By now, those of us in the linguistics field are used to hearing the “(x language) has no word for (y)” saying, and as much as we dislike it, I doubt it will go away anytime soon. The unfortunate fact is that most of the beliefs like this come from monolingual English speakers who really don’t know any better because they haven’t spent much time in other languages. The other unfortunate fact is that, more often than not, the language that is being talked about only has “no word for (y)” when it is strictly compared to English. The assumption behind this is pretty simple: whether conscious of it or not, most people are holding English up as the standard to which they are comparing all other languages. To help people realize that English is actually not the paragon of perfection (I admit to being kind of a fan of it as languages go, but I recognize that I am biased by the fact that it’s my first language), I’ve made a list of things that English doesn’t have but could really use. This is what English needs:
Removing plural -s marking: Think about this one for a second. If I say that I have two dogs, the hearer knows that what I mean is that I have a plurality of dogs. If I say that I have two dog, the hearer still knows that I have more than one dog because of the determiner two. In fact, even in the first sentence, the hearer knew I had two dogs before I even got to the -s ending in the word. This makes that marker entirely redundant and, if you ask me, unnecessary.
Future tense morphology: English has no true morphology to mark future tense. In Spanish, for example, if I want to say I will eat, I would say yo comeré, but in English, I have to spend all this time adding extra words like will to things to get the same meaning. I say we should start adding a morphological marker to words to mark future tense. Further, I think the marker should be a -wee affix (pronounced [wi]). Just think about how much more hopeful we will all be as a culture if we all start adding -wee to the ends of verbs when we are talking about the future: “I talkwee to you tomorrow!” “You applywee for the job tomorrow, right?” That would be pretty awesome.
Diminutive and augmentative morphology: Speaking of morphology and things that are “pretty awesome,” English also doesn’t have anything close to a good system for marking augmentative and diminutive forms of adjectives and nouns. We do, of course, have -er and -est endings as in bigger and biggest for some adjectives, but they don’t apply evenly across all words, and they never get used for nouns. Going with Spanish as an example again, Spanish speakers have the -ito and -ísimo diminutive and augmentative affixes. To get anywhere close to a diminutive and an augmentative form, English once again requires another time-
Subject, object, verb word order: The word order in English is SVO currently, and that is a system that has worked fairly well. However, it might take English speakers a long time (comparatively) to get to the object of the sentence especially if there are indirect objects in the way. For example: “John gave the book to Mary.” Upon hearing a sentence like that, the hearer has to wait all the way until the end to find out the direct or indirect object in the sentence. This isn’t normally a problem, but what if the hearer didn’t like Mary? Again, the hearer would have to make it through to the end of the sentence to decide to start ignoring the speaker. This works the same way with other things that nobody likes, such as football. If someone starts a conversation with “Man, I really, really like to watch football,” the hearer has to wait all that time before deciding to tune out the pointless babble. With an SOV word order, English speakers would be forced into saying “John, Mary, gave the book to” or “Man, football, I really, really, like to watch.” With this order, the hearer of a sentence can choose, two words in, if they want to listen to the rest of the sentence.
Postmodifying adjectives only: Speaking of word order and being more efficient with the sparse few hours we are granted in this mortal coil, think about how long it takes us to sort through adjectives sometimes. Think of a phrase like “Colorless, green ideas” (one that I’m fairly certain has never been said before). With each stack of an adjective, the time it takes to find out what is being talked about gets longer and longer. If adjectives only postmodified nouns in English, the phrase would be “ideas green, colorless.” The hearer would instantly know what was being talked about in the sentence.
Spelling reform: Last, but certainly not least, English is in desperate need of a change in the area of orthography. As some have come to realize after failing spelling bees, seeing red, squiggly lines underneath words on computers, and seeing teachers give bad marks for a misplaced letter, spelling in English is an abomination and an affront to the mind that nobody (with the exception of one unfortunately obscure scholar named Noah Webster) has tried to fix. That being said, if we fixed this problem and brought about a golden age of things being spelled the way they actually sound in English, then we would no longer have to worry about things we have to handwrite because we don’t have spellcheck to keep us sane and legible. Additionally, the power division that exists between people who can figure out how to spell words and those who can’t would quickly crumble, bringing down a centuries-
This list, though useful and made up of issues dear to my heart, is by no means comprehensive. I am certain scholars other than me have things that they could easily add to this list to create a fuller and more expansive picture of the kinds of things that the English language needs to adopt. My intent with this article is not to judge the English language nor to say that it is deficient in any way. Instead, all I wish to do is show areas where the English language is not the best language the world has ever seen. Where this list is insufficient in information or deficient in data, I leave it open to other scholars for further research.
Finally, I, you can’t leave without a paragraphoom detailing the change I, in the language, wantwee to see. These, the importantest change to the language are, and I, enacted in my lifetime, short hope they bewee. These, change beneficial to everyone can be for.