Language is merely a system of conventions developed by various groups to communicate among themselves. English is full of exceptions and examples of a letter representing different sounds when combined with other letters. A digraph such as ch, ph, sh, th, wh, and qu) are just a few of these. The vowels of English are the worst for people who find spelling difficult.
English is a Germanic language; German and English bear many similarities. However, speakers of the English language have rich histories of assimilation, conflict, and interaction with other peoples and other languages. As a result, the English language corpus includes a host of borrowed words. These borrowed words look foreign, and, in many ways, they are.
But with the passing of time, many of them become English words and may even replace older words of English origin that mean the same thing. The sounds found in these words from other languages may even become part of the English sound catalog. Historically, the English language has been greatly affected by French, Scandinavian, and, more recently, Japanese.
In addition to the introduction of new words and sounds, the English language has also borrowed or been influenced by the grammatical structures of other languages. In addition, there are huge differences between every-day English that is communicative and English that is “strictly-speaking” grammatically correct. The confluence of so many traditions and systems makes English somewhat difficult to learn… and to teach.
Writing gives language a fixed target. This kind of uniformity is useful for effective communication, teaching, and learning; however, written languages do not allow for much change and, often, variations from the norm are not tolerated. One problem with the written language — particularly in the cases of spelling and grammar rules — is that written language cannot keep up with spoken language, which changes all the time. Our spoken language is much more fluid than our written language and more easily carries new ideas and new words. Our cultural climate affects our language as much as language affects our cultural climate.