Posted: Apr 09, 2012 4:05 am
by don't get me started
Interesting topic Zwaarddijk, I'm looking forward to your posts.

To try to answer the questions that you posed:
How many vowels does English have?

Well English orthography has five. In pronunciation, most standard dictionaries list about 15 vowels with a further 11 or so diphthongs. However, this list should be taken as a partial description of the range of vowels produced by speakers of English.
The way that I pronounce the word 'cake' (Cumbrian style... as flat as can be) is not found in many other varieties of English. Likewise the word 'vase' pronounced in typical 'cut glass' Upper Class English is not found in American English.
Vowels in English are really slippery...and are one of the main ways in which varieties of spoken English differ from each other. For example, the consonants of a word like 'house' remain pretty much fixed wherever you go in the UK, but the vowel varies extremely...Cockney, 'Haurse', Geordie, 'Hoose', RP 'Hice'.
(By contrast, vowel sounds in Japanese and, I believe, Spanish are pretty fixed. People in Hokkaido and Okinawa have pretty much the same way to pronounce the five vowel sounds of Japanese)

Is double negation illogical?

Not at all. This was discussed at length in another thread here a while back. Double negation is a feature of many languages, sometimes with the 'double negative equals a positive' outcome, sometimes with the 'reinforced negative' outcome. Since language is not a formal system of logic, but an organic, holistic and sometimes contradictory system, we can't really apply the term 'logic' to any of its components.

What is the oldest language in Europe?

Every living, spoken language in Europe is exactly the same age...about a day old. By this I mean that languages evolve all the time and the language that is spoken today is always going to be slightly different to the language that was spoken yesterday.
I once heard a quip that helps to explain what this means. "This is my grandfather's axe. My father replaced the handle and I replaced the head."
Basque is a non Indo-European language which appears to satisfy very narrow definitions of being old as long as you are defining old as a combination of geographical and historical particularism and ignoring language change.

Is San the purest, oldest language in the world?

See the previous answer.

Is French (Or English, or...) the more logical than other languages?
Language is not a formal system with unbreakable rules, rather a way of describing the world in a way that seems to make sense to its speakers. The speakers of any given language will be largely blind to the ways in which their language makes assumptions about the world that seem superfluous or just plain nuts to speakers of other languages.