Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA). Early Modern English Main article: Early Modern English Graphic representation of the Great Vowel Shift, showing how the pronunciation of the long vowels gradually shifted, with the high vowels i: and u: breaking into diphthongs and the lower vowels each. In terms of rhythm, English is generally described as a stress-timed language, meaning that the amount of time between stressed syllables tends to be equal. "Summary by language size". While the European Union (EU) allows member states to designate any of the national languages as an official language of the Union, in practice English is the main working language of EU organisations. Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of a "Pure" Standard English. Because lenis consonants are frequently voiceless at the end of a syllable, vowel length is an important cue as to whether the following consonant is lenis or fortis. Geographical distribution See also: List of territorial entities where English is an official language, Geographical distribution of English speakers, List of countries by English-speaking population, and English-speaking world Percentage of English native speakers. The distinction between nominative and accusative cases was lost except in personal pronouns, the instrumental case was dropped, and the use of the genitive case was limited to indicating possession. Discourse level syntax While English is a subject-prominent language, at the discourse level it tends to use a topic-comment structure, where the known information (topic) precedes the new information (comment). A minority of linguists, 265 contrarily, propose that aave mostly traces back to African languages spoken by the slaves who had to develop a pidgin or Creole English to communicate with slaves of other ethnic and linguistic origins. "he sent it to himself" or "she braced herself for impact. One of the most productive processes in English is conversion, using a word with a different grammatical role, for example using a noun as a verb or a verb as a noun.