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English as a foreign language

Having just returned from holidaying in China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and listening to what seem very convoluted languages, it has made think of the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Rain, reign, rein – Though, through, rough, bough – Court, caught, sought, sort – Boy, buoy – Soon, look – Time, thyme – Lead, led – Search, lurch – Stair, stare. The list goes on.

Then there are the works that don’t even look the same but are pronounced alike. Fought, caught, rort.

What about words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently depending on which way they are used. For example, “Have you read any good books lately”, ” Can you read“. If English is not your first language good luck to you.

By the way the holiday was great, or was that grate?

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English Language – Nonsense

As more people around the world become multilingual it has made me think twice. I did study German for five years at high school, and French for a very short while in primary school, but I would not call myself multilingual. I know there are now no end of short courses available, but I really cannot be bothered at my age.

It has made me think about the English language though, and what a nonsense language it really is, I would hate to be the one learning English as a second language, there are just too many anomalies, too many idiosyncracies. Please excuse any spelling mistakes moving forward as I have made them intentionally to emphasise my point.

Take for example the following words, say them out loud and you will see what I mean. Though, Bough, Enough, Cough. How many ways can you pronounce the letters “ough”, no wonder so many migrants have trouble with our language.

Then of course is the word bow, as in tie a bow, or bow, as in take a bow. The list goes on with sow, as in sow a seed, or sow, as in a female pig. Moving right along with the word mall which is pronounced both as mall and mal, but did Humpty Dumpty fal off a wal, no he did not. Even in the same country these words are sometimes pronounced differently in different states, how do we explain it, “It depends on what school you went to”.

Moving right along we come to the adjective vain, however when vain becomes a noun we drop the “i” and the word becomes vanity. Why drop the “i”, should the word not be vainity? Staying with the word vain which means excessively proud, we also have the word vane, pronounced the same, which means a blade or a plate moved by air, as in a windmill, not to mention vein as in a vessel that carries blood around the body. Then there is tire and tyre, wind, as in the wind is blowing, and wind, as in you wind your clock, and the list goes on, and on, and on. Brood, blood; time, thyme; can you think of any others?

Just when you thought it could not get any stranger our American friends came along and substituted a “z'” for an “s”, in words such as familiarise, summarise, emphasise, when will this madness end. I give up. 🙂

How many other oddities did you spot in this post? There is at least one.