Crazy English Spelling (spelling and pronunciation gap)
Could you ever imagine the most eccentric language in the world become one day global? English.has managed in spite of its chaotic and confusing characteristics. .Spelling English words correctly is a killer. Did you know that you can write 'fish' : ghoti.
English just doesn't make sense. The gap between pronunciation and spelling reaches astronomical heights. Usually we expect phonetic transcriptions of words to follow the 'one letter principle. Have you ever seen a language where the letters /o/, /e/ and /i/ are all pronounced [i]? Well, English is one. If you don’t believe have a look at the word “women”. It is pronounced [wimin]. Could expect something crazier? Of course not. English is a baby born to a Germanic mother and ac Romance adoptive father and understandably anything born out of such a wedlock can only comes out totally confused. Bernhard Shaw was a ware of this craziness. He joked about the logic of English spelling: you even write fish as ghoti:
The English sound [f] can be written: /f/ as in film, /ph/ as in photo and even /gh/ as in enough or laugh. He chose gh
1. the phoneme (sound) /f/ can also be spelled 'gh' (laugh). He chose /gh/
There is also a joke about the reason why the English write /gh/ for [f]. The people in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">England</st1:country-region></st1:place> who were in charge of printing were Dutch and they were paid by letters. The Dutch of course wanted to earn more money so the used /gh/ instead of /f/. Loughborough, managed to have two -gh sounds in one word.
2. the phoneme /i/ can also be spelled 'O' (women). He chose /o/
3. the phoneme /S/ can also be spelled 'ti' (rational). He chose /ti/
That means 'teacher' can also be rendered ‘edeture’ :
1. (/t/ as in asked
2. /i:/ as in me
3. /cher/ as in mixture
There is another joke that the Romans invaded <st1:country-region w:st="on">England</st1:country-region> and called it <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Britain</st1:country-region></st1:place>, ecause the natives were:"blue, nasty, br(u-i)tish and short." This was the start of the importance of /u/ (and its mispronunciation. There are 41 significant speech sounds or phonemes. In the traditional English writing system they are spelled over 500 ways'. See: www.spellingsociety.org/news/ss/ss8pt3.php
The English are in no way unaware of the craziness of their language:
Evidence I as a poem:
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough, and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead --
For goodness sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear;
And then there's dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose,
And corek and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart --
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd mastered it when I was five!
Evidence II in prose
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in <st1:country-region w:st="on">England</st1:country-region> or French fries in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">France</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Guinea</st1:place></st1:country-region> nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Park on a driveway, yet drive on a parkway? Chop a tree down, then cut up the wood? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Have you ever met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was couth, combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible. However, when the lights are out, they are invisible. Why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?
But of course English is no crazier than any other language in terms of pronunciation. English sounds are as regular and quantifiable as those of any other language. The oddity in English derives from the fact that a sound (phoneme) can be spelled in a lot of ways. Sometimes words are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently due to their grammartical function (close the door, close to me), or to whether the first letter is capitalized or not (polish, Polish) -heteronyms. Then there are homonyms, homophones and homographs.
Since Noah Webster American English has been simplidfying the English spelling as for example AmE color for BE colour or AmE center for BE centre. Although this way English spelling becomes more logical we lose information about the history. Words like colour reveal their Romance origin if the /u/ is retained