This Crazy English Language

Hi SE Readers. Thought we would have a little fun today. I’ve often heard English is the hardest language to learn. That seems strange to me because I grew up speaking it, so it comes natural to me. My Texas twang notwithstanding.

But for someone learning English as a second language, I can see how it might be a bit difficult. Pronunciations and spellings I take for granted may not make sense to others. Silent letters, words that look like they would rhyme but don’t, plural forms.

For instance, if rough and tough rhyme, then why isn’t cough and bough pronounced cuff and buff?

Speaking of bough (a part of a tree), there is also bow (to kneel or courtesy). Bow can also be a noun as in a bow and arrow.

Some words sound alike but are spelled differently and have completely different meanings.

Jeff threw the baseball at nearly 100 miles per hour. Everyone wanted him on the home team, but he was just passing through town. At least two dozen people asked if he would stay but it was too much to hope for.

If family begins with the letter f, why is phantom spelled with ph? Considering the fact the past tense of freeze is frozen, then why is the past tense of squeeze, squeezed?

Then there are the hard vs. soft sounds. Christy could easily be spelled Kristy, but ever have you ever heard anyone spell Charlotte with a K?

Let’s not forget those words with silent letters. It’s pterodactyl, salmon, and subtle, not terodactyl, samon, and sutle.

Probably each area of the US has its own quirky spellings and pronunciations of words. San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, is in Bexar County. You would think Bex would rhyme with the Tex in Texas, right?

Wrong. Bexar is pronounced bair. Isn’t that a bear?

There’s also a town named Leakey. Remind you of a dripping faucet? Think again. It’s laykee.

Boerne, located in central Texas, might make you think of a Robert Ludlum character. Try this. It’s pronounced burnee.

The town of Gruene is home to Texas’ oldest dance hall. Seeing red yet? Probably not but you might be seeing green, um, I mean Gruene.

For a funny clip about learning to read English, take a look at this scene from I Love Lucy. As for me, I think I’ll stroll into my favorite Mexican restaurant and have some wok, that is, guacamole.

33 thoughts on “This Crazy English Language

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and Two Weeks of Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to learn English as a second language. It is the most variable and confusing language for sure. Helping my 7 year-old granddaughter with her spelling words reminds me. 🙂 Thanks for the humor you put into this post, Joan. Btw, I LOVE Gruene and Gruene Hall! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve not been there but it’s (as you know) legendary. There’s a Facebook page called Traces of Texas that I follow. Readers send in historic photos of Texas citizens and places. Not long ago there was one of Gruene Hall.

      Kudos to you for helping your granddaughter. I used to be pretty good at spelling but have come to rely too much on spell check! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, one of the benefits of being the Great Melting Pot. We have words from so many languages, our “rules” have almost as many exceptions as norms.

    I’d forgotten about that I Love Lucy sketch. Funny stuff. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some comedian did a bit that went on about how we park on a driveway, but drive on a parkway, etc. Our language really is kind of a mess. Why is it called a refrigerator? Can we only put things in it that were fridged once before?

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  5. I love stuff like this! I remember hearing a stand up comic do a routine on the English language once that had me in stitches. I always heard that English is so hard to learn–and then I tried to teach myself Spanish and began to rethink that. Everyone says Spanish is an easy language to learn. Um–NOT–IMHO. I wonder if there’s a humorous look at all the quirks in that language too, LOL!

    Thanks for the chuckles today, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know a few Spanish words but I agree with you. It would be hard to learn. Funny story. A high-school classmate (and friend) is Hispanic. His family was one of the few Hispanic families in our town at that time. Later, he served on the school board, and one of the school principals would call him if he wanted something translated. Joe was born and raised in Texas and doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. He would always call his mother to translate. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I was talking to someone about this the other day. It started when I saw the weather for our area was listed as, “Fair,” but with a temperature that was already too hot for me despite the early hour. So I posted on Facebook how the weather was supposed to be fair, but I didn’t think temperatures like that were fair at all.

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    • As much as I want to agree with you (because I am quite sure you are being facetious), I teach intensive reading and am constantly having to teach phonics and language rules. The problem is that there are SO many rules, that we just throw our hands up and say we’ll figure it out when we need it. LOL! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another problem is that there seems to be a lot of exceptions to rules. While the basics remain relatively stable, you have those visually similar words that sound different. Then you have visually different words that sound the same. I remember being taught ‘I before E except after C’, which has betrayed me so many times. So, it does come off that the rules are more guidelines when it comes to English.

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      • So true! There are SO many exceptions. I tell my students that the English language follows rules 85% of the time. The other 15% is the language’s way of being rebellious. 😉 So, I teach the rules as a way to first try to pronounce (and spell) words, and when it doesn’t work, then I have them use context clues to try to figure out the pronunciations. It can be both fun and frustrating at times. Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t doubt it. I’m actually reminded of a poem I posted on my blog years ago. I used the wrong version and misspellings of words throughout it. People still understood what I was saying. Kind of makes the rebellious side seem even stronger.

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