Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Talking "English is a crazy language"

    Hi!

    Here comes something fun!

    Did you know that you can also write the word 'fish' this way:
    GHOTI

    This is because phonetical transcriptions of words don't always follow the 'one letter-one sound' principle. Every phoneme in the pronounciation of the word fish can also be spelled in other ways, for ex.:

    1. the phoneme (sound) /f/ can also be spelled 'gh' (laugh).

    2. the phoneme /i/ can also be spelled 'O' (women).

    3. the phoneme /S/ can also be spelled 'ti' (rational).


    That means that 'teacher' can also be written as 'edeture' (quite close to editor, isn't it?).

    (/t/ as in asked, /i:/ as in me, /cher/ as in mixture (I can't write the phonetical transcription here).

    To make things worse, the same goes in the opposite direction: the same combinations of letters can be pronounced differently, like in 'tough', 'bough' (see the poem below).

    For those who didn't know, this is called PHONICS (connections between letters and the sounds they represent).

    In other words, English just doesn't make sense. Spelling English words correctly is a killer, since one sound can have LOTS of different spellings!

    Here are some facts:

    'There are 41 significant speech sounds or phonemes. In the traditional English writing system they are spelled over 500 ways'.
    (http://www.spellingsociety.org/news/ss/ss8pt3.php)

    Now, try to read this poem that I found on the net:


    Hints on pronunciation for Foreigners!

    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!
    Last edited by bianca; 14-May-2007 at 11:30.

  2. #2
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Germany
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    1,198
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Bianca Ghoti was a joke make by Bernhard Shaw about the English logic of spelling to show the wide gap between spelling and pronunciation. Apart from what you have written I have a text at home which shows this craziness. If I find it I'll post it. The craziest thing about English is: [o] in women in pronounced [i]. Have you ever seen a language in the world in which [o] is pronounced [i]. There is also a joke about the reason why the English write gh for f. The people in England 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. Don't believe it.
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 04-May-2007 at 12:15.

  3. #3
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Yes, I knew about Shaw. But he was so right! I'd be much obliged if you posted me more about the English craziness! And as for the pronounciation of 'o', I can only say that it is only pronounced /u/ eller /o/ in Swedish, depending on its 'environments'.

    Wow, that's really funny!

    bianca
    Last edited by bianca; 04-May-2007 at 12:32.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,985
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    I went to school in Loughborough, which manages to have two -gh sounds in one word.
    Last edited by Tdol; 05-May-2007 at 11:05. Reason: Typo

  5. #5
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Yes, nice example. Worse is it though for the poor fellows studying in some school in the Welsh village called Llyddumlmunnyddthllywddu...

    There is a joke saying that the Welsh gave long names to their villages to prevent raids. (they figured that, if no one could pronounce the name of their towns, then no one would visit them.)

    It worked. How many travel agents have YOU heard suggest a visit to Llyddumlmunnyddthllywddu?
    Last edited by bianca; 04-May-2007 at 13:43.

  6. #6
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    Bianca Ghoti was a joke make by Bernhard Shaw about the English logic of spelling to show the wide gap between spelling and pronunciation. Apart from what you have written I have a text at home which shows this craziness. If I find it I'll post it. The craziest thing about English is: [o] in women in pronounced [i]. Have you ever seen a language in the world in which [o] is pronounced [i]. There is also a joke about the reason why the English write gh for f. The people in England 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. Don't believe it.
    Jamshid

    There is another joke that the Romans invaded England and called it Britain, because the natives were:
    "blue, nasty, br(u-i)tish and short." This was the start of the importance of u (and its mispronounciation) to the language.
    Last edited by bianca; 04-May-2007 at 21:36.

  7. #7
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Germany
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    1,198
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    There is another joke that the Romans invaded England and called it Britain, because the natives were:
    "blue, nasty, br(u-i)tish and short." This was the start of the importance of u (and its mispronounciation) to the language.
    I found the text I mentioned in the Great Website URL you gave:
    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 England or French fries in France. 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 Guinea 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?


  8. #8
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Yes, thank you Dr. Jamshid, I knew about it, I had received it from someone in Viginia last year and used it in class. You know, the more I know about the odditties in English, the "hungrier" I get. Isn't language fascinating?

  9. #9
    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    92
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    You are all of course falling into the typical trap of letting the tail wag the dog.

    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.

    It is the way the spelling system represents the language which is eccentric, not the phonetic system of the language itself.

  10. #10
    bianca is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: "English is a crazy language"

    Hi

    You must have missed smth., we're not discussing here the E. phonetics apart from spelling. On the contrary, the oddity in English derives from the fact that a sound (phoneme)can be spelled in a lot of ways. Not to mention the many vernaculars inside a language (take for ex. the Southern Drawl that lengthens/diphtongizes the vowels).

    Sometimes words are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently due to their gram. 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 so on and so forth.

    But I like your expression "letting the tail wag the dog".
    Have you seen this site:
    Nym Words

    bianca
    Last edited by bianca; 08-May-2007 at 22:45.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Can we believe Crazy English
    By violets in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-May-2006, 11:01
  2. Modal verbs are driving me crazy! Help!!!
    By ana2005 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 20-Nov-2005, 22:17
  3. "english is how much essential for our daily life"
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 19-Oct-2004, 16:18
  4. What is "English Home"?
    By Piak in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 20-Apr-2004, 22:28

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •