English, Thou Art Cruel


You may have heard this before. But there is good reason to despise the English language. Especially for non-native speakers! Thing is, I love to write. I really do. So it pains me to admit that sometimes my writer’s block stems from loathing the English language and all of its dysfunctionally absurd “exceptions” to established rules of grammar. Follow me for a moment…

  • WOMB is pronounced “woom” and TOMB is pronounced “toom”, but BOMB is pronounced “bahm”.

Oh, uh… okay. :-/

Image result for wait what

  • A “pair of glasses”, a “pair of scissors” and a “pair of pants” actually refer to one item or article. But a “pair of shoes” refers to two items.  It could be argued that you’d look pretty silly with only one pant leg. But I think you’d also look pretty silly with only one shoe.

Here is a list of words that at first glance you would think rhyme. Think again. All of them are pronounced differently. ALL. OF. THEM.

Tough
Trough
Though
Through
Thought
Thorough

  • Colonel is pronounced “kernuhl”. So Colonoscopy should be pronounced “kernoscopy” right? WRONG.
  • It would also stand to reason that “take out” should not be “brought home”, but yet, it almost always is.
  • If one person doesn’t “show up” for a “showdown”, it ain’t gonna happen.
  • A “flight of stairs” involves no air travel whatsoever.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Contranyms. That’s a can of worms even the most confident native English speaker would find disconcerting. If you dare, here’s a list.

Yet, I persevere. Because my love for writing outweighs my disdain for the words from which I must choose. 🙂

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Categories: commentary, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “English, Thou Art Cruel

  1. thespia

    But there are reasons for all of these exceptions, stemming mostly from etymology, and that is what makes English awesome and beautiful and non-robotic!

    • I don’t disagree! I’ve an on-again, off-again love affair with the English language. It is both beautifully expressive and dreadfully frustrating. lol But, like you said, that is what sets it apart. 🙂

  2. Lucy

    This is why my mom has such a hard time with the language. My hats off to anyone who speaks English as a second language- it’s not as straightforward as some others and can be tricky!

  3. Oh my poor ESL students when I would tutor writing.. this reminds me of our struggles.. a big one was when to use “on” or “in”. For instance, you get on a bus but in a car….

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