Sunday, December 05, 2010

ENGLISH … a mixed-up mess


Many times I’ve thought how difficult it would have been for me to learn English if it had not been my mother tongue. I am an avid reader and every page seems to be filled with words that would confound me if I were not already aware of their double, and sometimes triple, meanings.

Then, of course, there are the ones that are spelled the same and pronounced in a totally different way…or, conversely they are spelled differently but pronounced the same ! What a mess.

Recently I received an email with a list of sentences that aptly described this. Here are a few and some of my own:

* I will PRESENT the PRESENT in the PRESENT, rather than
wait ‘til tomorrow.

* The dump was so full we had to REFUSE more REFUSE.

* The DOVE DOVE into the bushes.

* Sadly his insurance was INVALID even though he was an
INVALID.

* See how the buck DOES prance when the DOES arrive.

* If I could PRODUCE more PRODUCE we’d eat better.

* My HEIR is out getting some AIR, he will be here ERE long.

* The COLONEL picked the KERNEL from his teeth.

I could go on forever but you get the idea. I’ll bet you have some favorites of your own. Maybe you could share some with us.

8 Comments:

Blogger kenju said...

I got an email a while back with many of them, but when I want to remember something, I can't. I think English is very hard for foreigners to learn.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I notice this type of thing from time to time, but then they're gone from my brain until next time. So no, I can't contribute.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

How true, Ginnie, the English language can be so confounding at times.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Those are some good ones. I am too tired to think right now, but I am sure that there are many more.

8:37 PM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--you might know that I LOVE this. No wonder some of my comp students have such trouble with homophones--words that sound alike, are spelled differently and of course mean different things.

I would usually have a student write (or right or rite) about something that altars (yes, I know it's not right...or write or rite) a plan. I patiently correct it to "alter." And I had one student write about getting married at the alter. Hmmm--maybe he was right.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Spellings can be confusing too. I find my spelling has gotten worse on the Internet as the American and British spellings are mixed up all the time depending on what I am reading. The latest one that has confused me is whether it is "traveling" or "travelling" I find myself using either one and think I have made a spelling mistake. I took some time to research it. It turns out the former is American and the latter is British. What is even more confusing is that I think the American one is a correct application of the rule I learned in school and remember still.

"When adding the ending "ing" or "ed" to the end of a word which ends in a consonant prceeded by a vowel which is a long sound, you double the final consonant before adding the ending." This keeps the
vowel sound long. The 'e' in question in the word "travel" is a short sound. This the American spelling is correct. If you spell it like the British (Canadian) with the doulbe "ll" a new speaker might think the rule applies and decide to pronounce the "e" with the long sound phonetically.

Confused? Me too. I have decided just to remember the simpler spelling is American and the British is more involved which seems to be the case in all these spelling confusions.

PS: I hate having American spell check on my computer. I finally got a Canadian version as I prefer the British spellings for nationalistic reasons.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Jacobs said...

I added a couple of photos and shared these words on my blog this morning, linking back here to you. Thanks.

http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2012/05/oh-this-english-language.html

2:40 AM  
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