More Peculiar English Etc

Perhaps the most puzzling to foreigners is ‘ou’. While spelled similarly, pronunciation varies wildly.

‘Though’ is pronounced ‘long O’, as ‘throw’.

‘Through’ however is pronounced ‘u’ as in ‘you’.

‘Could’ is like ‘good’.

‘Thought’ is like ‘awful’.

‘Thorough’ is like ‘throw’ again.

‘Ouch’ and ‘couch’ are pronounced like ‘cow’.

‘Tough’ and ‘enough’ and ‘couple’ are pronounced like ‘stuff’.

Biblical ‘thou’ is pronounced again like ‘cow’.

‘Imminent’ is pronounced almost the same as ’eminent’ but have opposite meanings.

‘Sanction’ includes opposite meanings, either a boycott or an endorsement.

This one confuses every foreigner striving to learn English: ‘straight’, ‘strait’, ‘weight’, and ‘wait’ are all pronounced with a long A, as in ‘state’.

‘Truth’, ‘roof’, and ‘booth’ are usually pronounced the same, as in ‘moo’. But ‘roof’ can also be pronounced ‘uff’, as in ‘hoof’. But ‘hoot’ and ‘poof’ are back to ‘truth’!

‘Break’ is pronounced like ‘brake’, but ‘creak’ is pronounced like ‘eek’.

‘Pipe up’ means speak louder. But ‘pipe down’ means shut up.

Who can make sense of all this? There is no sense to it. English needs to be radically reformed in its spelling. Very few languages have such inconsistencies.

Words ending in -tion, -cian, and -cion all are pronounced ‘shun’.

‘Owe’ as in owing money is ‘throw’ again. But ‘how’ is like ‘cow’. No sense at all.

The ‘ach’ in ‘stomach’ is pronounced ‘uk’. But ‘ache’ is ‘long A’ pronounced like ‘eight’ (!) or ‘ate’. While ‘cache’ is pronounced ‘cash’.

‘Epoch’ in the US is pronounced almost like ‘epic’. But in the UK it is pronounced ‘ee-pock’.

‘Wreck’, pronounced ‘rek’, means destruction, especially of cars. ‘Wreak’ is to inflict a wreck, to destroy something or create disorganization as in ‘to wreak havoc’. ‘Wreak’ is pronounced ‘reek’ as in ‘Greek’.

‘Infer’ and ‘imply’ are often confused, even by native speakers of English. ‘Infer’ means to extract or induct information, while ‘imply’ means to suggest something not obvious.

‘Eunuch’ is a castrated male, sans cojones. Pronounced ‘you nik’. Contrary to ‘Reuters’ which is pronounced like ‘oysters’.

Then there are the homonyms:

‘Peace’ is pronounced the same as ‘piece’. ‘Survive’ the same as ‘serve’. ‘Rush’ the same as ‘Russia’. ‘Scene’ the same as ‘seen’. And ‘worse’ the same as ‘curse’ and ‘hearse.’ How can anyone explain this to foreigners wishing to learn English?

This is why foreigners learning English often can speak it but can’t write it well, or write it with many spelling errors. Not many languages besides English have spelling championships because most are spelled exactly as they sound. Only the chaos of English requires this kind of memorization.

But then there is Arabic! In Arabic Fusha, the classical tongue, almost all nouns are ‘broken nouns’. Like ‘man’ and ‘men’ in English. Every Arabic noun must be memorized therefore in pairs: singular and plural together. Plus most Arabic nouns have multiple plurals that are broken in different ways. That is a prodigious task.

Not to mention Russian. In Russian, the nouns are rational, but every verb comes in pairs and must be memorized together. That’s another kind of chaos requiring more prodigious memorization. But I’ll give Arabic the top score for difficulty due to its hard grammar on top of its required memorization. Russian is not so bad with its cases which are similar to Latin and Greek, tho some Russian words are utterly bizarre in their case construction and require more sweat memorization. Arabic is not so detailed in its cases, but its sentence structure is utterly unlike any Western language typically beginning with the verb, followed by modifying clauses, then the object with more modifying words, and finally the subject of the sentence. But word order, as in Russian, is not important in Arabic. Why do I bother reading these three crazy languages and just learn Esperanto?