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Aside
24 Feb

Many people I know will agree that English is a rather tough language to master. Just imagine ‘Fat chance’ is the same as ‘Slim chance’ but lackadaisical has absolutely nothing to do with a shortage of flowers. Its almost unfair!!! Some people think the English grammar is so complex and confusing for the one very simple reason that its rules and terminology are based on Latin. Latin??? Seriously??? Except for some exotic unpronounceable words like caveat the languages have precious little in common  .

But when all is said and done, English is a funny one. It has so many anomalies. It is rather easy to replace one for another and not know whether you are right or wrong if you are not a master of the language. Even in predominantly English speaking countries, we find people struggling to get the use of “your” and “you’re” in the right places. They forget that the effect of spelling affect with an ‘E’ can change the meaning of a sentence J And then as Chesterton said, “The word ‘good’ has many meanings.  For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

This wonderful language has so many different ways of saying different things, like “Oxymorons” where two opposites come together to make a legitimate third like “Happily Married” J And the “Contranyms” or “Janus” words that are spelled the same, but have two opposite meanings for example the word Weather. It can mean to ‘withstand’ or to ‘wear away’. For instance: That weathered, hackneyed phrase has weathered the approval process and will now appear in the press release. Then in this funny language, the prefixes in and un, along with others, are used to negate certain root words. The antonym of sane, for example, is insane, and the antonym of stoppable, for example, is unstoppable. But some words that appear to be negated with prefixes have no positive; like the opposite of inept is not ept — there is no such word; or incommunicado is not the opposite of communicado!!!! Funny isn’t it?!?!!? Oh I just love this language…

But look at what I found as I was writing this article about this fascinating language… Did you know that “ough” can be pronounced TEN DIFFERENT WAYS? There’s

  1. Cough – which rhymes with “off”
  2. Enough – which rhymes with “stuff”
  3. Dough – which rhymes with “no”
  4. Through – which rhymes with “do”
  5. Thought – which sounds like “awe”
  6. Plough – an alternative spelling of “wow”
  7. Hiccough – an alternative spelling of “hiccup”
  8. Hough – an alternative spelling of “hock”
  9. Lough – an alternative spelling of “loch” and
  10. Thorough an alternative spelling of “aw” and once again it has a different pronunciation in the UK than it does in American English 😉

And just as I leave you with this little tidbit try this sentence for size: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”

English Vinglish

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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Fascinating

 

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