Monday, May 16, 2011

The Absurdity of the English Language

Phoney Phonetics

One reason why I cannot spell,
Although I learned the rules quite well
Is that some words like coup and through
Sound just like threw and flue and Who;
When oo is never spelled the same,
The duice becomes a guessing game;
And then I ponder over though,
Is it spelled so, or throw, or beau,
And bough is never bow, it's bow,
I mean the bow that sounds like plow,
And not the bow that sounds like row -
The row that is pronounced like roe.
I wonder, too, why rough and tough,
That sound the same as gruff and muff,
Are spelled like bough and though, for they
Are both pronounced a different way.
And why can't I spell trough and cough
The same as I do scoff and golf?
Why isn't drought spelled just like route,
or doubt or pout or sauerkraut?
When words all sound so much the same
To change the spelling seems a shame.
There is no sense - see sound like cents -
in making such a difference
Between the sight and sound of words;
Each spelling rule that undergirds
The way a word should look will fail
And often prove to no avail
Because exceptions will negate
The truth of what the rule may state;
So though I try, I still despair
And moan and mutter "It's not fair
That I'm held up to ridicule
And made to look like such a fool
When it's the spelling that's at fault.
Let's call this nonsense to a halt."

Attributed to Vivian Buchan, NEA Journal 1966/67, USA,
published in Spelling Progress Bulletin Spring 1966 pdf, p6, Reprinted from Educational Horizons.


Karen Walker said...

This made me smile. Thank you for that!

Laura Josephsen said...

HEE! That's fantastic and so true. :D

Theresa Milstein said...

I love this! I'm going to share this post with my daughter's 3rd-grade teacher. I'm sure she feels the pain!

Madeleine said...

Bravo! Dr.Suess would be proud. Loved this poem. :O)

Talli Roland said...

So, so true!

David Powers King said...

That was awesome! Thanks for sharing, Rachel. :)

J.L. Campbell said...

Guess we have these problems because ours is a mish mash of languages. This reminds me of the story of the von Trapp family - on which the Sound of Music is based. The writer said that when they first came from Austria the mother couldn't wrap her head around the language. Didn't understand why we say freeze/frozen, but not squeeze/squozen.

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

I think the English language is the most ambiguous of all languages.

Colene Murphy said...

Wonderfully brilliant! Thanks for the smiles!

Cally Jackson said...

That's fabulous! Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to our blogfest next week. I've been promoting it heaps on Twitter, hopefully we get heaps of entries! :-)

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious, and so true. I can well imagine that English is NOT an easy language to learn... ;-)

D. U. Okonkwo said...

LOL - Great stuff!

Shari said...

What is it with the English language! Ugh!

Kari Marie said...

What a wonderful poem! It made me giggle and smile. Thanks!

Sarah Ketley said...

Love it!

Thanks for sharing!


Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for the gentle laugh. It's all so true. After studying phonetic languages, my English spelling is a disaster!

Anonymous said...

Awesome poem! It reminds me of the two places I used to live between called Cosham and Bosham they had completely different pronunciations, ridiculous ;)