Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Good Ole English Spelling

I guess when you consider how popular spelling bees are in this country, it isn't too surprising that English is an extremely difficult language to spell and has tons of contradictory spelling and pronunciation rules. If it was easy, there would be no need for spelling bees. While it makes sense that languages such as Chinese and Japanese, with their huge character sets, take longer to learn, I recently read that English takes the average native speaker twice as long to learn as other European languages with the same alphabet. Part of the reason is the mishmash of origins of English, from Latin to Germanic languages. Of course spelling everything phonetically would make words easer to spell, but harder to discern meaning since the various etymological clues we're used to looking for would be gone.

Now time for a quiz: What common 3 syllable food could, using spelling from other English words, be written as "ghoughpteighbteau." Bonus points for also showing which words each part could come from.


Harsha said...

Potato? I am not going to try to answer the bonus question this late at night. I am doinhg hill repeats tomorrow morning, so I best get some sleep.

Paul DeWitt said...

Yes, Harsha is correct! And a non-native English speaker at that.