Tag Archives: phonetics

Would You Mind Repeating That? And this Time, in English?

Whether I’m penning a novel, a short story or a grocery store list, I have to wonder about the English language. Nay, what America has done to the English language? I have to wonder when a traveler from another country lands up on our hallowed shores, what is their first inkling? Finally, America “or” I’ve somehow landed on another planet.

United States of America

United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clichés alone are enough to send the average visitor screaming back to their homeland. Put yourself in their place. You’ve taken the time to learn proper English. Your late flight lands in Los Angeles. You run for the gate to board the plane that will take you to your final destination, Chicago, only to find that the doors are closed and the plane is backing from the jet way.

The concierge says, “You must arrive at the gate on time; remember the early bird gets the worm.”

You ask, “When does the next plane leave?”

The concierge replies “Just sit tight and don’t kick up a fuss.”

You think, bird, worm, sit tight and don’t kick anything. What have I gotten myself into?

 Finally, you arrive at Chicago, recover your luggage and head for the taxi stand. You notice storm clouds overhead. You hear someone say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” You run back inside, not wanting to be bombarded by falling felines and canine.

Anyway you get the picture…

Now, for my personal favorite: “phonics.”

The very name,” phonics,” is a misnomer in and of itself. If I were to spell the word “phonics” using phonics, it would look something like this, “fonix.”

And here’s a question that I would really love an answer to. Why are words that start with an “X,” pronounced like they begin with a “Z” such as “xylophone”? Or words that end with an “X,” pronounced like they finish with an “O,” such as, “Bordeaux”? Some would say that’s the French pronunciation. Well, the last time I looked I didn’t live in France.

Why are so many of our words rooted in Latin, when Latin is a dead and unspoken language? I guess you had to be there.

I bet it was something akin to our American revolution (which at the time was not a popular idea.) Many a plan was discussed under the cover of night in the city Taverns that laid the foundation for our independence. Can you imagine the pints that were pulled during these discussions? I imagine that not only would it have been enough to float the oldest commissioned battleship in our Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution, but several modern aircraft carriers as well.

I guess what I’m trying to get at with this analogy is that over the span of many years there had to be an inordinate amount of alcohol consumed to have created the language of these great United States of America.

It’s been said that American English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. For whatever reason, I find that a source of pride. What could be more appropriate than a complex language for such a wonderfully complex nation?

Post Script:  Kinda makes me leery when it comes to writing another novel with all the language faux pas.  Well, I guess if John Hancock can get his stuff published, then I’ll hang in there, too.

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A TAIL of TOO Cities

Rooted in the English language, American English, is a double conundrum, wrapped in an enigma, smacked around by a paradox, and allowed to mildew in an abandoned well for an undetermined amount of time. We’ve been hooked on phonics, regaled with ebonics (which by the way is spelled phonetically not taking into account that phonetically is not spelled fonetically.)

According to infomercials if you are a studious infant you can learn to read shortly after exiting the womb. I have yet to determine exactly what advantage this will afford but maybe it’s got something to do with being able to say dog three years before you actually get one. You can read the book that you just read or wind your watch in the wind. You can produce produce in your garden or record a record in a studio.

You can pull someone’s leg or jump in a lake without getting wet. You can float like a lead balloon or shoot the breeze.

With two (or three) letters you can entertain yourself for hours during the next rainy day.


Directional:  I am going to the store.

Inclusive:  I am going to the store, too.

Plural:  I found two others to go to the store, too.

Finish with class:   The first two I found, found two more to go to the store also.

When I continue writing, I’ll no doubt have a new found respect for all the little idiosyncrasies in the language of the greatest country in the world but I can’t help but wonder what Noah Webster would have thought had he known that the word “ain’t” would one day be added to his hallowed publication.

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