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Just Love Words

Just ♥ Words—cough

Thursday, 07 August 2008 12:27

coughHow anyone ever learns to speak and spell English is a mystery.  Below are common words that surely confound anyone—child or adult—trying to learn this quirky language.

Don’t You Just ♥ Words? 

If cow rhymes with bough
shouldn’t cow rhyme with cough?

If rafter rhymes with laughter
shouldn’t rafter rhyme with daughter?

If hoe rhymes with toe
shouldn’t hoe rhyme with shoe?

If threw sounds like through
shouldn’t threw rhyme with rough?

If lime rhymes with climb
shouldn’t limb sound like lime?


These erratic spellings have to do with the development of the English language—which wasn’t really “English” and wasn’t really a language.  From the end of the Roman occupation, the ancient Brits spoke a mishmash of Germanic and Norse tongues, with a soupcon of French and Latin throw in by the upper classes.

The language underwent constant change until the 15th century, leading to such confusion that people from one part of England could barely understand those from another. 

It was William Claxton, a mid-15th century printer, who first began to consolidate and standardize what was by then "modern" English. But he started a bit too early—printing technology cemented the language before all the kinks could be worked out.  Thus, the cow-bough-cough imbroglio.

 

Just ♥ Words—air

Friday, 25 July 2008 12:51

airEnglish—what a great language to have fun with!  Below is a set of homophones, words that sound alike but have different meanings and often different spellings.  (And, yes, I’ve taken a few liberties.)

Don't You Just ♥ Words?

air  |  ayre  |  ere  |  e’re  |  err  |  heir 

If e’re were a time for the heir to take air,
ere he errs in his ayre, it be now.

Translation
Now is the time to take a breath before
he makes a mistake in the song.


Feel free to play along.  These are mine, so see if you can find others. . . or come up with homophones of your own. It’s good brain exercise.

 

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