Comprehension rant

I have been whinging of late in reference to people who seem incapable of constructing a simple sentence, and spelling simple words correctly.  I have found several poems online that depict our awkward language quite nicely but I still cannot understand how know becomes no, there becomes their (or they’re – which will never cease to amaze me because it implies the author thought about it before employing the use of an apostrophe), or even the confusion between to and too.

Here is a poem I found amusing…

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!

There are some more brilliant little poems found far and wide on TESS.  Check it out!

Now, I may have had an education better than most, or I may understand the English language well enough to consider myself smarter than the average (yes, arrogant I know), but it does frustrate me that people are incapable of understanding how some simple errors can change the entire construct (and meaning) of a sentence.

We have the joy of reading these errors multiple times a day on social media, whether Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, or just in emails to each other.  I can understand to a certain point where ‘text speak’ has ruined the youth of today, and it has its place while texting, but just how much is evidenced in a book like 50 Shades of Grey actually making it to a publisher, and through an editor, and it is STILL so poorly written!

I remember sitting in a lecture when I was a first year university student (creative arts, no less, not a literary degree), and the lecturer had to make a point of reminding students that text speak is not acceptable in an essay, or any assignment, and Wikipedia is still not a scholarly source.  The REAL kicker was someone piping up with ‘but why?’.  I applaud the student beside her that said, ‘Are you serious?’.

If you want some excellent reading have a look at bottledworder.  I’ve suggested this particular blogger before and I love reading someone else as frustrated and fascinated by the twists, turns and wonders of the English language!

And now that my rant is over, I shall leave you with a poem I was shown when I was in Grade 8.  My wonderful teacher, Mr Harris, was an excellent English teacher and I learnt a great deal from him!  His patience teaching the complexities of its/it’s etc was legendary!

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,
Grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and
get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
In which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?





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