Why is English spelling and pronunciation different?

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Posts298Likes159Joined6/10/2018LocationLagos / NG
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Honestly, i wonder why it's so complicated and confusing at times.

Light can help you see in the dark, be the opposite of heavy, or a way to make your fireworks do something interesting.

Just imagine how confusing it must be for someone who wanted to learn it from the scratch.


Kevwe A.

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Oghenekevwe wrote:
Honestly, i wonder why it's so complicated and confusing at times.
Light can help you see in the dark, be the opposite of heavy, or a way to make your fireworks do something interesting.
Just imagine how confusing it must be for someone who wanted to learn it from the scratch.

Because as far as I know they don't have an institution that regularly changes official spelling to match changes in pronunciation or natural writing. For example, in my country we have this institution and every few years/decades they publish new spelling rules according to changes which have happened organically. So for most vowel in words the pronunciation is the same, unlike in English.

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#2
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Posts436Likes220Joined4/9/2018LocationCaracas / VE
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This video is brilliant, thank you for sharing! Poor English poets trying to make rhymes :(. 


Here's my grain of sand to this topic: https://www.woodwardenglish.com/redundant-letters/

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Posts298Likes159Joined6/10/2018LocationLagos / NG
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Jess.PWinkler wrote:

This video is brilliant, thank you for sharing! Poor English poets trying to make rhymes :(.

Here's my grain of sand to this topic: https://www.woodwardenglish.com/redundant-letters/

Thank you Jess! Glad you enjoyed it.

Kevwe A.

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Oghenekevwe wrote:
Honestly, i wonder why it's so complicated and confusing at times.
Light can help you see in the dark, be the opposite of heavy, or a way to make your fireworks do something interesting.
Just imagine how confusing it must be for someone who wanted to learn it from the scratch.


There are several aspects that affected today's English spelling.

Mentioning those that come to my mind, maybe there are some more.


- Being a member of the Germanic language family.


- If what I once read is correct, English has been shaped by Celtic, too, to some degree. 


- Also, the (ancient) rune alphabet has been mentioned. There are several sounds that aren't written with the Latin one that easily. One example out of many is the so-called "thorn" sound. "th" as in "thank you", not as in "them".


- Norman French rule over England, because of countless Français loan words that became part of English as the time went on.


- As they say, there was an attempt to re-synchronize the spelling with the original Latin words. That lead to several big changes. In some cases, they could even have been something without any real base. As it would be the case with "island", which is of Germanic origin, unlike "isle". Because of the similarity to Latin "insula", they added the S that even we, today, still do write.

End of the (non-verbatim) quote.


- There are very many international loanwords from all parts of the world. 

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#5
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Ted-Ed had a wonderful piece related to this. (goes off to look for the video)




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ikay

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ikaymoreno wrote:
Ted-Ed had a wonderful piece related to this. (goes off to look for the video)


So I'm supposed to look up the history of every word i come across that is spelled one way and pronounced another.

Kevwe A.

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Oghenekevwe wrote:
So I'm supposed to look up the history of every word i come across that is spelled one way and pronounced another.


Now there might be a bit of joking involved, too.


Anyway... understanding the history of particular English words could aid remembering the spelling.


But it isn't a requirement of course. 


On the other hand, how to be certain about the pronunciation?


We would have certainty by listening to that particular word first, or reading its IPA transcription.


Some who teach English to non-natives use to say, "You cannot be sure about how it is pronounced unless you have learned it. The letters on their own don't fully provide sufficient information".


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#8
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Posts137Likes82Joined3/9/2018LocationLagos / NG
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Great post. Its just like some words in some languages that have the same spelling but different meanings

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#9
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Posts270Likes101Joined15/9/2018LocationSkopje / MK
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I always had weird feelings towards English being the #1 language (you know what I mean...) in the world cause of these things tbh..


I love our (Macedonian) language and alphabet cause what you write is how you pronounce it. Every letter stands for itself in every sentence.

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#10
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Posts459Likes277Joined8/7/2018LocationAlmeria / ES
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I posted the opening video before a while back when the site first began it is actually one of my favourite poems to dissect. The English language is so borrowed from many other languages and this is why we have a lot of vowel sound changes which cannot follow the rules the language dictates are there. In my classes we teach vowel combinations phoenetically but even those are subject to change quite often. Reading and writing in English i therefore considered quite difficult by many foreigners studying it and indeed by some natives it i literally a case of memorizing the ones that go against the grain. 


One of my favourite silly questions (riddles) is how do you spell Fish in english with 5 letters instead of 4 without using an S?


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GHITI... the GH from the end of the word Cough and the TI from words which edn with tion or tian. (like nation, or martian)

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#11
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I was looking for a nice spelling video for my kid and found this. :)




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ikay

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#12
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I just thought of this joke


"English is a difficult language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though." 

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#13
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dragonsky wrote:

I just thought of this joke

"English is a difficult language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though."

that's an awesome quote I love it and an stealing it

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#14
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Jade.Xuereb wrote:
dragonsky wrote:
I just thought of this joke
"English is a difficult language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though."
that's an awesome quote I love it and an stealing it

Jsut to clear it up it's not sometihng I came up with haha :D I just re-read my post and it may sound as if I came up with it haha 

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#15
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Posts5Likes5Joined13/4/2019LocationAU
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"The unlucky thing for English spelling is that during the very same time, huge changes in pronunciation were happening. Middle English was becoming Modern English. ... So we get one spelling for many vowel sounds—ea in knead, bread, wear, and great—and multiple spellings for one vowel sound—due and dew, so and sew." - Google says it..


I was searching the topic and found this short crispy answer in Google.

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#16
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Posts37Likes15Joined19/9/2019LocationSão Paulo / BR
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Besides the language history already mentioned in the replies above, you always have to take into consideration the distance between written and spoken language. I believe there's no single language in which this distance is not huge, as far as spoken language is alive, it means, spoken language is always adapting and updating itself. Brazilians complain a lot about this topic and, as a teacher, I often remind them of our own language phonetic realizations.

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