NADIA KABIR BARB
do you explain to a child why the word 'high' is spelt with
a silent 'g' and 'h' and the word 'pie' is spelt with an 'i'
and an 'e'. This is the biggest problem with the English language
--- we just cannot find any rhyme or reason for the way certain
words are spelt or pronounced. When you think you have finally
figured it all out, you are confronted with a word like "laughter"
or "tongue"! And you are back to square one.
feel amazed that we ever managed to learn English the way
we did. When we were in school, we were taught to spell in
the traditional c-a-t cat, b-a-t bat, way. But nowadays, children
are taught phonics which is a method of teaching beginning
readers to read and pronounce words by learning the sound
of letters, letter groups and syllables. In other words, Phonics
is the study of the way in which spellings represent the sounds
that make up words and of the ways in which they are represented
by conventional spellings. In reading education, children
are taught the sounds of letters and how those letters combine
to form words. It seems like such a more logical way to learn
the alphabets and to spell words and read in this manner.
If you can sound out the letters then you have a chance of
figuring out how the word is going to end up sounding like.
As I seem to be on a streak of self pity and self sympathy,
I might as well continue and carry on with my diatribe about
the irregularities of the English language! Going back to
my c-a-t gripe, how were we expected to know that 'see' 'ay'
'tee' actually spelt cat? In fact what the majority of us
did was memorise most of the words we learnt and read more
or less by word recognition. But having school going children
of my own and living in the U.K, I have had to learn the modern
method of teaching children to read which is phonics as well
to be able to help them with their reading and spellings when
the need has arisen. And trust me from personal experience,
it seems like a much easier way to go through the process
than when we were young.
with phonics, we still have the mystery of the silent letters
and groups of letters that sound like another letter in the
alphabet. Take for example, the word "photograph",
if 'ph' sounds like an 'f', why can't we just substitute it
and write "fotograf"? Would that not make life simpler?
And why bother having the silent 'c' in the word "Leicester".
Writing it as "Lester" would possibly give our poor
little brains a little respite and very likely reduce the
worlds' hair pulling syndrome drastically. I am sure there
is a valid reason behind these dormant alphabets but I sadly
am not aware of those underlying principles. I still want
to know where the word pneumonia was derived from and why
in Gods name there is a 'p' at the beginning of it! I am sure
some smart Alec is going to tell me it is derived from Greek
or Latin but that is of no comfort to you when you are trying
to explain this to a six year old child. Maybe I am being
a little pedantic but why do we pronounce b-u-t 'but' and
I shouldn't complain as I might have had to learn to spell
in German where I am told that the word for "bus stop"
is "Autobushaltestelle"! I am reliably told that
this is spelt phonetically but when a word has that many letters,
who cares anyway? And the upside to the English language is
that we don't have to figure out if the "bus stop"
is feminine, masculine or neuter. Nor whether it is in the
nominative, accusative, genitive or dative cases --- I'm sure
you get my point. How come the Americans are allowed to get
away with spelling words like "colour" and "honour"
without the 'u' and we are not! And why do they get to use
the letter 'z' in places where we use's'? To add to the chaos
they say "erbs" where we say "herbs".
As it is the whole English spelling and pronunciation situation
is confusing enough without the added worry of having to remember
the correct spelling depending on which side of the Atlantic
you happen to be sitting in.
tell me why you have to put the 'i' before 'e' except after
(R) thedailystar.net 2005