Posted by Kate Carlisle Nov 25 2012, 12:05 am
The English language is rich and colorful, constantly changing. New words are invented, old words are repurposed. Tracing the etymology of a word is fascinating. Our language has been influenced by nearly every other language in the world, living and dead. With skill and a passion for vocabulary, writers can communicate the most delicate of nuances, evoking emotions in a reader who is miles – or generations – away.
As writers and readers, by our very natures we have a great appreciation for the English language. But ya gotta admit… sometimes it’s stoopid. Spelling and pronunciation in English are only occasionally intuitive. Every rule has a hundred exceptions. It must be frustrating for people learning English as a second language because there’s no logic to it – we’re forced to memorize each exception as it comes. An impossible task for many native speakers!
Eight is pronounced “ate,” and yet sleight is pronounced “slite.” Take off the T and make it sleigh, and we pronounce it “slay.” Why? Because I said so.
“I knead bread” means something completely different from “I need bread.” Can you guess which is the sentence I would never use? Evidently, I’m not alone. Kneading is so rare these days that Microsoft Word gave me the blue squiggly line, asking, “Really? You knead? Yeah, right! Who are you kidding?!”
I’m convinced that the ability to spell is innate. (I had to look that one up – I couldn’t remember whether there was one N or two in innate.) Those who are born without the gene can still learn to spell, but it takes great effort. I’m fortunate that way. Spelling comes pretty easily to me, but I sympathize deeply with those for whom it doesn’t and have learned over the years not to take a spelling error as an indicator of intelligence. Some of the smartest people I know say “their” when they mean “there.” (My own personal nemesis is “here” when I mean “hear.” I get it wrong every time!)
Still, I’ll confess. It makes me cringe every time I see someone make a mistake like that, but it doesn’t make me think less of them. “It’s” when they mean “its,” on the other hand…
Were you born with the good spelling gene? What words give you trouble? What words do you see frequently misspelled, that drive you crazy?
Posted in Just For Fun, Kate Carlisle, writer's life, writing life