Saturday, September 02, 2006

How Now Brown Cow

I can’t remember where I saw it, but their there was something on TV or the Internet the other day about people who are trying to change the official spelling of certain words to make the English language less complicated. I’ve always bin been fascinated buy by words, in and of themselves, so this subject peeked peaked piqued my interest.

I’ve amused myself on numerous occasions by thinking about the inconsistencies in the weigh way words look similar on paper butt but are pronounced differently. I’ve also wondered whether laziness or just lack of imagination was responsible for sew so many words that have entirely different meanings but sound exactly alike. Maybe there simply aren’t enough separate and distinct sounds to make a fresh word for each thing we need to right write or speak about. (Yes, I know I ended a sentence with a preposition; but that's for another blog entry.)

I’ve imagined ancient conversations that went something like this:

1st man: “Sir, what do you call the top of that mountain?”

2nd man: “That? Oh, that’s’s called a ‘peak.’”

1st man: “Naw, that can’t be right. A peek is what I take when milady's bathing in the stream.”

2nd man: “It is a peak. I’m the word expert; if I say it’s a peak, then it’s a peak.”

Curiosity and a quick Google search lead led me to the Simplified Spelling Society. Wow! These guys have it all laid out for us, complete with examples of unpredictable spellings and a history of how the English language ended up in this condition.

The SSS people make a good case for changing words we’ve learned the hard way, and the suggested spellings would no doubt be easier to learn. But what would happen to the fun? For example, without the inconsistencies, I couldn’t have written this:

Hough Nough Broughn Cough

The English language isn’t easy,
learning it is tough.
The spelling’s so confusing I
can’t understand some stough.

Variety’s the spice of life
I’ve often thought, although
I like my words consistent as
the tides that ebb and flough.

I read about an apple tree
“with gently swaying boughs,”
so shouldn’t those four-legged things
with udders be spelled “coughs”?

No, those are cows, so Webster says,
a hacking sound’s a cough.
Should not the light switch on my wall
be labeled “on” and “ough”?

There is no pattern I can find;
I’ve searched it through and through.
It simply isn’t logical.
Does this make sense to yough?


  1. Bless u and ur wrds. wht dus SSS
    say re txts? Ha! I love reading that this morning.

  2. no matter if they make it easy i couldn't spell!

  3. Oh Velvet......You are soooooo gifted with the words. I am putting off writing because I don't reading your wonderful things slightly intimidates me. I rreally think grandma's talent got to you first and totally skipped me. Keep up the good work.
    Yur cuz

  4. OOPS! I forgot to proofread first.

  5. Nooooo!! Those people must be wiped out, and quickly, before we're all reduced to using text message "language" and leet-speak. I'm going to sharpen my pitchfork and heat up the tar. Who's with me?

  6. Duly Inspired, SSS sez nuthin re txts. If it did, I wudn't ndrstnd. LOL!

    Patsy, let's don't say you "couldn't spell," let's say you "spell creatively." You make up for it in other ways.

    Cousin Postlady, thanks for the nice words, but please don't be intimidated by anything you read here or elsewhere. Blogging isn't a competitive sport; it's all about the stories -- and we want to hear yours. Besides, you're delightfully articulate on the phone; just put one word in front of the other and write the way you speak.

    Janet, I'm sure it's time to replace some pillows around here, so you can put me down for feathers.

  7. Doyou consider typos misspelled words? Is misspelled a mispelled word? Typos mean you don't have nimble fingers, not necessarily a nimble mind. Tell me I'm right. LOL!

  8. TRS, typos might LOOK like misspelled words, but they don't count as far as I'm concerned. And I agree with you: the best work of a nimble mind can be messed up by not-so-nmibel fnigres.

  9. One or two typos is permissible, but if they occur too often, that tells me that either the person is a poor speller or they don't take the time to proofread before posting. Thoughts put down on paper or on computer should be well thought-out, which means for me at least, that I type faster than I think, so I ought to slow down and read what I write before inflicting my thoughts on the world. They may not be brilliant, but they're my thoughts and I like to present myself in as good a manner as possible! (well, most of the time anyway!) :-)

  10. Haha that was brilliant and I agree wholeheartedly that words and the variety is fun.
    You got feathers and tar !!! okay, I got matches to eat, oops, heat the tar :)

    Loved the verse.

  11. really need to publish a book of your poetry. I would buy it.

  12. Hehe, that reminds me of word games we played as children: Teach, taught, taught. Preach, praught, praught.

  13. **English language ended up in this condition.** and then came Ebonics, the rest of the downfall of the English language!

    As far as spelling, I like to think of myself as a creative speller. I intentionally write words I can't spell with a messy penmanship because you can't see that I've got it all wrong. Some have come to know this secret so when they see scribbles among basically readable words they know for sure that I can't spell that word. The net doesn't offer me that kind of deception.

    I agree with you about blogging, it's about sharing not competing.


  14. What a great post - made me laugh and cry. Laugh because it was so wonderfully funny, silly and clever. Cry because my son has dyslexia and this complicated language of ours is such a challenge for him.

  15. Janet, your fastidious typing serves you well; you present your non-ordinary self beautifully.

    Sandy, they'd better not mess with all the whimsical, magical words, agreed?

    Sweet-Sister, thank you, but at this point it would be a very thin book. Cheap, though.

    Guyana-Gyal, I like that game, too. Drink, drank, drunk. Stink, stank, stunk. Think, thank, thunk.

    Austin, I hadn't thought about it, but I'll bet Ebonics would create an extra obstacle. Oh, and the sloppy handwriting diversion? Pretty tricky, LOL!

    Sunflower, thanks for sharing that with us. It's so hard to watch our children struggle. I'm sure it helps your son to know you're behind him every step of the way.

  16. Definately Velvet ~ Broomsticks and wands at the ready and set on *bookworms* and *maggots* should they dare to mess with such magical things :-)


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.