Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"English, Good Sir - Do You Speak It?!"

I’ve always had a problem with the words loose, lose, and loss. Particularly, why does the presence or absence of vowels change the voicing of the consonant? And if booze has two Os, why doesn’t lose?

While the pronunciation of the S is changed by an extra O, with the words prophecy and prophesy, the pronunciation of the Y is changed by the preceding consonant.

When I was a kid there was a lot of talk in school (particularly by Pinko idiot teachers who didn’t know much) about how the English language was capricious and unforgiving and basically a stone cold pimp. Cited “evidence” included observations such as, “Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?” and other things that have been booed at the Improv since 1982. (NOTE: I guessed at that date and then received confirmation from Wikipedia. Beautiful. –ED.) It wasn’t until I was reading Chaucer in college that I learned of the Great Vowel Movement (or Shift, if you prefer) and realized that English spelling is bad because it’s old. Yes, spelling wasn’t standardized until relatively recently, but “standard” spelling came from the most-widely used options then available, and these came from spelling determined by people who pronounced things much differently.

To finish this post, I’ll point out that sometimes pronunciation of a vowel can be changed not just by the adjoining consonant, but by whether that consonant is capitalized (Polish v. polish). And that’s just retarded.

Title a paraphrase from "Pulp Fiction."

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