Category Archives: spelling

Strangeness in the English Language

English is a strange language. There are many words spelled the same but pronounced differently, also there are words pronounced the same, but spelled differently. then there are words that are the same in spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings, depending on context.

The strangest, in my opinion, are words ending in -ough.

We have:

 Though, pronounced ‘tho’
 Bough, pronounced ‘bow’. (although that in itself has different pronunciations)
 Enough, pronounced ‘enuf’
 Thought, pronounced ‘thort’
 Through, pronounced ‘threw’

No wonder foreigners have some difficulty with it, although (another one, similar to ‘though’, here) it seems they are able to manage quite well if the number of foreigners who speak the language extremely well is anything to go by.

I was in an Italian restaurant in Germany and was greatly amused to see the German waiter speaking to a French customer in English. This also happened when I was in Croatia. The Croatian receptionist spoke to a visitor, whom I think was Russian, in English. These strange inconsistencies seem not to faze them, even if they confuse some native speakers!

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Words That Don’t Follow Normal Plural Rules

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Today I’m going to discuss a few words that don’t form the plural by adding the letter ‘s’. These words come mainly from foreign ‘imports’, although a lot are very old. Some people are confused by these words and use the plural as a singular.
So here we go.

 Singular: Bacterium        Plural: Bacteria
 Singular: Phenomenon        Plural: Phenomena
 Singular: Medium            Plural: Media
 Singular: Datum            Plural: Data
 Singular: Criterion            Plural: Criteria
 Singular: Cactus            Plural: Cacti
 Singular: Fungus            Plural: Fungi
 Singular: Stadium            Plural: Stadia
 Singular: Nucleus            Plural: Nuclei
 Singular: Syllabus            Plural: Syllabi
 Singular: Focus            Plural: Foci
 Singular: Thesis            Plural: Theses
 Singular: Crisis            Plural: Crises
 Singular: Index            Plural: Indices
 Singular: Appendix        Plural: Appendices

It is becoming more acceptable to hear ‘stadiums’, ‘syllabuses’ and ‘indexes’, although they grate on me, personally, but my least favourites are when I hear ‘criteria’, ‘bacteria’, ‘fungi’ and ‘phenomena’ used as singular nouns. Grrrrr!

Now for some that don’t change for the plural.

 sheep
 deer
 fish (although the word ‘fishes’ can be used if referring to a number of different types of the creatures. e.g. There was a great variety of fishes swimming around on the reef.)
 aircraft
 moose
 offspring
 species
 salmon
 trout

Now what about those that are completely different in the plural? Here we have the following:

 Singular: Child            Plural: Children
 Singular: Man            Plural: Men
 Singular: Woman            Plural: Women
 Singular: Mouse            Plural: Mice
 Singular: Goose            Plural: Geese (N.B. The plural of ‘mongoose’ is not ‘mongeese’, but ‘mongooses’. Wierd, I know, but that’s the English language for you.)
 Singular: Die             Plural: Dice
 Singular: Foot             Plural: Feet
 Singular: Louse             Plural: Lice
 Singular: Ox             Plural: Oxen
 Singular: Person             Plural: People
 Singular: Tooth             Plural: Teeth

I hope this has helped some of you, at least. I would like to know if there are any I’ve forgotten, or about any that personally grate on you when you hear them misused.

 

Strange English spellings

 

 

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Today is a day when I address some things about our beautiful, interesting, but strange language.

There are many words in English that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. Also there are words pronounced the same, but spelled differently. Then there are words that are the same in spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings, depending on context.

The strangest, in my opinion, are words ending in -ough.

We have:

 Though, pronounced ‘tho’
 Bough, pronounced ‘bow’. (although that in itself has different pronunciations)
 Enough, pronounced ‘enuf’
 Thought, pronounced ‘thort’
 Through, pronounced ‘threw’

No wonder foreigners have some difficulty with it, although (another one, similar to ‘though’, here) it seems they are able to manage quite well if the number of foreigners who speak the language extremely well is anything to go by.

I was in an Italian restaurant in Germany and was greatly amused to see the German waiter speaking to a French customer in English. This also happened when I was in Croatia. The Croatian receptionist spoke to a visitor I think was Russian in English. These strange inconsistencies seem not to faze them, even if they confuse some native speakers!

10 words I found an author had confused.

I recently read a book in which the author made many mistakes in the word he chose to use. I won’t embarrass him by naming the book or author just in case he ever looks at this post. Suffice it to say that it isn’t the usual genre I read, being horror.

I actually found the storyline quite good and it read with pace, but here are some of the mistakes he made with words.

1. Traverse: Transverse

Traverse is a verb meaning to go across something, like, as in the story, a forest.
Transverse is an adjective meaning something that goes across something else. e.g. a diagonal line crossing a shape, or a piece of wood going across another to form a cross.

The author wrote ‘…the only way to transverse the property…’

2. Disperse: Dispense

Disperse means to scatter. E.g. The crowd dispersed in an orderly manner.
Dispense means to do without. E.g. As the weather was warmer, he dispensed with wearing a coat.

The author wrote  ‘…dispersed with human words…’

3. Soul: Sole
This one amused me greatly.
Soul is the spiritual part of a person that carries on after death.
Sole is the base of a shoe, or the only one.

The author wrote ‘…rubber boots, their souls encased in mud…’

4. Boarded: Bordered

Another amusing one.
Boarded means to get onto a ship, coach, aircraft, bus etc
Bordered means to go round the edge of something.

The author wrote ‘Two candles boarded a statue of the Buddha.’

5.Forth: Fourth

Forth is to set off, go or depart.
Fourth is the one after third and before fifth.

The author wrote ‘He dumped the first three cards and was in the process of leading the forth.’

6. Hold: Holed

Hold is to have something in one’s hands.
Holed is to hide away.

The author wrote, ”We hold up in my grandfather’s hunting cabin.’

7. Site: Sight

Site refers to a place. E.g. This is the site of the battle.
Sight refers to seeing.

The author wrote ‘He brought up the front site of the shotgun.

8. Crucifix: Crucifixion.

Crucifix is is the cross on which people were killed in Roman times.
Crucifixion is what happens on the cross.

The author wrote, ‘The priest stood next to the first crucifixion.’
‘A large semicircle with twelve crucifixions…’
‘Strapped to the crucifixions…’

9. Finally: Finale

Finally is an adverb. It means coming at the end.
Finale is a noun and it refers to the last act.

The author wrote, ‘The grand finally…’

10. Wetting: Whetting

Wetting means to put water on something.
Whetting means to sharpen something. E.g. a stone used to sharpen a knife is called a whetstone.

The author wrote, ‘…wetting their appetite…’

Those were the main ones I noted down, as well as some common ones like were and where, choose and chose and the inevitable loose and lose.

Now I’m prepared to be generous and say some of these might, just might, be typos, but even in that case, it was poor. The manuscript should have been edited better.

It’s things like this that give self-published authors a bad name. It’s easier to get a bad name than a good one, and very difficult to get rid of a bad name once it’s been established. Unfortunately, in many people’s eyes, self-published authors are poor and produce poor books, and it’s things like this that reinforce this opinion.

So please, please, please, if you are a self-publishing author, or are thinking of self-publishing, get your manuscripts edited and all corrections made before going to press with it. At least read through it properly and get someone else (as many someone elses as you can, preferably) to do so as well if you can’t afford a professional editor. I’ve never heard anyone say they couldn’t finish a book because it had no errors, but I’ve heard many say the opposite.

Please tell me what you thought about this blog. I’m always pleased to hear what you think.

20 commonly mis-spelled words

Here are some commonly misspelled words in English. 113biggestbookdubai

 Acceptable, not Acceptible
 Accessible, not Accessable
 Achieved, not Acheived
 Acquire, not aquire
 Analysis, not Analasis
 Business, not Busness
 Ceiling, not Cieling
 Consistent, not Consistant
 Definite, not Definate
 Discipline, not Disipline
 Exhilarate, not Exilarate
 Exceed, not Exeed
 Forfeit, not Forfit (or Forfiet)
 February, not Febuary
 Height, not hight (or hieght)
 Heirarchy, not Hierarchy (or Hirarchy)
 Independent, not Independant
 Inoculate, not Innoculate
 Leisure, not Liesure
 Liaise, not Liase

English is a very odd language as far as spelling is concerned. This is because it has words and roots from many other languages. There are still a few Celtic words, although not very many. Then the Romans came bringing Latin.

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Latin was the language of scholars and it is only within living memory that it was a requirement to gain entry to Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. The Roman Catholic Church used Latin in its services until comparatively recently, and many mottos are still in Latin.

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After the Romans left these isles, we were invaded by Scandinavian. These brought their own languages with them. Today, in Scotland in particular, there are many words similar, if not the same, as those in the Scandinavian languages. Dialect words often very old and date back to those languages.

There were also the Saxons. they brought Germanic languages to this country and we have many words that are very similar to the German equivalent. An example is Mutter, meaning Mother, and Haus, meaning House.

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After the Saxons came the Normans. They were, incidentally the last people to successfully invade these isles. This was in 1066. They brought French. The Normans became the ruling classes and spoke French. The workers spoke Anglo-Saxon. This explains why we have differences in the names of food we eat and the animals it comes from.

The French for a bull is Boeuf from which comes Beef. But in the field it is called a Bull, cow or in the plural, cattle.

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The French for a sheep is Mouton, from which comes Mutton, but in the field it’s still the old word, sheep.

The French for a calf is Veau from whence we get Veal.

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You get the picture.

Then Dutch engineers were brought in to drain what is now the Fens in East Anglia and they brought words with them. The British Empire was a source of words too, especially India.

So our language is something of a hotch-potch, hence the different spellings and pronunciation.

I will add to these words in a future blog. I hope you find this useful.