Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 4 months ago

What does it mean that English is not read in the same way it is written?

12 Answers

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  • 3 months ago

    A spelling reform sounds nice.It is not as easy as it was with Dutch.Example Mensch was changed to mens.

    I have some books in old Dutch.To take the English word READ.What are we going to do with it? Reed,red ?

    Mr. Webster tried to change spelling in the U.S.He changed a few words but in the case of Neighbour to neighbor he did only a partial spelling change.What about Night and knight.

  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Because of heteronyms.

    In most language, you may have words that written differently but pronounced the same (like "ph" is made to sound like "f"), but almost only in English do you have heteronyms, words that are written EXACTLY the same, and pronounced differently.

    Like "lead" (what a leader does) and "lead", the soft metal. Or to "live" ("Live long and proper") and a show that is "live".

    How to pronounce those words cannot be derived from the spelling, you need the context.

    And for many other words, even if they have their own unique spelling, the same group of letters may be pronounced in a massively different way, meaning that you cannot learn how to pronounce from book, unless the word is expanded in phonetic alphabet.

  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Apart from the pronunciation examples given, there are other times when the read-aloud version differs from the written one. For instance, when we read "July 4," we are likely to say "July fourth," or if we read "11:00" we often say "eleven o'clock."

  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    It seems obvious that reading English is not the same as writing English but perhaps someone is trying to say "English is not always pronounced the way it is written."

    • M.
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      It's not the way it is written.
      It's the way words are spelled.

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  • 4 months ago

    Two things in most cases.

    Many spellings represent old pronunciations no longer used. "Knight" is a good example of that. Both the "k" and the "gh" were dropped from pronunciation by c. 1700.

    The second is preservation of foreign word spellings that conflict with both English spelling in native words and the spelling of words borrowed from another foreign language. Thus, we end up with words like "chimera" from Greek probably by way of a Latin spelling of the word, in which the "ch" sounds like "k" as opposed to "chase", a word borrowed from French. This difficulty is mainly due to the influence of scholarly writers who wanted to show off their knowledge of foreign languages.

    • Don Verto
      Lv 7
      3 months agoReport

      Compare knight with the Dutch knecht.The Dutch word is written as it is pronounced.

  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Modern English is an amalgamation of other languages. There are words in the English language that have pronunciations that follow some strange rules.

    Take SQUIRREL for instance. It's a single syllable word with 2 vowels separated by consonants.It should be read as skwor-rahl. Instead, it's read as skworl. The REL at the end is pronounced as a string of consonants. So, it's a word that's not read as it's written.

    There are other words that have multiple pronunciations. Take Minute for example. It's 1 minute past the hour. You probably pronounced minute as mihn-uht.

    But, there's a minute chance that you miss pronounced it. In this second example, it's pronounced like mah'ee-noot.

    The first pronunciation is used when minute is time, while the second pronunciation is used for comparison.

    You then have the homonyms that can be hard to understand when read out of context. Try to figure out which witch you are using. For native speakers, they're there in their writings. For which and witch, both are pronounced like wi-t-ch. For Their, They're and There, those are all pronounced like th-air. The result is multiple words that are confusing out of context.

    So, English has words that are non-intuitive based on the rules that govern most other languages. Learning to read English naturally is difficult for foreigners.

    • bluebellbkk
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      In British English 'squirrel' IS a two-syllable word. We DO say 'SQUIRR - el'. And in Scotland we DO aspirate the 'wh' at the beginning of 'where', 'why', which' etc.

  • MARK
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    The written form of English does not match its pronunciation. For example, if you see the group of letters in English, '-ough', you will not know how to pronounce that syllable unless you know how to pronounce the entire word of which it is a part. That particular combination of letters represents nine different sounds.

    In some languages it is far easier to know how a word or syllable will be pronounced by looking at the written form. Such languages are said o be phonetic. Some of the most phonetic languages are Maltese, Finnish, Albanian and Georgian.

  • Lôn
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    Take the names Leicester and Cholmondely and Mainwairing...they are not pronounced as you'd expect.

  • Petter
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    It means what it says. Like for example. Women (plural) are not pronounced "wo-men", but "we-men", it's not read the way it's written. Or laugh, is not pronounced "lawg", but "lahf"

    • RE
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      Did you know that "woman" was derived from "womb-man," when "man" meant "human being"?

  • 4 months ago

    The perspective of the reader.

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