The Complexities Of English Spelling

I found an article online that explores the reasons why English has such confusing and inconsistent spellings, making it one of the hardest languages to learn.

This may be of interest to writers, and to those studying English as a foreign language.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-the-english-spelling-system-so-weird-and-inconsistent?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

55 thoughts on “The Complexities Of English Spelling

  1. This was really interesting! I knew some of these things but it was cool to read it from more of a contextual standpoint. People mostly spoke English but when there was a concept that had to do with governance or the official sphere, they picked out the most adequate French word (with their own spelling of course). Super interesting, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much, Pete! Even my thoughts, the last days. 😉 Honestly, the English language is wonderful, but as an foreign language one should learn it in earlier ages. In my meaning our English lessons at school were only very short overview. Now, i am struggling a little bit with it. Lol Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Pete! I am blushing. 😉 Well, its still annoying me, having learned Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew. But now, apart from very little Italian, not having a properly usable language. This is this ancient humanist education, that I have always valued so much. xx Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Gaelic is more difficult to learn than any other language. It looks like you should be able to work out how to say a word but it’s often impossible. My teachers always said at the start of class we should take off our ‘English’ glasses and put on our Gaelic ones!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure you could well be right, Mary. I have never even attempted to learn it. I have enough trouble with Irish names, and their spellings. Or is that Irish, not Gaelic? I’m never sure. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I tried learning Irish some years back, and found it frustratingly difficult, but if I’d spent more time on it, I might have been able to reach a basic level of understanding; the spelling is mad, though! [by English standards, of course!] Cheers, Jon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read several books on the evolution of languages; it’s a fascinating subject for me. When I was in the 5th Grade, my school had a spelling bee. I was picked to be in the contest. There were also 6th Graders in it. Obviously, everyone assumed an older 6th Grader would win. But I proved them wrong; I won the bee. That must have really stung the ego of the 6th Graders! The point is that I’ve always been very strong when it comes to spelling, and believe that gave me an advantage when learning French.

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    1. I was good at spelling from an early age. When I was ten, in junior school, I was picked for the school Quiz Team. We had a general knowledge round, followed by a spelling and grammar section. Our school won the cup, out of twelve other south London schools. At the age of ten, I had to spell the word ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism’. I got it correct, and recall being overly proud of that. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this, Pete. Perfect for one of my students, who likes clear rules, and finds English pronunciation and its randomness quite challenging. Basic English is quite easy compared to other languages, but becoming truly fluent and getting the hang of some of its peculiarities is tricky, as I know full well.
    I read a fair bit of grammar blogs and posts, and considering how much discussion some items generate, it seems to be far from straightforward.
    Oh, there’s definitely a UK setting available on Grammarly.
    Keep well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for confirming the Grammarly tip, Olga.
      I have heard from foreign friends that they found Englsh easy to learn to speak, especially conversational English. However, the spelling inconsistencies made them very frustrated. ‘Easy’ words like ‘Bow and Bough’ are good examples of that. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  6. I totally disagree that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. It may have some quirky facets, but it is a flexible language and has more or less become the lingua franca worldwide. Try learning greek where every word is declined… I’m sure other languages are more difficult too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that languages like Greek, Russian, Chinese and Japanese are harder, not least because they involve learning a new alphabet or characters. I was quoting the atricle to some extent, which states a belief that the way English words are ambiguously spelled makes it hard to learn.
      Thanks, Marina.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  7. At one time, many years ago, I had a decent command of my native language. I wrote stories long hand on a yellow tablet and then by a typewriter, which made me think about spelling before I hit the key. With a laptop, its far too easy to blow and go. I now use Grammarly as my editing program because it does check spelling and sentence structure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The only editing programme I have is Google UK, and me re-reading it over and over. I don’t use any grammar software, as it tends to default to US spellings.
      I still make mistakes of course! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. I am with you on Chinese. Those characters have so many nuances. When I went to China, I learned very few words. “Hello’, ‘Thank You’, ‘Renminbi’ (the currency) and ‘On the right here’ (for taxis). I couldn’t understand a single character though, and I am sure my pronunciation must have sounded appalling. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried to learn Russian in the late 1970s. Couldn’t get my head around the Cyrillic alphabet. When I went to the old Soviet Union, I pronounced the words in English. For example ‘PECTOPAH’ translates to Restaurant. (RESTORAN) I just said ‘pecto-pah’, but at least knew it was a restaurant. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Add to those quirkies, penmanship of the day. Even as recent as our own Declaration or our Constitution… example.. “Congress” was written as “Congreff'”. Then you have spelling “dialect”… we spell “color” and the Commonwealth spells it “colour”..
    As Shaw said… “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha.. yep… cute post back in 2012. You travel to our Appalachia region in the Smokies they supposedly have the closest dialect leftover from when the Brits were here. Although story goes they are all in-bred and have illegal whiskey stills.

        Liked by 1 person

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