3/30/09

The wierdness of English - or weirdness

There are just too many exceptions and rule-breakers in American English. These exceptions confound and confuse many of us, but are especially confusing to ESL learners and Orangeboy. Once he memorizes a rule about English or spelling he, quite rightly, expects it to always apply. It is just impossible to adequately explain so many exceptions, but I do my best. The best answer I have to give is that many words were derived from words in other languages and are pronounced according to the rules of THAT language - sort of - errr- sometimes. Like when we say "bow-kay" for bouquet which is from French. Right? The French like to put extra letters at the end of words to make them look fancy, but they don't pronounce all those letters.

And then there are NAMES. Trying to decide how to properly pronounce a name can lead to lengthy arguments between Orangeboy and Antagonist S (a.k.a. Orangeboy's sister). For the life of me I can't figure out why they don't just ASK somebody who would know. I guess that's too easy. It's like when I'm watching a TV show thinking, "If the woman wasn't expecting anyone to ring her doorbell so late at night, why did she just open the door without looking out or anything? If she hadn't opened the door, she wouldn't have been murdered and then the detectives wouldn't have discovered that she was a Kindergarten teacher by day and escort by night, and they wouldn't have connected her to all those prominent city leaders including that judge!"
But that would be too easy and they wouldn't have had an episode.

Anyway... Today Antagonist S was trying to tell me who they learned about today in school. At first, I thought she was telling me about a storybook character named Mary the Baboon. Then she tried to correct herself and it sounded like she said, Mary Beth Bafoon.

Orangeboy said, "No, it's Mack-cloy-ed."

I said, "WHAAAA?! Did you learn about a baboon? Or was that a BAFOON?"

Antagonist S: "Mary Mack-clowd Bah-foon!"

Me, the Mom: "Did you learn about an animal or a clown?"

Antagonist S and Orangeboy: "NO! Mary Mack-cloid Befoon! She started a school!"

Orangeboy, again with the: "It's Mack-cloy-ed."

(I have to stop here and let you know that Orangeboy and Antagonist S both have trouble pronouncing "th" sounds. They both tend to make an f or v sound instead - like Muvver instead of Mother, or mumf instead of month, or even bohf instead of both.)

Me: "Is she a bafoon? Some kind of idiot?"

A or O: "No, she started a school!"

Now I get it. They are talking about Mary Mcleod Bethune, a daughter of former slaves who started the first school for African-American girls in Florida; only Orangeboy is convinced that Mcleod should be pronounced more like it looks, and they are both having trouble with the "th" in Bethune.

Mary Mc-cloud Beh-THune! It was tough day at school for those two.

4 comments:

  1. I really embraced foreign languages when I got to study them. I enjoyed learning all the other rules, especially in languages with fewer exceptions than English. English really is a bitch of a language.

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  2. Foster is also very English-rule bound. To a fault. I feel sorry for his teachers and aides. (*snicker, well, maybe some of them anyway!)

    And I mess up the ie/ei thing all the time. Thier? Anyone?

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  3. You're right, Quirky Mom.
    Pixiemama, I lost in a spelling bee in 2nd grade because my word was field (feild?). I became third runner up.
    And today the kids learned about Fur-good Marshall!

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  4. "The French like to put extra letters at the end of words to make them look fancy, but they don't pronounce all those letters."

    OMG - LOVE IT LOVE IT. I don't care if it's true or not..... the lengths we go.....

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If you get the facetious, sarcastic, or humorous quality in this post, please comment! At least LOL.