Monday, May 13, 2013
She has been eager to label colors, count higher and higher, and, in particular, learn to read. After all, for someone who adores books, it only makes sense that the next step would be to decipher what those letters mean when they're all put together, right?
Fortunately, the combination of her awesome preschool and kindergarten teachers (and the time that my husband and I have put in with practice) have come together to make for one happy 6-year-old as she is able to now read quite well.
However, in the time that my daughter has spent deciphering and learning the English Language, it has managed to show me just how many strange idiosyncrasies that we have and use every day. Who came up with these things? It didn't raise a red flag for anyone when words were continually introduced that didn't follow any of the traditional "rules" that our language already followed?
Is there any wonder that some kids struggle to make sense of it all?
In no particular order, here are six of my wonderful (stress on the sarcasm) thoughts about the English language:
1. Silent letters.
Really? Someone thought that adding in an H to "while" and a K to "know" was a good idea? We spend so long teaching kids all of the 26 letters of the alphabet and the sound that each one makes... and then we add random ones to words and say to just not pronounce them in that particular word. Nice.
2. Same letters, different sounds.
Instead of simply making letters silent, our language also includes letters that typically make one sound... but sometimes make another. The letter C, for instance, is just there to make kids guess if it is making an S sound or a K sound? Along the same lines, we stress and stress that CH make the ch- sound as in "check" or "cherry" but then we place it at the end of "stomach" and suddenly it makes a different sound?
3. Same sounds, different spellings and meanings.
Effect/affect? Where/wear? Whether/weather? They're/their/there? Accept/except? Patient (as in waiting) vs patient (as in a hospital)? State (as in the one you live in) vs state (as in something you said)? Oh, come on now. Could we have possibly made this more difficult?
4. Spelled the same, pronounced differently.
Oh wait, we can make this more difficult. Depending on the surrounding sentence, there are words that are spelled exactly the same but are pronounced differently. For instance, "Let's read this book," and "I just read a good book" both have "read" in them, but it's in totally different tenses.
And don't even get me started on trying to figure out why "read" in past tense has an A in it when "red" the color doesn't.
5. Rules don't always apply.
We all grew up with "I before E except after C" rule, right? But not nearly as many of us know the addendum to this rule, the "Or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh."
But it's not just words with a long A that are exceptions to the I before E except after C... what about "deity" and "science?" Or words ending in "cy" that are made plural such as "fallacies," "frequencies," and "vacancies?" So basically I should just tell my child that it's probably I before E?
6. The English language is constantly changing.
We turn nouns into verbs ("He hosed off the dog" and "The way that they parent their child"); we declare that there should be commas everywhere in a list of items... and then change our minds and decide that they're not always needed; we state that all names and sentences start with capital letters and then words like "iPad" become common and that rule gets ignored; etc.
Is the silver lining at least that I'm teaching our written language to someone who isn't just now learning English? I can't imagine the difficulties that adults go through when they are trying to learn English as a second language and they encounter all of the strange exceptions, sayings and more that we use daily!
Can you think of any more wonderful things about the English language?