The riddle of the English language

Below is one of my favorite poems that demonstrates the ridiculousness of the English language. We use words that originate from Latin, French, Germanic roots – it’s a fascinating read if you are interested. Being in the Middle Years B.Ed program, I sometimes feel like I am trying to piece together my own pre-existing knowledge and experience with the new theories, pedagogies and practices that we are learning about.

Much like the PFL perspective of transfer that we learned about this week in ECS 410, I know that I am learning for long term application. I may resist stripping away past knowledge and beliefs that no longer work in the new paradigm, but this Negative Transfer is important to analyse. Do I let go of past learnings? Do they still hold value? Do I marry them with new ideas to create something unique, perhaps my teaching philosophy?

So, I invite you to do two things:

  1. What have you read or learned lately that you are still processing? Have you old ideas that are getting in the way of embracing this new knowledge? By comparing and contrasting the old with the new, you open yourself up to a deeper, stronger understanding once you truly reflect and resolve this within yourself.
  2. Just for fun, read the poem below aloud. How many words can you confidently pronounce? How might you use this in the classroom?

Spelling - Teaching Spelling - Spelling Rules

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,

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