Tuesday, 27 May 2014


It's not that English is a logical language. It's anything but. It's highly irregular and its spelling reflects pronunciation from 500 years ago, if we're lucky.

But can somebody please tell my why when we "convert" into English from another language we pick such peculiar choices of spelling? At that point we have an opportunity to right wrongs. Who does this anyway?

Exhibit A: Feng shui. This is a term from traditional Chinese, and it's written quite differently in Hanzi characters. And pronounced FUNG SHWAY. So why on earth did some doofus decide to write it as feng shui?

Exhibit B: Russian surnames, ending in -chev, pronounced -chof. Originally written in the Russian alphabet, whose daft idea was it to spell them so eccentrically in English?

Exhibit C: The toque.  This is the one that absolutely drives me effing nuts. In France, for MANY centuries, there has been a style of hat called a toque, which was originally any hat with no brim, but more recently described a chef's hat. It is pronounced TOKE. I have asked around from Brittany to Provence, and they all say TOKE.


Here in the English speaking part of Canada what do we call a woolly hat? A TOOK. We have an alternative spelling of tuque for that, which is the one I use religiously, because YOU CAN'T GET TOOK FROM TOQUE. It cant be done. I don't care what bastardized Frenglaish you speak, that MAKES NO SENSE.

So are there two words here or what? I don't know, your guess is as good as mine, but:

Toque is TOKE
Tuque is TOOK

And any confusion therein is your own bloody fault.

Exhibit D: In North America nobody can say Colonel. They actually physically can't do it. I did a long blog on why this is once, but it's like the Japanese trying to say Australia.

Listen to me. The Japanese are intelligent people. They KNOW they have this issue, so the Japanese name for Australia is Os-too-ray-ree-ah. They can say that. I'm sure the Australians don't mind.

But North Americans? No. Instead of choosing a spelling like Kernal (the way they say it), or changing the pronunciation of the word to something they can manage, they settled on a spelling and a pronunciation that bear no resemblance to each other. Despite all the changes Webster inflicted on American English, he missed an opportunity there.

1 comment:

  1. I often ask the same question. The Japanese have a legitimate excuse in that the language is so highly structured and certain sound combinations just don't exist for them.