Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Illogicality

Did you know the English language lacks logic? It does.  Would you care for some examples?  How about, their there and they're, comb ('cause of the silent "b"), read and read (as in I read a book and will you read to me) and the list could go on and on.

Yesterday, thanks to dug, I found the word.  I found the word that betrays all rules and regulations of any spelling rules and regulations left in the English language.  I found the most illogically horrendous word of them all.

That word is Colonel.  As in Colonel Kurtz.

See dug was going on about the horrors of some things, then he ended his post with "The horror, the horror."  Which got me all sorts of excited because little ol' me was quick enough to catch the Heart of Darkness  / Apocalypse Now reference.  Pleased as punch doesn't adequately describe how pleased I was with myself.  And because I was pleased as punch with myself, I most definately had to share a comment with mr. dug letting him know that I most assuredly caught his Heart of Darkness reference.

So I wander on over to dug's little wordpress site to leave a comment.  For those of you who have read Heart of Darkness or have seen Apocalypse Now, you'll know that the Colonel Kurtz is the main wack-job in the paralleled fables.  For those of you who haven't read 'n seen, well then now you know that Colonel Kurtz is the main wack-job in the paralleled fables.  Anyhow, I was going to tell dug that Colonel Kurtz would agree with his aforementioned horrors.

And then it hit me... Colonel?

Colonel is pronounced kernal.  Do you see a freaking "r" in the word colonel?  Then why the hell is it pronounced with an "r"?  Someone help me make sense of this so that I can sleep tonight.

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Post post addition:
Rachel, bless her heart, has answered the question.  However, she listed another word: answer (and why don't we pronounce the w?)  So now friends, why don't you list some more words that keep us up at night...

Word nerds!  All of you!  (Or us, whatever.)

11 comments:

Rachel said...

Ooh, pick me, I've got an answer. (But why is there a w after the s in answer?)

Okay, it's really from dictionary.com:
—Pronunciation note
Colonel  /ˈkɜrnl/ Show Spelled[kur-nl] Show IPA, with its medial l pronounced as /r/[r], illustrates one source for the apparent vagaries of English spelling: divergence between a word's orthographic development and its established pronunciation. In this case, English borrowed from French two variant forms of the same word, one pronounced with medial and final /l/[l], and a second reflecting dissimilation of the first /l/[l] to /r/[r]. After a period of competition, the dissimilated form triumphed in pronunciation, while the spelling colonel became the orthographic standard.


That should clear things up.

tom lindsey said...

If you see this book pick it up ... hilarious.

http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-English-Richard-Lederer/dp/0671023233

rabidrunner said...

Tom. Where have you been? You should know, however, that I have thus far read every book recommended in the comments of any post. That one might be next...

Lars said...

Daughter, high, aisle, pie, juice, jeopardy, laugh, whistle, knife, gnarl, pneumonia, science, potpourri, jazz....

Winder said...

Yes, just try teaching 2nd graders how to read, write and spell this crazy language.

Rachel said...

This doesn't exactly fit what you are talking about (though I'm totally with you), but a phrase from the English language that drives me crazy. The phrase "a whole nother". What on earth is a "nother"? Not a real word people! (Although, I admit I say it all the time...)

radracer said...

I'm going with rough, which is pronounced like the sound I make back to kid 2 when she is in puppy mode. Ruff, ruff.

Nation would be another. I hear "s" sounds, but I don't see no "s" anywhere. I guess that "t" has just stolen a sound from it's alphabet neighbor. Thiev'n neighbors; no wonder this is such a mess. (And listen closely, there's another one: neighbor.)

All the homonyms, homophones, and homographs are enough to make the language a ghastly mess. Just try reviewing spelling words with a list of homophones (words that share the same sound but different spelling). Kid 1 now demands that spelling words be used in a sentence or that a definition be supplied. That's all fine and dandy until I can't come up with a sentence using "instants" on the fly.

Enough. (There's another one!!)

Staci said...

Rachel--I can't say that I've EVER said "a whole nother . . " I can think of a phrase that is similar which is "a whole other" like in, "well, that's a whole other story." Because, as you pointed out, "nother" is not a word.

As to the topic at hand . . . I am constantly spelling words for my kindergartener to write and seeing as I am really not up on my phonics rules, I can't explain to him why things are spelled weird. It really erodes my credibility when I just shrug and shake my head. "Wow, Mom knows nothing!"

Lars said...

I thought of another while I was making a joke today...eunuch. That word has several.

Filthy #1 said...

Okay, a little late to this party, but our youngest little angel ;) was hiding things in a small box and making us guess what was in that box. She would give us hints by giving a letter of what the object's name started with. The last one no one got, because she put a 'Chruck' (which starts with 'c' of course) in the box. I love kindergartner english!

Ryan said...

i've long since come to terms with the fact that our language is in need of a serious overhaul, but "colonel" definitely kept my up at night as a young 'un. not from apocalypse now fortunately, but the equally disturbing tale of 101 dalmatians.