high streets

Have you nerticed  the quirkyness of English? Not the people; the language.  It’s the most significant on the planet and yet it is just about the most irregular, polyglot, rapacious (in its ability to borrow), adaptable, frustrating and evolving language mankind has ever known. Despite its influence it is almost certainly one of the hardest to master because of its many peculiararities.  And we speak it every day and rarely trouble ourselves with its intricacies. But as regular readers will know that’s a dead cert subject for me to reflect upon. The Eurozone’s in crisis, austerity beckons and yet I  about words when I ought to be hard at work.  Take that word ‘work’. It’s innocuous isn’t it? As we all know it means to toil or be employed. But have you noticed how it is pronounced – like werk?  Nothing funy on the face of it but look at a host of other words spelt the same way like pork, cork and fork. In dozens of cases it’s an ‘or’ sound in the middle. Why is work pronounced differently? Don’t you find it odd? And here’s something odder; there’s already a word beginning with a and pronounced like ‘pork’ but it is spelled ‘walk‘. Interesting, the letters ‘al‘ as in ‘pale’ or ‘talc’ or ‘real’ are pronounced as ‘or‘? Is this what they mean by perfidious Albion?  How on earth do foreign students ever grasp our language? But they do with seemingly apparently ease, and yet after 5 years in Italy, which has an almost perfectly constructed language, I probably know no more than 10 phrases and 100 words, sigh.

Continue reading