I’m an Indian. And you must have probably heard about the explosive population in our country. In addition to that, we have a wide variety of regional dialects too. As per The Economist, the total accounts to a sum of 438 languages. Of course, I’m no linguist. In fact, I’m only comfortable in two languages: English and Hindi. Hindi is my mother tongue and I’ve been getting education in English medium. But I was never fond of learning English as a kid. (Since elementary school, we were taught both the languages) But learning new words in English had always been a challenge for me. No, not because I felt content with my vocabulary, it’s just that, English is not quite a phonetic language. Hence, every time I come across a new word, I’ve to think of all possible ways in which it could be pronounced and then chose the one which will (according to me) make me look least stupid. At times, there are words everyone around me know about, but somehow I don’t, and if I pronounce it wrong, I feel immensely ignorant and stupid. Hence, my agony!
On the contrary, Hindi is written in Devnagri script, and it is perhaps one of the most phonetic languages there are, in the world. Even if I can’t speak very fluent pure Hindi, I can easily read a new word almost flawlessly. (I mean, yeah, I wouldn’t know its meaning but how would those around me know that unless I tell them explicitly. 😛 ) Thus, a little more frustration adds on, on comparison between the two. Being one of the most commonly spoken languages across the globe, being fluent in English is a must and one cannot afford to ignore it.
Okay, I hope you know the words, “enough”. “women”, and “nation”. Pretty common words. Now consider the following picture:
Funny, eh? Well, the word “ghoti” has been constructed only to illustrate the irregularities in the pronunciation in English language. Thus, I don’t quite acknowledge its existence in English language, honestly. Yet, it brings out the concerns of those who support English reform movements. George Bernard Shaw, a famous Irish also supported this cause and this usage of this word is attributed to him. I took it as a nice joke, but on further consideration, I also came to believe some reforms will only increase its popularity.
A Dutch writer, traveler and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenite wrote a poem titled “The Chaos”, which till now is probably the most cited literature exemplifying the spelling irregularities of English language. Here’s the link to the poem, in case you’re curious to read it: