Press 1 for English….

But why do we make it so hard? I’ve said it before; we just have too many words. There is a plethora of words in the dictionary that we don’t use. (Plethora – how often do you use that one?) I think for every new word we invent we should at least retire some of the old ones or at the minimum recycle them.

While we are at it let’s take a look at some of our language oddities that are taught just to confuse us. Early on, in basic English classes we were taught about Synonyms, Homonyms, Antonyms and Homophones.

Why are these things so important that we had to make up a word to label each one?

A refresher course:
Synonym– Words that mean the same but different spelling. e.g. car- automobile; cut -shear
What is wrong with having  just one word? Let’s simplify! If it’s so important than why is there no synonym for the word synonym? Or no synonym for the word thesaurus that is the keeper of these gems?

Homonyms: Are words spelled like another word (and even pronounced the same)But have a different meaning. e.g. can (tin or container) and can (to be able to do something)  Same Pronunciation; Same Spelling; Different Meaning. OK! That’s what I’m talking about “word recycling”!

Homophones: A word that is pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning and spelling. e.g.some/sum; stare/stair, fort/fought; made/maid; cent (coin) and scent (smell) and sent (verb: to send)…..Same Pronunciation; Different Spelling; Different Meaning. Great example-“Our bear (the animal) cannot bear (tolerate) being bare (naked) in the winter.

Confused yet????

There are other idiosyncrasies (been waiting to use that one) in our language that even complicates things.

Why does the word monosyllabic (having one syllable) have five syllables?

Why is the word Phonetic not spelled as it sounds?

Why isn’t “palindrome” spelled the same way backwards?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

It’s no wonder our language befuddles (got to use another gem) the masses, don’t even get me started on spelling issues…….which bears the question If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know?

Mark Bartlett is a “Contributing Writer” for the Sarasota Post

Mark Bartlett

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2014-07-01