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English is a Really Stupid Language

As I wrote about last week, I am dyslexic and struggled to learn to read and write. The silliness of the English language is becoming more noticable now that my eldest son is starting to recognise letters. He is already able to recognise numbers1 and now we are trying to get him interested in reading text.

I thought it would be easy to pick random words and show how they can be spelt out by putting the letters together. Though this shows the first problem, the letters we learn in the alphabet song are not the same sounds they make in a word. The letter 'c' makes a 'ku' noise when it appears in a word, not 'see' as you call it as a letter on its own. Once you accept that you are teaching two sounds for each letter, you then notice that it is very difficult to find words that follow these rules.

Take for example this toy cube:

Toy Cube
Toy Cube
Toy Cube
Toy Cube

There are three large words shown on the cube2:

  • Play
  • Talk
  • Read

My son asked what the different words were, and I responded by saying 'let's work them out together':

PLAY: The P makes a ‘p’ noise, the L makes a ‘l’ noise and the A makes a... well the A and the Y get combined together to may a 'ay'. You will just have to learn that these two letters together change the sound, let's move on to the next one.

TALK: The T makes a ‘t’ noise the A makes a.. well you don't say it with an ‘a’ noise, more like an ‘o’ and then you miss out the next letter because.. OK, let's just move onto the next word.

READ: ... Actually let's find some other words.

If only we had a language where letters sound the same in all cases, you just need to learn the letter once, and never have to worry about it changing.

Ĉu iu alia volas ŝanĝi al Esperanto?

  1. Clearly destined to become a programmer, he likes to start at 0
  2. The other sides contain more text and rhymes
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