Friday, September 24, 2010


Non-English speakers are often puzzled by the most unphonetic spellings and inconsistent pronunciation. Think of these sounds: o in hot, u in up, e in red, a in mad, i in bit. You can never be sure of English pronunciation. Words spelled the same way but pronounced differently, such as beard and heard, road and broad, low and how, blood and book, four and tour, break and speak, though and through, or think of comb, tomb and bomb.

To add to the confusion let’s look at some “misnomers”, that is words that designate a meaning different from what the word might indicate, as there is no grape in grapefruit, no butter in buttermilk, no apple in pineapple, and the fact that sweetmeat is neither sweet nor meat but candy, and that sweetbreads is meat.

Let’s not forget these two very common expressions as we park on driveways and drive on parkways.

As Richard Lederer points out: “ In what other language your feet can smell and your nose can run.”


  1. Anthony, so true! I really like what you say here because as English speakers we pay no mind to this. I teach immigrant students who struggle with this very stuff, what we take for granted.I will use your post in a future lesson. Thank you for a thought-provoking post!

  2. Hi Anthony,
    This post is funny because it's true. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. Hope to see more examples like the ones you pointed out.