It’s National Grammar Day. I am sure there are a few of us out there celebrating this. We talk a lot in my classes about this difficult language of ours. I cannot imagine learning it as a second language. So many rules all of which we break six ways from Sunday and rarely with good reason.
Our language is bizarre in so many ways. Just look at read. We read today, but we read yesterday. Look at that sentence in print and it looks fine, read it aloud, and the problem is obvious. How does a non-native speaker pick up on all those nuances?
We deboard a plane and defrock a priest, but we debut a novelist. Seriously? In the first, you are exiting, in the second you are robbing someone of something, and in the third you are bringing annointing someone special. All with the prefix de- meaning separation.
And pronunciation won’t save you. A nook (well, before Barnes and Noble anyway) is a small space but a kook is someone off their rocker. A non-English speaker would expect that double “o” sound to be the same; but of course, it’s not.
Then there’s that whole article thing. We can’t make it easy and say use a consonant with a and a vowel with an. No, we have to say use a consonant SOUND so instead of looking for the letter, we have to sound it out. Okay for a native speaker but again, hell if you’re learning this language first time around.
She wore a ring. Consonant sound = a
She sliced an onion. Vowel Sound = an