Stupid English

@ElicBxn (60895)
United States
February 18, 2018 2:06am CST
So, I was playing a game and said "Think I'll head to bed." Why is "head" spelled that way and "bed" spelled differently? Couldn't it be "hed" to rhyme with "bed"? Besides, "bead" is a word and the "ea" is said "ee" as in "see." And another thing! "Said" is said like "bed" and "head." Okay, maybe some people say it more like "grade" but I don't hear it around here. And then there's those "your" and "you're"; "here" and "hear"; "there" "their" and "they're." Oh, there are many more, but its just crazy. How does anyone learn to speak it?
7 people like this
8 responses
@owlwings (39761)
• Cambridge, England
18 Feb
A lot of our spelling anomalies go back to the way that words used to be pronounced a long time ago (and can sometimes still be heard as such in some parts of England). "Head" and "bead" used to be pronounced with a dipthong ("ee-uh", similar to the sound of 'ea' in 'real') but 'bed' always had a short 'e' sound. Some spellings, like "said" and "heard" are probably that way more because they are parts of verbs, in this case, "say" and "hear", respectively, even though the vowel sounds "ay/ai" and "ea[r]" may have been slightly different when spoken. Of course, native English speakers nearly always learn to speak first and then have to struggle with matching the written words with the spoken words and learning the correct spelling for each. Very often, people learning English approach it the other way round and see the written word before they learn how to pronounce it (and learn its meaning).
5 people like this
@LadyDuck (176607)
• Switzerland
18 Feb
You are correct. People who learn English as a second language, see how it is written first. If they are lucky to have an English teacher, they also learn how it is correctly spelt (I still prefer this form to the widely used "spelled"that I read on this site).
4 people like this
@BarBaraPrz (20753)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
18 Feb
@LadyDuck How about lighted? It always stops me cold when I come across it instead of lit. I personally say dreamt, but dreamed doesn't bother me as much as lighted, maybe because it's still one syllable, whereas lighted sounds like something a small child would say. Ah, semantics!
2 people like this
@owlwings (39761)
• Cambridge, England
18 Feb
@LadyDuck I seem to use both spellings - "spelled" and "spelt". I believe that I have an innate rule for which I use where but I haven't yet worked out what it is. In America, "spelled" is almost universally used as the past participle (and past tense) form, while "spelt" refers to a variety of wheat. In every other English-speaking country, both forms appear to be acceptable and interchangeable and are pronounced differently as well (/speld/ and /spelt/). '
3 people like this
@Hannihar (42069)
18 Feb
I would say they learn the words with practice.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
18 Feb
I guess so. Maggiepie used to teach English as a second language, she loved it, I hated it - I'd go off to another room. Most, but not all, of her students could read English because most of them came from China, the family from India and Central America were the exceptions. I'm not quite sure why, but all the folks from China would say "egg" - "egger."
1 person likes this
@Hannihar (42069)
19 Feb
@ElicBxn Why did she stop teaching English ElicBxn?
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
19 Feb
@Hannihar her health got so bad that she had to - just so you know, she passed away in January 2017.
1 person likes this
@aureliah (18552)
• Kenya
18 Feb
I have no idea. Sometimes English doesn't make sense.
1 person likes this
@aureliah (18552)
• Kenya
19 Feb
@ElicBxn This is quite intersting. I hvave never heard or thought of this
1 person likes this
@bagarad (12747)
• Paso Robles, California
18 Feb
They just do. Or at least they used to. I'm not sure English teachers care as much anymore. What I was pondering today was how those who use speech apps to post online can be sure the app will use the right homophone when it sounds exactly like a word that means something different.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
18 Feb
Me too. I remember one member who I haven't seen here since myLot "returned" used Dragon, but she obviously knew that the homophones would get the program because she always had the right one. My wife said that you would probably need to spell those words out for it.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (12747)
• Paso Robles, California
18 Feb
@ElicBxn Thanks for enlightening me.
1 person likes this
• United States
19 Feb
i've talked to 2nd language speakers..and they told me english drove them crazy with all it's quirks..like silent letters..
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
19 Feb
Believe me, I only speak English and I never have gotten phonics - because of those letters we don't say but "modify" other letters - cap-cape, hat-hate. However, this does go back to the language learning disability that I've figured out I have.
1 person likes this
@Plethos (10920)
• United States
19 Feb
Because its american and we'll spell it however we please.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
19 Feb
actually, even when we say them differently, except for a few words that have retained their French spelling in Great Britain - colour, harbour - we spell words the same in England and the States.
1 person likes this
@Shiva49 (13982)
• Singapore
18 Feb
Being from a non-English speaking background it was not easy to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of spelling and pronunciation but now I overlook and accept them. I know some languages have gender issues too and it is tough for a non native speaker - siva
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
18 Feb
English really is crazy. English seems to have abandoned the gender endings from the original Germanic sources about the time the Vikings started invading and settling.
1 person likes this
@BarBaraPrz (20753)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
18 Feb
Speaking and hearing a language are different from reading a language, especially in days of yore...
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
18 Feb
And people used to say these words differently, I know that. I love history, and my favorite English class in college was History of the English Language - the least favorite class of my friend with an English major.