Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confounded language!

For the past two hours or so, I've been watching the All-Star game on television while working my (what else?) word games. I just HAD to stop and at least start this post. [Might have to pause a time or two to run back into the other room to cheer on the National League. At the moment we are leading 2-0.]

OK. Ready? Here we go. The answer to the latest puzzle that I completed was, "I kissed a frog because I'd heard that it could turn into a prince. That's not exactly what occurred, and I've been croaking ever since." (Rrivit!)

Amongst the clues to the final solution were these:

('Seeing double' was the category)

1. Pleasant French resort ... ... niceNice
2. Leave the Sahara ... ... ... desertdesert
3. Low-voiced fish ... ... ... bassbass
4. Warsaw varnish ... ... ... Polishpolish

I have written three posts on spelling. The "Its" vs. "It's" one was really good, I think. The other two, on "Their/There/They're", pretty much sucked. (And those were the EASY ones!)

What can I tell you? While I very much enjoy word games, most people (it's been my personal observation) shy away from them like horses when encountering snakes.

[Well, poopee! While I was out of the room, some weirdo from the American League hit a homerun, and the score is now tied. Double poopee!!]

When I was in high school more than fifty-some years ago, I noticed that there were a whole lot of people in my class who were deficient in their spelling skills. I mentioned this to the principal (I didn't like him very much, but I did it because I was concerned.), who asked (while playing with his ugly mustache), "Which words did you have in mind?"

Struggling for an answer (didn't have one at the ready), I responded, "Well, 'ecstasy' for example." His 'put down' was, "What would you know about ecstasy?" Cute? And so, with that nasty response any possible infusion of spelling skills into our curriculum skittered off into the gutter.

[The 'good guys' are now ahead, 3-2. Hooray!]

Folks, problems with spelling of our common language have been in existence for many years. Nothing new on that score.

[Triple poopee!!! Billy Wagner, whom I didn't at all care for when he was here with the Astros, just allowed a tying run to the bad guys. Boo! Hiss!]

Much of the time the reader can discern the meaning, and thereupon hopefully extrapolate the correct pronunciation, of a word that has a common spelling with another by context within the sentence. What happens, though, when one is trying to actually compose or write? I don't have an easy answer for that, I'm sorry to say.

How about these for 'nasties'?

1. I saw some nice gneiss while visiting Nice.
2. I didn't want to desert my dessert while I was in the desert.
3. The sound of his bass voice was loud and clear while he was cleaning the bass at the base of the cliff.

[Going to the 10th, score all tied up.]

And how about the "ough" words? You know, like 'enough' (uff), 'bough' (ow), 'through' (oo), 'thought' (aw), and 'though' (oh). You DO know that 'fish' can be spelled 'ghoti', don't you? (If you don't, ask me about it in a 'comment', and I'll give you the answer. By the way, it's true.)

[Tejada just got a base hit. Gotta go watch. ... ... Never mind, one of our good guys just hit into a double play. Going to the bottom of the 10th. ... ... Heavens! The bad guys had the bases loaded with nobody out but they didn't score, and we're now going to the 11th! Rrivit!!]

Keep your dictionary/Wiktionary handy, that's all I've got to say!

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