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Know why "kn" is used where "n" would su

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Know why "kn" is used where "n" would su

Postby eberntson » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:12 pm

This is a french vs germanic-english thing, but why do we retain the KN. Germany just simplified there grammer & spelling, why can't we just drop the KN?
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Postby Apoclima » Sun Feb 13, 2005 5:58 pm

See:
I like the historical spellings like the "gh" in 'light' and the "k" in 'know.' And the "ph" in "phonology." They are a constant reminder of history: philosophy, science, religion and art.


Apo
Last edited by Apoclima on Thu May 26, 2005 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Verbum » Sat Mar 12, 2005 11:03 pm

Hi Eberntson,

While you're at it, why not drop the "w" as well? It does not serve any useful purpose!

When you start talking about simplification of spelling, you're opening the ultimate can of worms. What your question is really saying is that spelling should follow pronunciation.This creates a very special problem in English, where the pronunciation varies not only from country to country, but within the same country and even within the same city! (The Staten Island pronunciation is distinct from the Brooklyn pronunciation, for example.)

Take "laboratory", which Americans usually pronounce LAH-bor-uh-TOE-ree while the British usually prounounce LAB-ruh-tri. Should each side write it a different way? Very confusing.

That is why English has become a language where spelling is merely a general indication of pronunciation. We have to learn words more as a picture of an idea than an actual representation of sounds. A bit like Chinese, where symbols are used to represent whole words.

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Postby Verbum » Thu May 26, 2005 4:43 pm

Excellent post, Verbum! 8)
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Postby Apoclima » Thu May 26, 2005 7:45 pm

Verbum! Very funny!

No, our English writing system is not like the Chinese writing system. Despite all appearances, there are, in general, ways and rules and intuitions on how to pronounce an English word. True, there are many overlapping and distinct patterns, but most everyone catches on to what is silent and what is sounded differently. English spelling rules are "mostly, sometimes, often, rarely and never," but for the most part the rules are explicit, esp. if one knows the source and history of the word, but sometimes not!

daughter
slaughter
laughter

Apo
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Postby Verbum » Fri May 27, 2005 10:52 am

Hi Eric,

Of course English words are not symbols, and it is ordinarily possible to guess the pronunciation of a word from its spelling through a process of comparison and analogy. This is of course not the case in Chinese, where every symbol (usually) has to be learned individually

In reality, what I have said about English applies to any language. Once a person has learned to read by making syllables from letters and words from syllables, they very quickly pass to a phase where the words, and even the phrases, actually become shapes, drawings that are perceived as having meaning, independently of their spelling. This is the foundation of the "global method" of reading, which has been the subject of much controversy.

But if we compare English to say, Italian, we would be tempted to put English closer to Chinese than to Italian. :wink:
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Postby Apoclima » Fri May 27, 2005 2:46 pm

I am not so tempted!

Sure, shapes, patterns, whatever you want to call them, they are made up of recognizable letters.

Look-See

why students read poorer due to being forced to "learn to read" with the look-see methods.


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Postby anders » Fri May 27, 2005 5:48 pm

Verbum wrote:This is of course not the case in Chinese, where every symbol (usually) has to be learned individually

It's not quite that bad. If you learn the pronunciation of 方 (fang), you know the pronunciation (but not he tone) of all the other 13 characters including that part as a phonetic.

There are, of course, worse cases, but they may be helpful as well. The Tai part in Taiwan is often pronounced shi or zhi. That helps, really! And when I learned the word 应该 yinggai "should, ought to", it was because of the graphical resemblance between that gai and the hai in 孩子 háizi "child".

But guessing the pronunciation from Chinese written in characters seems to be almost as impossible as reading Tibetan. Who would guess that written s(a)kal(a)-l(a)gyur is pronounced "ka-gyur"?
But if we compare English to say, Italian, we would be tempted to put English closer to Chinese than to Italian. :wink:

For grammar, at least, yes.
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Postby Apoclima » Sat May 28, 2005 2:05 am

I give up! Sure, and an apple is more like an orange than a pear is (in roundness), but really that doesn't mean that the apple is more citrus-like than a pear!

Really, sometimes the way we slide around on stuff is fun and interesting, but sometimes it is infuriating, when everyone talks about different stuff and the topic just shifts and quotes are readjusted to suit the next person's observation of something else!

Thanks!

Apo
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Re: Know why "kn" is used where "n" woul

Postby frank » Sat May 28, 2005 6:57 am

eberntson wrote:This is a french vs germanic-english thing, but why do we retain the KN. Germany just simplified there grammer & spelling, why can't we just drop the KN?


What do you mean by a French versus Germanic thing???
I don't see a lot of similarities:
savoir - to know
chevalier - knight (while Gm Knecht, other meaning, same word)
genou - knee (Gm Knie)

Gm words are pronounced with /kn/.

I don't see what you mean...

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Postby English Rose » Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:52 am

Apoclima wrote: daughter
slaughter
laughter
Apo

Forgive me, but how do you pronounce slaughter? In England, it rhymes with daughter.
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Postby Maximillian » Sun Aug 28, 2005 7:50 pm

If you were looking to change or simplify spellings maybe you could start by spelling phonetic with an f.

I agree with some previous posters though - I like what the spelling tells us about the history and the origin of the word.
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Postby tcward » Sun Aug 28, 2005 9:07 pm

English Rose wrote:
Apoclima wrote: daughter
slaughter
laughter
Apo

Forgive me, but how do you pronounce slaughter? In England, it rhymes with daughter.
English Rose


ER, I do believe Apo was simply showing how daughter and slaughter are pronounced one way, and laughter is pronounced another... not that they are each pronounced differently.

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Postby badandy » Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:15 pm

English is easy! if you know greek, latin, french, and of course some germanic language.

in my ESL class i gave them this list and they all but gave up:

rough tough cough trough though thorough laugh baugh bough slough
Habentne Gallinae Talones Acerbos?
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Postby tcward » Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:18 pm

Apoclima wrote:slaughter
laughter


Apo's earlier post must have been witnessed by someone at Comedy Central. They broadcast a show called Drawn Together, which I don't watch since I don't have cable TV at home, but is apparently a parody/spoof of "reality shows" where a bunch of incompatible people are forced to live together and individuals are selectively voted off the group by the collective... Anyway, that's beyond the point here. More to the point is that it is quite ... let's just say it definitely is NOT politically correct.

So, back to Apo's quote above... My family was on vacation a few weeks ago and the hotel, of course, had cable TV, and occasionally Comedy Central advertised that the new season for Drawn Together would be starting soon, with a new character...

The new character is this sweet looking fairy person of sorts, who talks in a very disarming voice. But the twist is that she apparently enjoys causing people pain, or even worse.

Her voice is heard, after several people ruthlessly and suddenly meet their end at her hand...

(giggling, then in a sweet little girl voice)
Can't have slaughter without laughter!


When I again saw Apo's example in this thread, I was stunned! ;)

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