Mother-tongue "traps"

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Arrius

Senior Member
English, UK
Yes, the Americans coined flammable for items that ignite and burn easily, lest, as Brioche says, the prefix in inflammable which the neologism was to replace might be taken to be a negative as in inoperable or inadmissible. (The opposite is non-flammable). Such a step was quite advisable as such items tend to travel anywhere in the world and one cannot expect foreign or even anglophone stevedores unloading cargo to have much appreciation of the multi-purpose prefix in-. There are normally pictures of flames as well to aid comprehension.
 
  • Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    I haven't got time to read through more than 60 or so posts on this thread, but I'd just like to put in my two cents on the issue of "herb" vs. "herb"...ahem.

    I think it's clearly an AE vs. BE thing. I've been all around the country and lived in many different places, and the only place I could honestly ever imagine anyone saying "herbs" with the H pronounced is Boston and north along the Atlantic. Beyond that, not pronouncing the H is practically ingrained into every American child's mind when he says "herbs" with the H and some adult says, "No, you're wrong."

    One thing that always got to me was the spelling of the word "people." I used to think (until I was about 13) that it was "pepole" and until I was about 16 I had to write it down as pepole and then realize it was wrong and change it to people. Incidentally, a peepole is not something I'd like to be around.

    Another thing that always used to get me was the use of the pluperfect with regard to the verb to have. "I had had six dogs before ever losing one to death." To be honest, I think the form is useless as it is and I always was really excited to find a printing error in books (though I suppose it should have occured to me that the only doubles ever happened with the word "had").
     

    ernest_

    Senior Member
    Catalan, Spain
    I used to say "crucifixar" instead of the correct "crucificar" (to crucify). It was a mistake but it had some logic: cruci (cross) + fixar (to stick) = crucifixar (to stick to the cross).
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Yes, the Americans coined flammable for items that ignite and burn easily.
    What do you base this on? Poking around a few sources all indications I can find is that both inflammable and flammable have always existed.

    By the way - to try to tie this to the original question, I guess the "trap" here is false, or popular, etymology (giving the "in" of "inflammable" a meaning it never had)?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Actually, answering own question, Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage
    supports the idea that "flammable" is newer than "inflammable", albeit based on Latin of course, although it doesn't say where it was coined.
     

    alexacohen

    Banned
    Spanish. Spain
    I'll be going back to bed now...

    (I would have said "I'm going to go lay down", but I am incapable of remembering how to use the verbs "to lay" and "to lie" correctly, so I simply avoid them altogether - I can't be alone on that one... Or am I?).
    No, I mix them up too. But, well, I can always lie about being laid ...:D

    Alexa
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Inflammable "able to be set alight" is from 1605 (Online Etymological Dictionary)

    Flammable is of relatively recent origin. However, it has in many contexts (especially safety) taken the place of the older Inflammable, which some people may take to mean its exact opposite (Wikipedia)
    There is more enlightening information iin the second article but I believe I have reached the permitted limit.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Actually, answering own question, Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage
    supports the idea that "flammable" is newer than "inflammable", albeit based on Latin of course, although it doesn't say where it was coined.
    Inflammable dates from 1605.

    Apparently "flammable" dates from 1813.
    http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxflamma.html

    Click on the link and read about "flammable" in the US and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
     

    Voxy

    Senior Member
    Deutschland, deutsch
    From BE point of view -

    Not homonyms if "row" means "argue", are if it means "line".
    ...
    Just to get it straight, does that mean, that one and the same word
    can sound differently, depending what its meaning is actually?

    All in all i am very glad, that i am not the only one, who has some
    *issues* with the English pronunciation (rules). :D
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Just to get it straight, does that mean, that one and the same word
    can sound differently, depending what its meaning is actually?
    Yes, I'm afraid so.:D I think they're known as homographs. I'm sure there are other common examples - but I can't think of any off hand.
     

    tanager

    Senior Member
    US/English
    Yes, I'm afraid so.:D I think they're known as homographs. I'm sure there are other common examples - but I can't think of any off hand.
    There's "lower" with the ordinary meaning compared with "lower" pronounced "lour" (and sometimes spelled that way) which means something like to become gloomy and threatening, as in a "lowering sky".

    Oh, and of course, there's "lead" the verb vs. "lead" the element...
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Just to get it straight, does that mean, that one and the same word
    can sound differently, depending what its meaning is actually?

    All in all i am very glad, that i am not the only one, who has some
    *issues* with the English pronunciation (rules). :D

    This does seem to fall into the "mother tongue traps" subject, doesn't it? :)

    These words are called heteronyms, a subset of homographs that change meaning based on pronunciation. Here's a great site for more examples:

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cellis/heteronym.html

    These words trip up students in English all the time, mother tongue or not.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    This does seem to fall into the "mother tongue traps" subject, doesn't it? :)

    These words are called heteronyms, a subset of homographs that change meaning based on pronunciation. Here's a great site for more examples:

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cellis/heteronym.html

    These words trip up students in English all the time, mother tongue or not.
    Yikes, I never knew there was a name for these pesky words. I was shocked at how many there are. :)
     

    Angel.Aura

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Per un sacco di tempo ho pensato che si dicesse "nunziale" anzi che nuziale (anello nunziale, torta nunziale, etc. etc.). Poi, ad un certo punto ho fatto caso a quello che mi pareva un refuso di stampa, per scoprire che in realtà l'errore lo commettevo proprio io...
    Sapete che è un errore piuttosto comune? Provate a dare uno sguardo su google!

    For a long time I thought that "nunziale" was correct, until I read what it looked to me as a typo (nuziale) and I eventually found out that I was the one to blame...
    Do you know that it's a common mistake? Try to type the right (nuziale) and the wrong (nunziale) word on google!
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Per un sacco di tempo ho pensato che si dicesse "nunziale" anzi che nuziale (anello nunziale, torta nunziale, etc. etc.). Poi, ad un certo punto ho fatto caso a quello che mi pareva un refuso di stampa, per scoprire che in realtà l'errore lo commettevo proprio io... (Angel.Aura)

    It appears that you are accusing yourself unjustly: according to our on-site dictionaries both forms are correct. I suppose the second N of nunziale (nuptial/wedding) was difficult to pronounce in that position and so was sometimes dropped, thus creating the alternative form nuziale.
     

    la_vagancia

    New Member
    U.S., English
    As far as Herb vs, Erb... I believe in the U.S. we say Erb, but there are people with the name Herb, pronounced with the "h", that may confuse some. I know alot of my pronunciations are incorrect, my vocabulary is strongly influenced by my father, who was southern born and raised, but I believe my worst mistake is saying boLth, and also spelling it the same way up until the 8th grade when a teacher noticed after having marked it wrong on several papers. Oops. A question, does anyone else ever say 'trill'? I use it as in when people roll rr's as in 'carro' in Spanish, I say they 'trill it out' and sometimes I have used it to describe a person's or bird's singing. I have only heard one other person ever use it to my memory but used it long before I ever met them. I just looked it up, and apparently it is a real word but not in common usage????
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Welcome to the fora, la vagancia !

    You really did use to say bolth with an L, presumably instead of both? I quite believe you, but it is a strange lapsus linguae or slip, because I think most people would find it almost impossible to say the word that way since it requires much oral gymnastics to do so. A German would have the kind of L necessary to perform this feat but not the /th/, of course.
    Trill, to warble and quaver, is known to all in England and in common use, and the term trilled R is used by those involved with linguistics to indicate the vibrated R of Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Southern French, and Scots dialect.
    "Och mon, have ye niveRRRR biin te EdinbuRRRah?" The word derives from the Italian trilliare or trigliare with the same meaning but obviously of onomatopoeic origin (which refers to words like thud ping crash, based on the sound of the noise they describe).
    Like yourself, I too wrote at school phrases from my own (London) dialect such as "and we didn't half have a good time" (pronounced "an' we di'n' ahf 'av a good tah-im") = and we had a very good time, which were much disapproved of by my teachers. My dad normally said serstificate for certificate, which I at first imitated, and I had an uncle with a more extreme version of the dialect who spoke of p'lice ossifers and (I kid you not) even 'orses' piddle for "hospital" without any wish to make a joke, both of which variants I refrained from imitating.;)
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    :warn:
    I now leave you with a quotation from Eddie Izzard's "Dressed to Kill", in regards to the "herb" conundrum. I think it quite addresses the pronunciation of it.

    "[...] In Britain we pronounce it hûrb because it has a f#%&ing h in it."

    Succinct, the man.
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    :warn:
    I now leave you with a quotation from Eddie Izzard's "Dressed to Kill", in regards to the "herb" conundrum. I think it quite addresses the pronunciation of it.

    "[...] In Britain we pronounce it hûrb because it has a f#%&ing h in it."

    Succinct, the man.
    I prefer the "h" myself. "Erbs" sounds like there's something missing.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    In London the name Herbert amputated at both ends to become 'erb, is used to indicate young ruffians, but older than what was once known as street arabs, who loiter in the streets, probably up to no good:
    "There was a gang of 'erbs waitin' ahtside to do me over, so I staiyed indoors". I wonder if His Holiness will mention this matter in his next address urbi et orbi.
     

    la_vagancia

    New Member
    U.S., English
    Welcome to the fora, la vagancia !

    You really did use to say bolth with an L, presumably instead of both? I quite believe you, but it is a strange lapsus linguae or slip, because I think most people would find it almost impossible to say the word that way since it requires much oral gymnastics to do so. A German would have the kind of L necessary to perform this feat but not the /th/, of course.
    Trill, to warble and quaver, is known to all in England and in common use, and the term trilled R is used by those involved with linguistics to indicate the vibrated R of Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Southern French, and Scots dialect.
    "Och mon, have ye niveRRRR biin te EdinbuRRRah?" The word derives from the Italian trilliare or trigliare with the same meaning but obviously of onomatopoeic origin (which refers to words like thud ping crash, based on the sound of the noise they describe).



    I still do say bolth, it's one of those idiosyncrasies that I've been unable to change, although I do spell it correctly now, I only notice my pronunciation of the word if it is brought to my attention. So 'trill' is used in everyday language by other people? That's nice to know. I've had to explain what I mean by that so many times that I was beginning to wonder. Thanks!
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I prefer the "h" myself. "Erbs" sounds like there's something missing.
    But it doesn't sound like there's something missing in "honor"? ;) It's a funny thing, this "feeling right" or "feeling wrong." I completely empathize. I believe it's really a sort of validation that our brain does by comparing the sound to the way we've heard it thousands of times before. If it doesn't match it just feels wrong.
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    But it doesn't sound like there's something missing in "honor"? ;) It's a funny thing, this "feeling right" or "feeling wrong." I completely empathize. I believe it's really a sort of validation that our brain does by comparing the sound to the way we've heard it thousands of times before. If it doesn't match it just feels wrong.
    I can agree with that. The same thing happens with the letter "z" pronounced as "zee." I hate it when people say "zee," but that may be you tend to hear "zed" here - even in the media - rather than "zee."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I still do say bolth, it's one of those idiosyncrasies that I've been unable to change, although I do spell it correctly now, I only notice my pronunciation of the word if it is brought to my attention. So 'trill' is used in everyday language by other people? That's nice to know. I've had to explain what I mean by that so many times that I was beginning to wonder. Thanks!
    As for "bolth", you're absolutely not alone! There's even an ongoing academic discussion about the possible theoretical causes of this pronunciation - google "bolth" and you'll find it:)

    Loob
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I can agree with that. The same thing happens with the letter "z" pronounced as "zee." I hate it when people say "zee," but that may be you tend to hear "zed" here - even in the media - rather than "zee."
    Ah that reminds me of another mother-tongue "trap" - regional pronunciation. For a long time I wondered what "la zed boy" chairs were all about! (spelt la-z boy, but apparently pronounced "lazy boy" in America!):) This also explained the various "e zed" items around (easy...whatever).
     

    lizzeymac

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Ah that reminds me of another mother-tongue "trap" - regional pronunciation. For a long time I wondered what "la zed boy" chairs were all about! (spelt la-z boy, but apparently pronounced "lazy boy" in America!):) This also explained the various "e zed" items around (easy...whatever).
    The name is pronounced "lazy boy" because the chair was created in Michigan in 1930s. I don't think they considered the zee / zed issue. Is it really advertised as La Zed Boy? I think that sounds much more interesting.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    The name is pronounced "lazy boy" because the chair was created in Michigan in 1930s. I don't think they considered the zee / zed issue. Is it really advertised as La Zed Boy? I think that sounds much more interesting.
    No, no!:) I think you're missing the point - I read "la z boy" and wondered "why on earth are they naming a chair "la zed boy"?". Same with "EZ computers" - "why would they name their shop "ee zed computers?"":)
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I wonder where the inhabitants of the United States (for the Canadians as often use the British name) got the name zee from for the letter Z.

    "Zed: c.1400, from M.Fr. zede, from L.L. zeta, from Gk. zeta, from Heb. zayin, letter name, lit. "weapon;" so called in allusion to the shape of this letter in ancient Hebrew. U.S. pronunciation zee is first attested 1677. Other dialectal names for the letter are izzard, ezod, uzzard and zod." (Online Etymological Dictionary).My italics and bold letters.

    Strong local influences were Spanish which has zeta (/theta/ or /seta/) , French which has zet with an atypically pronounced T, and German Zet (/tset/), so they are not responsible. That it is a borrowing from (New) Zealand or a noise indicating irritation made by chimpanzees are theories also to be discounted (bad joke):eek:. The name would appear to have emerged quite late presumably among the semi-literate - not that there was any shame in being so in those days.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I wonder where the inhabitants of the United States (for the Canadians as often use the British name) got the name zee from for the letter Z.

    "Zed: c.1400, from M.Fr. zede, from L.L. zeta, from Gk. zeta, from Heb. zayin, letter name, lit. "weapon;" so called in allusion to the shape of this letter in ancient Hebrew. U.S. pronunciation zee is first attested 1677. Other dialectal names for the letter are izzard, ezod, uzzard and zod." (Online Etymological Dictionary).My italics and bold letters.

    Strong local influences were Spanish which has zeta (/theta/ or /seta/) , French which has zet with an atypically pronounced T, and German Zet (/tset/), so they are not responsible. That it is a borrowing from (New) Zealand or a noise indicating irritation made by chimpanzees are theories also to be discounted (bad joke):eek:. The name would appear to have emerged quite late presumably among the semi-literate - not that there was any shame in being so in those days.
    By analogy with most other letters in the alphabet (bee see dee etc) would be my guess - especially since it is a relatively little used letter ("irregular" language items, such as verbs, are often the most common also - the irregularities of the little used ones being more easily forgotten).
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Strong local influences were Spanish which has zeta (/theta/ or /seta/) , French which has zet with an atypically pronounced T [...]
    Isn't the French name of this letter zède? Or was zète an older pronunciation?
     

    Angel.Aura

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Per un sacco di tempo ho pensato che si dicesse "nunziale" anzi che nuziale (anello nunziale, torta nunziale, etc. etc.). Poi, ad un certo punto ho fatto caso a quello che mi pareva un refuso di stampa, per scoprire che in realtà l'errore lo commettevo proprio io... (Angel.Aura)

    It appears that you are accusing yourself unjustly: according to our on-site dictionaries both forms are correct. I suppose the second N of nunziale (nuptial/wedding) was difficult to pronounce in that position and so was sometimes dropped, thus creating the alternative form nuziale.
    You know Arrius, if you enter the word nunziale on many online italian dictionaries (Garzanti, DeMauro, etc.), no match will be found. :(
    I guess I have to PM some of the Forum Moderators and ask them to fix the whole thing. Or maybe I'm just accusing them unjustly... :D
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Isn't the French name of this letter zède? Or was zète an older pronunciation?

    Right again Outsider: your first version zède looks right, but I have never seen it in print and it is difficult to locate in dictionaries. My main point was that in French the name of the letter Z is not zee and ends with a dental consonant. We have in recent years often seen how the Americans write the name of the letter W (for obvious reasons) but I really don't know how to write this in BE where it is pronounced differently.
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    AmE (and CaE to a degree) went through a major spelling reform at some point. Perhaps that has something to do with why Americans prefer "zee" over "zed."
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    AmE (and CaE to a degree) went through a major spelling reform at some point. Perhaps that has something to do with why Americans prefer "zee" over "zed."
    How would spelling reform change pronunciation? Spelling reform aims to get spelling closer to pronunciation - you seem to be suggesting that people were saying "zed" but that the spelling was changed to "zee" and this affected the pronunciation accordingly? Sounds extremely unlikely to me.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Probably not the spelling reform itself, but the reform may have been part of a more general movement aimed at distancing American English from British English, or at "rationalizing" it.
    I'm only guessing here...
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    How would spelling reform change pronunciation? Spelling reform aims to get spelling closer to pronunciation - you seem to be suggesting that people were saying "zed" but that the spelling was changed to "zee" and this affected the pronunciation accordingly? Sounds extremely unlikely to me.
    Maybe, maybe not. But doesn't it strike you as at least somewhat illogical that only one letter ends with "ed"?

    I did not even know that "zed" existed until reading here. I never bothered to learn to pronounce the German alphabet either! :)
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    How would spelling reform change pronunciation? Spelling reform aims to get spelling closer to pronunciation - you seem to be suggesting that people were saying "zed" but that the spelling was changed to "zee" and this affected the pronunciation accordingly? Sounds extremely unlikely to me.
    Maybe I didn't explain myself well. Zed and zee both appear in the dictionary as accepted spellings depicting the pronunciation of the letter "z." Perhaps there was a debate to start pronouncing it as "zee" because it fit the pattern of other letters in the alphabet (bee, cee, dee), and it somehow caught on in the U.S., where it would be eventually added to dictionaries.

    Just an unsupported thesis.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    My questions, which may belong in a new thread, would be these:

    1) Why was "zed" changed to "zee" in AE?
    2) When did it happen?
    3) Who was behind the change?

    I searched for answers, but so far I have been unsuccessful.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you to all for your fascinating responses to my original post - all the best to you!

    Loob
     

    lacallada

    New Member
    United States (English & Minnesotan)
    As regards the silent H in herb(s), I am quite sure I have heard well-spoken Americans say the word in that way, which struck me because the H is always pronounced in Britain (unless you're a Cockney). In the original French the H here is regarded as an H mute not an aspìrated H, that is to say they say l'herbe (grass) unlike le hublot (porthole) where the H is said to be aspirated, although in practice you never hear an aspirated H unless the speaker is rather pedantic and then only before an A. So the American pronunciation with no H is closer to the original than the British.[/quote]

    Hello!

    I was once asked by a very gracious woman from the Phillippines whether or not I would like a lovely cup of "hairball" tea. :) Thinking that there was, perhaps, something about her native culture's tea-drinking habits that I really did not want to learn first-hand, I politely declined her offer. It was mere seconds later that I figured out what she meant and quickly told her that I had changed my mind and would love a cup.

    I've heard "herbal" pronounced both with a silent H and with it aspirated in the U.S., although mostly with the silent H around these parts.

    La Callada
     

    Mrs JJJ

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (British)
    My grandfather worked on farms, but was a keen reader. Throughout his life, her pronounced "compromise" as com-PROM-iss. (as in "promise"). Apparently, that's quite a common error.

    Like many here, I read a lot as a child and I later discovered that I was wrong about a lot of words. I remember feeling humilated when a younger friend corrected my mispronunciation of "oasis". (I said "OH-a-siss.) When I was about fourteen, I was in an English literature lesson and, as usual, we each had to take a turn at reading aloud from the set book. As one girl was reading, everyone started laughing, but I had no idea why. Then I found out that she had pronounced the name Penelope just as I would have done - PEN-e-loap. I was SO relieved that it hadn't been my turn to read!

    In a class lower down the school, when it was my turn to read (something that made me very anxious) the teacher interrupted me and asked my friend Diana to read. I was surprised, but fell silent, until the teacher explained, and I found that what she'd actually done was correct my mispronunciation of "mariner" as "mar-EEN-er."
     

    Mrs JJJ

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (British)
    In an early post in this thread, Ernest, from Barcelona wrote:

    In Catalan there's a problem which is that the feminine article "la" may be confused with the masculine article abbreviated ("l") when the noun begins with "a". So:

    la moto (the motorcycle), and
    l'amoto

    sound exactly the same.
    Toddlers have a similar problem in English, in distinguishing between (a + consonant) and (an + vowel). When our godson was learning to talk, he was sometimes given a choice of breakfast foods, and he would often opt for "negg" . Since then, my husband and I have frequently referred to eggs as "neggs". :)
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    This occurs naturally in spoken English, it’s sometimes called rebracketing. I use it when teaching English to train learners’ ears to the sound of a new language.
    How A Napron Became An Apron
    An important point to remember when thinking about these changes is that when many of them happened—in the Middle Ages—most people didn’t read. Instead of seeing the words written on the page, they only heard words spoken. People couldn’t see how the words were supposed to be divided, which made it much easier for mishearings to propagate.
    This being a language forum perhaps the thread title could be amended to include [rebracketing/mishearing] in spoken (mother tongue) language.
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In Russian your main problem when you read rare (or probably even not so rare) words is their stress. That's how I've got my "severnéye" [~sʲvʲɪr'nʲe.ɪ] ("farther north", literally "norther") instead of the normal "séverneye" [~'sʲevʲɪr'nʲɪ.ɪ], apparently by the analogy with "yuzhnéye" ("farther south") which also loses the stress on the root.

    Another issue is the softening vs. the non-softening "e" in loanwords. I am still used to [sʲɛks] instead of the much more common [sɛks] (well, in unstressed positions that "e" does usually become softening! And [sɛks] sounds too dull, in my opinion :D ).

    But in general the relationships between the spelling and the pronunciation are too obvious in Russian to create any serious traps in reading.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    I have an example in French, at least in familiar speech in Québec :

    L'évier (kitchen sink) becomes le lévier.

    I also heard : la queduc instead of l'aqueduc.

    Some of these "rebracketings" belong to the history of the language : l'hierre (old french) is now le lierre (from latin hedera), la bandon is now l'abandon (hence English abandon), etc.
     

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    My grandfather worked on farms, but was a keen reader. Throughout his life, her pronounced "compromise" as com-PROM-iss. (as in "promise"). Apparently, that's quite a common error.

    Like many here, I read a lot as a child and I later discovered that I was wrong about a lot of words. I remember feeling humilated when a younger friend corrected my mispronunciation of "oasis". (I said "OH-a-siss.) When I was about fourteen, I was in an English literature lesson and, as usual, we each had to take a turn at reading aloud from the set book. As one girl was reading, everyone started laughing, but I had no idea why. Then I found out that she had pronounced the name Penelope just as I would have done - PEN-e-loap. I was SO relieved that it hadn't been my turn to read!

    In a class lower down the school, when it was my turn to read (something that made me very anxious) the teacher interrupted me and asked my friend Diana to read. I was surprised, but fell silent, until the teacher explained, and I found that what she'd actually done was correct my mispronunciation of "mariner" as "mar-EEN-er."
    Imagine the difficulty for foreign learners! The English orthography is a very poor reference as to pronounciation. French is easier: though there are many ways to write some sounds, decoding the written form is generally simple.
     
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