The Marvel & Muddle of the English Language

It is a wonder to me how the English language can be so beautiful and in turn, be so confusing!

Trying to explain to Younger Daughter how to pronounce words based on phonics principles have backfired numerous times (eg. though & bough, here & where). Or why words like “minute” and “windy” is pronounced differently given context. I also find myself saying: “Just memorise how to spell it, don’t bother sounding it out!”

Take the example of this week’s Daily Post’s Photo Challenge: Spare.  “Spare has many connotations: it can mean one too many, or sparse, or even to release something from harm.”  The first 2 meanings are almost contradictory – and so, the despair & the muddle that comes from learning the language.

A few days ago,  I saw these sculptures while on a run.  It occurred to me that the horses could illustrate each of the different meanings of Spare.  Hence, the beauty of the language, where a single word can illicit so many thoughts, ideas and convey a great depth of meaning; assuming that one can figure out the context the word is used.

Photo taken at Dempsey Hill: teak root horses & stone sculpture.


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