Why English is hard to learn

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
. The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7. Since there was no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10. I did not object to the object.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen on how to row.

13. They were too close to the door to close it.

14. The buck does funny things when does are present.

15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
 

Praxidike

Banned
Yeah, English can be a bit difficult sometimes..... but what's so difficult about learning how to use apostrophes? Really annoys me when I see them in random place's. Like that. ;)
 
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a
wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist
and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset
can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it
wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed
ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro
 

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
That was very good LGS - really enjoyed reading them as I live in Reading. :oops: there's another one!

My daughter is in year 3 at school and she has learned (or is it learnt?? lol) something similar - they were talking about words that sounds the same but are different :

where / wear / ware
their / there
know / no

it makes you realise that speaking a language and writing a language can be a challenge all it's own - even after you are fluent. Good thread!
 

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a
wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist
and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset
can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it
wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed
ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro
:rotfl: brilliant. Funnily enough, the only word I couldn't read amongst that was 'cheerio' at the end! Very, very good.
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
I read somewhere that there are 5 meanings for the word "fast".
Mind you, it could be worse, we might have to learn Welsh.
Now that's a frightening looking language :eek:
Then again, I believe they use their nouns and verbs the right way round, as opposed to us, who do it wrong, compared to most of the world.

I've always thought English must be hard to learn purely because of our accents.
As a Brummie, I have to hold my hands up and say there's been many a time I couldn't understand a Geordie or a Scotsman and have often wondered how an alien manages.
(no offence intended to anyone, I love English because of it's diversity :thumbsup: )
 

Siro

Novice Member
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a
wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist
and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset
can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it
wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed
ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro
Liked this also!:)

It's strange how the brain works. . .
 

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
Good point. It's always amazed me that even with the relatively small size of our country, we can have such diversified accents. Scotland, North East, Birmingham, London - blimey, look at Manchester / Sheffield / Liverpool - so close to each other but so different in the three accents.
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
I never even mentioned our black country friends. People literally 5 miles up the road and I really have to concentrate to understand them.
(It bugs me when people confuse the brummie and black country accents, they really are totally different).

I forgot to say, good post, LGS :thumbsup:
 

Pat_C

Novice Member
Here is another one. Not sure where it originated.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it?

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Wholly, holly; signal, signing;
Thames; examining, combining;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
From "desire": desirable - admirable from "admire";
Lumber, plumber; bier bur brier;
Chatham, brougham; renown but known,
Knowledge; done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rhime with "darky".
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Liberty, library; heave and heaven;
Rachel, ache, moustache; eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed;
People, leopard; towed but vowed
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches; wise, precise;
Chalice but police and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable;
Principle, disciple; label;

Petal, penal and canal;
Wait, surmise, plait, promise; pal.
Suit, suite, run, circuit, conduit
Rhime with "shirk it" and "beyond it",
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it 's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular; goal; iron;
Timber, climber; bullion, lion,
Worm and storm; chaise, chaos, chair;
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess.
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf; countenance; lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does 1). Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, Job, Blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, but unite.
Reefer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George; ate, late.
Hint, pint; senate but sedate;
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Tour, but our, and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas!
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess - it is not safe;
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf!
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and eyrie.

Face, but preface, but efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation - think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey;
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying groats?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying, lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough -
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup...
My advice is - give it up!
 

KeithO

Novice Member
I've always thought English must be hard to learn purely because of our accents.
As a Brummie, I have to hold my hands up and say there's been many a time I couldn't understand a Geordie or a Scotsman and have often wondered how an alien manages.
(no offence intended to anyone, I love English because of it's diversity :thumbsup: )
Believe me, other countries have just any many accents! I live near Munich in Germany, and down here they don't speak Hoch Deutsche (ie the German equivalent of the Queen's English) they speak Bayerisch (Bavarian). Most of the farmers around here can't even speak 'real' German and view it almost as a foreign language. But even Bayerisch apparently differs from village to village! The Germans here talk about Bayerisch, Schwäbisch, Fränkisch, Allgäuerisch...all different German dialects and accents if you know what you're listening for, just like Gerodie, Brummie, Scouse, etc.

I actually think English is easy to learn, but it's hard to master. There are no real hard and fast rules like there are in many other languages. That means you can start speaking English fairly easily, and be understood. But because there are not a lot of rules (and even those that do exist are frequently broken) English is very hard for a non-native to become truly profficient. Fluent yes, speak like a native, no.

Languages such as German as much harder to get to grips with initially, because they have so many rules you have to learn. Many people (especially native English speakers like myself!) struggle to get to grips with such a structured and rigid language. But once you learn the rules, it's easy to predict the 'behaviour' of certain words, even if you've never come across them before, because they almost invaiably obey the same rules. In English that's just not possible - you can't use your experience to predict how a new word should 'behave'.

The company I work for, despite being based in Germany, actually conducts all its business in English. We have (at last count) 45 nationalities working here, so there are (at least) 45 different flavours of English. You can imagine what the meetings are like! Now I understand what George Bernard Shaw meant when he said 'two nations divided by a common language' - except here it's 45 nations! ;)
 

Simian Sibling

Distinguished Member
Mind you, it could be worse, we might have to learn Welsh.
Probably a lot easier than you think. Considering they haven’t had a new word for years (they just use the English) I reckon you could pick it up in minutes :rotfl:
 

Ayub

Distinguished Member
Good point. It's always amazed me that even with the relatively small size of our country, we can have such diversified accents. Scotland, North East, Birmingham, London - blimey, look at Manchester / Sheffield / Liverpool - so close to each other but so different in the three accents.

Dont forget us Brafod lot!
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
Some good comments and quite interesting :smashin:
I heard that English is the second most difficult language to learn after Mandarin chinese, can anyone confirm that?

It's interesting that a German office comunicates in English.
Could you imagine an English office doing the opposite? I can't.
It's a shame that we don't do what the continentals do and learn a foreign language or three at a very early age, IMO.
Whenever I speak to foreigners in their own country, I often feel inferior, because they invariably speak excellent English.
Don't get me wrong, I can have a fair stab at French with enough Spanish and German to get me by (I can say "two beers" in loads of languages :rolleyes: ).
But it strikes me most Brits think they have a god-given right to be understood all around the world.
 

Ian J

Banned
It's always amazed me that even with the relatively small size of our country, we can have such diversified accents. Scotland, North East, Birmingham, London
When I moved to Tyneside everyone sounded like Jimmy Nail to me but after a few years living there I realised that not only were there many variations within the region but I could pin down the part of Tyneside that someone came from by their accent.
 

KeithO

Novice Member
It's interesting that a German office comunicates in English.
Could you imagine an English office doing the opposite? I can't.
We're a strange company! Actually we're not really a German company at all, more international, but the area of IT we're in is English-centric hence the business language is English. To confuse matters even more, we're just the Data Processing part of the company. Development is based near Nice in France and Head Office & Marketing are in Madrid! And all operate in English :confused:

But it can be quite embarrasing to sit in an office with say 7 Germans and know they're all speaking English just because I'm there! My German is OK, and getting better, but it's not up to deep technical discussions yet :rolleyes:
 
D

daz20

Guest
Some good comments and quite interesting :smashin:
I heard that English is the second most difficult language to learn after Mandarin chinese, can anyone confirm that?

It's interesting that a German office comunicates in English.
Could you imagine an English office doing the opposite? I can't.
It's a shame that we don't do what the continentals do and learn a foreign language or three at a very early age, IMO.
Whenever I speak to foreigners in their own country, I often feel inferior, because they invariably speak excellent English.
Don't get me wrong, I can have a fair stab at French with enough Spanish and German to get me by (I can say "two beers" in loads of languages :rolleyes: ).
But it strikes me most Brits think they have a god-given right to be understood all around the world.
The thing is that english is a universal language, so its something people want to learn. But what language are we supposed to learn.
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
The thing is that english is a universal language, so its something people want to learn. But what language are we supposed to learn.
It is a universal language, I agree, but I don't think it's the primary 1st language.
In that sense, I suppose Chinese or maybe one of the Indian languages.

Actually (and I'm probably picking flies) they don't learn English. They learn American English :(
 
D

daz20

Guest
It is a universal language, I agree, but I don't think it's the primary 1st language.
In that sense, I suppose Chinese or maybe one of the Indian languages.

Actually (and I'm probably picking flies) they don't learn English. They learn American English :(
I totally agree, the problem is that the universal language will be American English, with all their incorrect spellings of everything.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
As the unofficial universal language (in the sense of it being the most widely known first or second language); I disagree. English is easy to learn. Heck I didn't know a word until I started school in this country (cue embarrassing family stories from mum; didn't know a word of what teachers told me). I mean more in the sense pick up the language; not be an expert and know all the rules

I've yet to go to a continental or Scandinavian country were no knowledge of the native language and knowing only English, however, isn't good enough.

Asian languages are a whole different breed though. Symbols instead of letters and a far more complex phonology than the European languages imo
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
As the unofficial universal language (in the sense of it being the most widely known first or second language); I disagree. English is easy to learn.
Try telling that to the many millions who struggle to learn it.It might have been easy to learn for you just as Spanish was relatively easy for me, but for others, noooooooooo! Leave your arrogance at home will you
 

kevandalice

Active Member
Yeah, English can be a bit difficult sometimes..... but what's so difficult about learning how to use apostrophes? Really annoys me when I see them in random place's. Like that. ;)
tell me about it, a bloke in work uses one before the 's' in every plural!!!
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
Yeah, English can be a bit difficult sometimes..... but what's so difficult about learning how to use apostrophes? Really annoys me when I see them in random place's. Like that. ;)
why do some get worked up about fairly minor things?apostrophe?:confused: Bigbrother is on tonight!:thumbsup:
 

Similar threads

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar Review, Filmmaker Mode, Disney+ $30 for Mulan, AV news and more

Latest News

John Williams' iconic movie themes get Dolby Atmos treatment
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
NAD launches T 758 V3i surround sound receiver
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sky unveils next tranche of HDR content
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Acoustic Energy launches AE520 flagship speakers
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Disney drops all 20th Century Fox branding
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Top Bottom