... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

547: I can do an English speaks

Question, quest, quench, quorn, quesadilla, queue, quibble, 
quince, quiche, quick, quickest, quickie, 
quack, quid, quidditch, quite, quiet.

Qi, Qabalah, faqir, Qatar, qat.

Key, Kabalah, faker, cutter, Kat.


I wonder if we can get rid of the u that nearly always follows the q in standard English words. It seems like a redundancy to me. By that I mean that Qu contains no more information than q. Observe: A q on its own, as when saying the alphabet, is pronounced kyew, like the first sound in cute. Qu is usually pronounced kw, as in queen or consequences. But sometimes Qu is pronounced as kyew, as in queue or quay. Admittedly I don't have a qlue what I'm talking about, but the more I think about it qu and q seem redundant.

The English language is a bizarre and beautiful beast, and its nuances and idiosyncrasies, so difficult to explain to non-native speakers, seem to be the result of accidents of history. Mixing the pronunciation from one region of Medieval England with the spelling from another when the movable type printing press became a thing. This leaves us with oddities such as "an hotel" which is a mixture of the apparently correct "a hotel" with the once correct pronunciation of "an 'otel" from the French dropped 'h' where the word comes from.

I can only assume now that the Q and the qu combo come from one of the invaders that have taken this land in the last thousand or so years. Why should queen not be spelt kween? Why should
not be anglicised as ki instead of qi, and why should قطر not be anglicised as Katar instead of Qatar. Is this simply to inform the reader that this is a foreign word, recently admitted to the language, like the Japanese habit of using a seperate syllable set, katakana, for non-native words. (Notice katakana, not qataqana.) Anyway, I thought that, in English, foreign words were usually indicated by using italics.

Clearly the English language is full of contradictions, redundancies, errors, mistakes, pointless rules and downright gibberish. Makes me wonder why it took so many hundreds of years for the Bible to be rendered in English; seems like they make obviously perfect bedfellows. But I digress. Again. Anyhoo... I started off thinking I'd solved some long problematic error in the English language. Turns out I'm an idiot. Interesting.

I wonder how many millions of years it would take to comprehensively document all the oddities of the English language. Just look at all the different pronunciations of gh: ghost, cough, enough, hiccough, laugh, daughter, bright, dough, through, and plough. Not to mention its unusual use for creating past tense verbs: caught, taught, bought, etc.

Exit, pursued by a bear.

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