Witch word is which: An over complication of the English language

Published 7:01 am Saturday, May 9, 2020

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Humanity has come a long way since we lit that first bonfire.

We’ve built civilization as we know it, created technological advancements and perfected yelling at each other through the safety of Facebook.

And yet the English language is stupid. You heard … er, read me. Stupid.

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It’s overly complicated, filled with illogical words like vacuum. Who decided that there needs to be two “u”s in vacuum? Is one “u” not enough to convey the raw strength of a cleaning implement? Vacuum is such that we need double the “u.”

Mostly this argument over the merits of our current structured aspect of the language is the overcomplication it’s inherited down through the years as new rules are constantly added to further confuse simple people like myself.

It’s simple that really gets people through life, so why create more headaches. An overcomplication of anything becomes an irritating bump along the road of life while riding a bike with no seat.

All of this has risen from the very legitimate question of “why do we have homophones?”

As we all should know if we had paid the appropriate amount of attention in early English classes, homophones are words that are pronounced the same, but with different spellings and meanings.

I had to LOOK that up just to remember what the proper term was. As a journalist I probably should not admit that, but here I am, admitting that I forgot what the name for words like “air” and “heir” is.

That’s where this confusion starts, compounded by the idea that homophones are a type of homonym and wouldn’t you know it, are spelled similar enough to be confused because how many actually think of homophones and homonyms and the concept of such each day?

I’ve been doing this job for awhile, but I still take far too much time staring at “bare,” “bear.” Not because I don’t know the meanings of either … I do … but because I have those hiccup moments in life where even though you are using the right word, you stare (or stair … this is stupid) at it knowing or thinking something is wrong and thus, you begin second-guessing yourself.

We’ve all done that. You type a word like that idiotic “hair” for instance, but something feels off. So you try typing it again and somewhere in your jumbled mind you know that it’s spelled correctly, but at the same time the part of your mind that seems to have control is screaming at you it’s wrong until you go to the internet and type it out … only to find that it’s a HOMOPHONE! Now you’re confused by the idea that your hare line is receding and somehow the hairs are getting into your garden and eating your vegetables.

And it’s only the word “hare” and “hair,” but still you wasted a good chunk of time that wasn’t needed for this exercise just to tie you in knots over a four-letter word.

Granted it’s a funny mental picture that a toupee is eating your vegetables, but regardless your somewhat confused over a word or words you’ve spelled several times before.

I just have to wonder when we became lazy? Are you telling me that somebody far smarter than I am who excels in this couldn’t figure out a different word for “prey” so it doesn’t collide with “pray?”

We couldn’t find alternatives so we don’t have to confuse “toe” and “tow”?

Are we that unimaginative?

I have no doubt there will be some, or most of you, that will be confused by this entire concept, but I assure you I am not the only won … one.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe this is too small of a thing and maybe my bar is too hi. High I mean … of course.

I mean, we did manage to get by the whole “f” for “s” thing that was all the rage in the 1700s and before. That’s a step in the write direc…right direction.

There’s probably a pretty good chance that I’ve just wasted your entire day … wait, is that write?