This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Nuts and Bolts: shh!

File:Northern Goshawk ad M2.jpg
photo by Norbert Kenntner

The basic idea with English is that the spelling of a word tells you how to say it. It would more or less work, too, if the language hadn't accumulated a lot of baggage along the way.

Some problems have been caused by letters for which printers don't have type, or which just look a bit odd (the z in Dalziel and the g in night aren't really supposed to be z or g, you know).

Then there are the problems caused by extra letters scholars have bunged in just to show how good their Latin was, like the b in debt.

But still, there are some bits of English you can rely on. Like sh being pronounced, well, sh. Like an s, but with a bit more breath to it.

Sheep, shuttle, bush, mash, perishing, bushy.

See? Simple, or what?

Mishap, goshawk, mishear, dishearten, dishabille, dishonest, mishandle, mishit...


Ah well. 

Looking at that list, even this isn't necessarily always a bad thing, is it?

Word To Use Today: one where a sh isn't pronounced sh. Most of these are words with bits shoved on the front to make them mean more or less the opposite (as in honest and dishonest) but goshawk comes from the Old English gōshafoc, goose hawk.

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