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Silly english question

  1. Oct 15, 2003 #1


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    Some things just don't come natural.. quit quite quiet.. why is tough not spelled tuff, like in stuff, how is tough different from though, thought, through, or touch?

    Gee, I didn't sleep at all yesterday, the touching thought milling through my head why I couldn't figure out how to spell tough, though I finally did.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2003 #2
    It's to do with the origins of the words. 'Tough' is a word with origins in Old English, derived from the word toh (should be a bar above the o, not sure how to do this). 'Stuff' on the other hand is from the Old French 'estoffe', which has the meaning 'to equip'. 'Stuff' doesn't appear in the English language up until the period of Middle English. I guess nobody bothered to standardise the spelling to the pronounciation.
  4. Oct 15, 2003 #3


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    Hough oughten oughsetting it is tough knough tough much.

    1. ough as in bough
    2. ough as in cough
    3. ough as in hiccough (old spelling of hiccup)
    4. ough as in through
    5. ough as in though
  5. Oct 15, 2003 #4


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    Well, thank you for that nice explanation :)

    It is just extremely annatural: tough, tuff, stuff. I say: let's change it!

    This reminds me of a joke: the new Euro language, not long ago it was not sure whether German or English would become the future European first language.. well:

    The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

    In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

    There will be growing publik emthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

    In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

    Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

    By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by z" and "w" by v

    During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

    After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

    Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

    You have to know how German if spoken in order for this to be funny :)
  6. Oct 15, 2003 #5


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    Why English is tough

    1. 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?
  7. Oct 15, 2003 #6


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    English is really crazy

    There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

    And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? One index, two indices? Is cheese the plural of choose?

    If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

    In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital?

    Ship by truck, and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

    When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on.

    When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

    btw, I don't know who originally wrote this stuff, but it came from http://www.ahajokes.com/ethnic_jokes.html
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2003
  8. Oct 15, 2003 #7
    I don't find English difficult at all, in my opinion German and French are a LOT more difficult.
  9. Oct 15, 2003 #8


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    That is mostly since all (80% or so) of our television is in english, right, Astrophysics? :P

    0% french
    and maybe 0.01% german, depending if you every go there..

    But I have to agree, french and german have a lot of hard grammer, eine, einem, einer, eines..

    But I still wholehardedly believe tough should be spelled tuff.
  10. Oct 15, 2003 #9


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    There used to be a lot of people for spelling reform, probably because George Bernard Shaw whas an enthusiast for it. The real problem is that almost everyone who has spent years learning English spelling has a vested interest in keeping it. If I had to struggle with it, why should these kids today get off scot fre?
  11. Oct 15, 2003 #10


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    Have you ever wondered why we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?
  12. Oct 16, 2003 #11
    regarding GB Shaw and spelling:

    'GHOTI' is pronounced 'fish'.


    GH as in tough,
    O as in women,
    TI as in nation.
  13. Oct 16, 2003 #12
    What makes English so difficult to learn is that words from many different languages have been incorporated into it. If I remember correctly, English is a German language with a French overlay and French is a Latin language with a German overlay. English is a bastardized language with a word for just about everything.....that's what makes it such a wonderful language.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2003
  14. Oct 16, 2003 #13
    Everthing was fine. Then the Romans invaded England, which is where the Latin roots and grammatical constructions got in. Then the Saxons invaded which is where the Germanic elements came in. French came from the times French was the Lingua Franca of Europe (get it?) and never went deep into English.

    In Russian zoob means tooth. I took Russian for two years and it is an extremely difficult language. German and French are much easier.

  15. Oct 16, 2003 #14
    English is much easier than German, French and Chinese, last ones are much easier than Russian. But English is most useful for managing and mutual understanding, Russian is most useful for expression of emotions.
  16. Oct 16, 2003 #15
    This is true. It did not become possible to express emotions in English untill the invention of the smiley face :wink:
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