Why there are so many words looking similar to each other!

  • Thread starter Haorong Wu
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Today is the national entrance test for M.A M.S candidates in China. The writing part in the English test is about habit and I wrote habitat. Damn! Many people did not spell habit correctly as well. It really bothers me that there are so many words in English looking so similar. Just replace e with a or something else, the meaning is changed. I really feel bad about myself now. Hope I can get a nice score.
 

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  • #2
S.G. Janssens
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Don't feel bad about yourself. I'm quite sure that it would be the same (or worse) for native English (or Dutch, or...) speakers trying to learn Chinese. Great you took the English test.

(Put more technically, metrics such as the Levenshtein metric can be used to quantify the distance between words, but as you noted yourself, these are not always good metrics to quantify the distance between their semantics.)
 
  • #3
davenn
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It really bothers me that there are so many words in English looking so similar
Dont be bothered about it, just learn different spelling has different meaning

The real issue comes with words that are spelt the same way but pronounced differently to get a different meaning

look at these examples ......

double meaning words.jpg
 
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Redbelly98
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From what I have been told, different words in Chinese sound a lot alike. Just change which syllable you put the emphasis on, and it completely changes the meaning.
 
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  • #6
phinds
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Spelling is EVIL dag nabbit !

1577014769732.png
 
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  • #7
Vanadium 50
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This works both ways:
 
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Blame Samuel Johnson. He wrote the first widely accepted dictionary of English and when he was through (threw?) spelling became a memorizing game. Rough and tough, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Dictionary_of_the_English_Language

I don't see it mentioned, but Johnson was supposed to have Tourette's Syndrome. An a posteriori diagnosis.
https://www.webmd.com/brain/tourettes-syndrome#1
Johnson's Dictionary was published in 1755. By that time, most words in scholarly works in English were already conventionally spelled according to the orthography of the King James Bible, which had been published in 1611. Although Johnson was an authority for the spelling of non-biblical words, many of his spellings relied on those he found in the works of prominent writers of English literature.
 

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