Be glad you learned English
when you were young! 

To Whom it May Concern:
Perhaps you can explain how we know to pronounce home with a long "o" and some with a soft "o". What rule of English tells us that lead should rhyme with reed instead of red when, in fact it rhymes with both?  Winds may blow or be the resetting of a watch but I don't know which.  Can you explain how, (which rhymes with now but not tow)?  What about sow (pig) and sow (spread seed), bow (bend at the waist) and bow (hair ornament)?  Is there a shortage of words that we have to use some two or three times over?  (I hate to subject you to this subject but as long as you don't object I will continue attacking the object of my scorn.)
Why doesn't lone rhyme with none, lose with hose, sew with few, cinder with binder, finger with ginger, wander with gander, touch with pouch, horse with worse, mother with bother and father with gather?
What rule of English enables us to determine that does means more than one female deer as opposed to the past tense of do?  No, not dew or due, DO!  Which, by the way, does not rhyme with no, so, or go but does rhyme with to.  However, put two do's together and you get dodo, as in extinct bird, or, dodo, as in the product processed by our Sewer Department.
Can an English professor explain to me why, if I add a "d" to river I get driver?  Now if I take away the "r" I get diver, which doesn't rhyme at all with river!  Speaking of earth, why does it rhyme with mirth instead of hearth?  This language sleighs me.  Or did I mean slays me?  (That might depend on if I were lying in the middle of snowy road.) Oh, yes, and where becomes here by dropping the "w", but neither rhyme with were, gained by dropping the "h".
This English language tears me up inside and brings tears to my eyes.  For instance, take the word "lumber" and add a "p".  You get plumber.  The "b" sound disappeared!  But if you place an "s" in front of lumber the "b" returns.  Now we are all familiar with the word number.  But I meant the greater degree of lost sensation (i.e., numb, number and numbest)?  Somber and bomber are further examples of this eerie situation in which certain letters, "b" in this case, seem to know when and when not to assert themselves.  (Did you notice the "k" in know knew to be silent?) 
Consider the following sentence.  "As though things weren't tough enough, I looked through the window and thought I saw a bough fall into the trough."  How did all those "ough's" know what sound to make? There's something spooky here.  But I'm not yet done (which rhymes with dun) picking this bone (which does not rhyme with bun). The combination, "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways.  The following sentence contains all of them: "A rough-coated, dough-faced thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

- by John Elliott

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