Podcast „99% Invisible“: „Corpse, Corps, Horse and Worse“

Logo Podcast 99% Invisible „In 1920, a Dutch writer named Ger­ard Nolst Tren­ité pub­lished a poem in Eng­lish titled The Chaos, designed to draw atten­tion to Eng­lish spelling and pro­nun­ci­a­tion — and all the con­fu­sion its absur­di­ties have let loose upon the world. It begins “Dear­est crea­ture in cre­ation; Study­ing Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion; I will teach you in my verse; Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse” and ends: “Hic­cough has the sound of ‘cup’…. My advice is—give it up!”
The absur­di­ty of this poem works because, frankly, when it comes to Eng­lish spelling and pro­nun­ci­a­tion, there is plen­ty of rhyme and very lit­tle rea­son. But what is the rea­son for that? Why among all Euro­pean lan­guages is Eng­lish so unique­ly chaot­ic today?
To help us answer that ques­tion, we spoke with lin­guist and long­time friend of the show, Ari­ka Okrent, author of the new book High­ly Irreg­u­lar: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme and Oth­er Odd­i­ties of the Eng­lish Lan­guage. In it, Ari­ka explores the ori­gins of those pho­net­ic para­dox­es, and it turns out some of the rea­sons for con­fu­sion are as coun­ter­in­tu­itive as the words them­selves.“

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