Languages are complicated things, but the funny thing is that once we have mastered our native language, we tend to tell the complexity involved in the learning process utterly for granted. And yes, there are some funny quirks in learning languages, especially the English language. Some of the most subtle changes in the way a word is spelled, or even the inflection given to certain syllables when a word is spoken, can change the word’s meaning entirely. This can cause serious problems for people who are trying to master a second or third language, and some of the subtleties involved in certain word spellings can cause problems even for native speakers.
Words That Are Tricky
One of the classic areas of confusion for people who are learning English is the way in which certain words appear to be similar, yet are pronounced in very different ways. One major example of this is the word “through,” like “going through a tunnel.” This word rhymes with “threw,” as in, “he threw a ball,” yet “through” is not pronounced in the same way as “rough” which also rhymes with “tough.” Confused yet? Yes, we thought so.
Going beyond spelling, we also have words that take on very different meanings with the addition of one letter, like the word “Silicon,” as in “thin silicon wafers” (the kind used in creating a computer) as compared to “silicone” which is the rubbery plastic used in breast implants. Yes indeed, these are similar looking words that mean very different things.
Yes, language is tricky, and those people who become fluent in more than one language should be celebrated. Let’s face it, just mastering the fine points of one complex language, like English, is a great achievement in itself, and not just anyone can pull it off!