Friday, December 18, 2009
Language Quiz Answers
Once again, we consulted a language expert for our replies to Ana's questions.
1. As for ginger/finger/singer, English spellling versus pronunciation is an old, old problem. It started about the time printing did, in the late 1400s. Printing tended to fix the spelling and pronunciation of the time, even though the spoken language has been changing ever since. For the most part, spelling changes have lagged behind, because they've been printed. Thus, for example, we need the "silent e" simply to signal the difference in the vowels in words like "sit" and "site," or "bat" and "bate." That's all the "silent e" does--denote a different preceding vowel.
With "ginger," "finger," and "singer," we don't have enough symbols in the written language to properly render the way the words are said. The International Phonetic Alphabet has the symbols, but few people know those. So we simply have to learn to pronounce the words correctly despite their spelling.
2. Ajo is "garlic." Oja is "leaf." Ojo is "eye."
3. English has more than ten vowels. The number depends on the dialect of English.
4. The English verb has two tenses. That's correct: two.
Any questions? Comments?