Tuesday, 24 June 2008

My foreigners' guide to the English language

1. English is a language governed by rules. You should never deviate from these rules, except when there are deviations from the rules.

2. There are many deviations from the rules.

3.The deviations are random. There are no rules governing these deviations. For instance, the letters "ough" can be pronounced in at least 7 ways:

-Greenhough (my English teacher's name. Typical.) = off

-though - oe

-thorough =uh

-ought =awe

-rough = uff

-bough = ow

-hiccough= up

How will you know when to use which pronunciation? You will not. As noted above, there are no rules governing these deviations.

4.Deviation from the rules is a rule of English.

5. When in doubt, insert the word cool, s%&t, F*$k or Like, and you will be fine.

6. I have not mentioned various dialects found across the world and within countries. Essentially these are languages in themselves, some have rules, others no discernable rules, and yet others made up entirely of deviations from the rules.

7. Good luck. To quote Eddie Izzard, creator of the English language (no, not really, too busy touching up his makeup): "That's the rules, that... I've just made up."


Mandrake said...

If i had the time i'd post some stories about the Pidgin english i learnt from my Nigerian friends. I've as a result become semi-fluent in the Nigerian dialect of the English language.

but alas, some green bottles await me at a fellow of a fellow office-member(member, don't misread).

Now off to find those bottles

po said...

Yeah, I too am fluent in a certain pidgin lingo, I worked for 8 months in a coffee shop in the UK, working only with Eastern Europeans and Spanish. By the end I could speak normal English no more. At my next job my German colleague had to correct me!

Louise said...

Tee-hee, as a sometime teacher of English to non-native speakers I often get asked, but what's the rule, what's the rule. When I say there is no rule I see a certain despairing look come across my students' faces...