From time to time, some English word will suddenly, out of the blue, strike me as weird.
Today, I’ve been pondering the word one.
Are there any other words in English — perhaps, if I were speaking, I should say “any wother“? — in which an initial “o” is pronounced as if it were a “w“?
“I wonly have eyes for you.”
“This is a golden wopportunity.”
“Shakespeare’s tragedy Wothello. Or was it really written by the Earl of Woxford?”
The possibilities are endless.
And if you add a “t” to one, you get tone. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Rhymes with sewn. And, of course, with loan. And blown. But if you remove the “bl-” from blown, you get own. Then take the “t” from tone and add it to own, and you get . . . town.
Seriously. English has to be one — won? — of the most bizarre of all alphabetically-written languages in terms of its worthography. I marvel that anybody — including native speakers — ever learns to spell English words correctly.
Do they even have “spelling bees” in Germany, Austria, Spain, or Italy? I honestly — note the silent “h“! — don’t know. Surely, I imagine, they don’t need to spend as much time on spelling as English-speaking schoolchildren do. Instead, they can use that time to learn mathematics and other languages — subjects in which, by the way, les Américains pretty consistently rank at or near the bottom of the international heap.
Postscript: Just for the record, so that you know that this post doesn’t come from personal bitterness, I don’t believe that I ever failed to take first place in a spelling bee. If I did, I don’t remember it. I was, and am, a good speller. But it seems rather a silly skill to have to master.