A language without logic

Club Contest Speech on 23rd Feb 2018, awarded first prize.

Title : A language without logic

Time : 5 – 7 Minutes


I visited California for the first time in the year 2003. My colleague picked me from the airport. While we were driving, I saw a city name on the board and I read it aloud “San Jose”. He burst into laughter and said, hey it’s “San Hose”.

I asked him back, then why do we say June & July instead of Hune and Huly?  He was speechless, he couldn’t answer my question.

If you are a native English speaker, you are fortunate. When you speak, you have no fear of being judged by other people. Do you know how it feels to pronounce words in another language and being judged? Let’s try a small experiment here. Listen and repeat after me. BHAVA, Bhava means feeling in Sanskrit language. Say it louder. Not the BA from BA BA Black sheep. Bhava originates from the pit of your stomach. Touch your navel, let me underline your navel! When you pronounce BHA you should feel the puff of air starting from your stomach and going out of your mouth.

Was it difficult? Yes, it is. I empathize with you. What if you had to touch your navel or some other part of your body for every word you speak? Right from my childhood I was puzzled by the weirdness of English language. PUT is pronounced as put and BUT as but. What’s the logic behind this?

The letter G retains its sound in GINGER and changes in SINGER & FINGER.

Why do we need 5 letters to spell the word QUEUE? A language without logic.

In most languages we read words as they are written. However, this logic doesn’t work in English language. We write a word in one way and pronounce it in a totally different way. That’s the enigma of English.

Lettuce : Lettuce, then why not write LETIS?

PIZZA: PitZa, where did the sound T come from? Back in India my uncle calls it PIJJA.

A friend of mine from Hungary struggles with the word Chicago, he calls it CHICAGO? I don’t blame him.

What about this French word, Rendezvous: RonDevU.

English language has freely imported words from many languages such as Latin, Greek, French & Italian. In many cases, retaining the actual pronunciation & spelling from the original language. English vocabulary is a collection of words from several disparate languages.

This means there is no logic in adding new words. Do you know the meaning of Triskaidekaphobia?

It’s a group of 4 Greek words. Tris, Kai , Deca & Phobia. It’s a fancy word for ‘Fear of number 13’. Really?

What’s so special about number 13? Why not have similar words for the fear of 14,15, 16 & so on?

There are about 1 million words in English vocabulary and we keep adding more every year. I wonder why?

Webster’s dictionary recently added a new word to their list, ‘FROYO’, can anyone guess the meaning of this word? FROZEN YOGURT. FROYO…

We should write a letter to Webster’s team to add another word called TOMA, a short word for Toastmasters.

I never paid attention to the nuances of pronunciation until I heard a memorable speech in India. The speech was about leadership skills. The speaker used the word quantum jump many times in his speech.   Due to his first language influence, in quantum he replaced the sound KWA with KA and the sound T with D. Every time he said quantum jump in his own style, the audience jumped up high on their seats and laughed. He was totally puzzled and his speech was totaled.

A motivational speech turned into a hilarious speech. What a disaster?

One pronunciation blunder, took away the thunder from his speech. That episode brought a quantum change my perspective. I started paying careful attention to my pronunciation.

Instead of focusing on the logic, I started focusing on the root of each word I used in my speeches. When I befriended the roots, I began to enjoy the fruits.


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