Re: Fun: English spelling

From: Robert A. Rosenberg (
Date: Thu Jan 06 2000 - 14:29:05 EST

At 09:54 AM 01/06/2000 -0800, Hart, Edwin F. wrote:
>I just received this and thought in light of prior discussions to forward
>For or you English enthusiasts
> > Is it any wonder why non-native speakers of English have
> > trouble with pronunciation and/or meanings?
> >
> > We polish the Polish furniture.

Interestingly, Polish/polish is the only string I know of where
capitalizing the first letter in the string changes the pronunciation (and
meaning). All the other examples in your list (or in existence) are words
that are spelled the same but pronounced differently (based on which word
it represents) or are spelled differently but pronounced the same
(to/too/two, queue/cue/Q[q]).

> > He could lead if he would get the lead out.


Do you want to read the red covered book I read last night?

I remember a story that turned on this problem. A stolen Russian document
needed to be translated from one language to another and to keep the
contents of the document secret from the person doing the translation he
was given a word list and provided the English equivalents. Unfortunately,
the document was full of cases where the same string represented different
words at different times so the word list was of little use in reading it.
The problem was finally solved by getting someone with a high enough
security clearance who was able to read Russian (and had the technical
background to understand the document [so he know what word was being
used]) to do the translation.

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