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Why in English language we write something and read something else.

In my mother tongue Malayalam and National Language Hindi , we read what we write as such.

But that is not the case of English.

Like

Titanic - to me Titanik seems more apt than Titanic

Kat seems more apt than cat.

Why English is so much confusing. it is taking me forever to learn the pronunciation.

closed as too broad by user3169, Glorfindel, LMS, shin, Chenmunka Dec 16 '16 at 18:05

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    Because that's the way we do it. And you won't get a better explanation than that. – Robusto Dec 16 '16 at 4:31
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    Short answer: Because a first-century Roman rhetorician named Quintilian hated the letter K. – dan04 Dec 16 '16 at 5:39
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    You think it would be better to use Titanik? You'll be hard pressed to find many other English words that end with -ik – there are very few – but plenty that end with -ic (in fact, there are thousands of those). It's not just about the phonetics and sounds, but combinations that have etymological roots. It's tricky, but not quite as random as it many seem. – J.R. Dec 16 '16 at 10:36
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    It is a 20-years-old joke :) – Drossel Dec 16 '16 at 11:12
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    @ARUNEdathadan - English pronunciation and spelling are notoriously tricky, and just knowing the sounds of the letters is not enough. Consider comb, bomb, and tomb, which are all spelled very similarly but are pronounced differently. Or cough, although, and through. In ball and ballerina, the first syllable is spelled the same but pronounced differently. Why is hyperbole pronounced very differently from either hyperactive or bole? Et cetera. – stangdon Dec 16 '16 at 15:43
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In English, one letter may have many different pronunciations. If you hear a word, there is no way to know, just from the sound of the word, how to spell it. However, a written word will frequently have only one way you can say it. The words "goatee" and "ghoti" for instance would both be pronounced the same way, and even though "ghoti" is not actually a real English word, we know how it sounds just from how it is written. (see: http://zompist.com/spell.html for more details on this)

The ability to spell the same SOUND in many different ways is useful, because there are many words that sound the same, but have different meanings. "There" and "Their" is one famous example. Even though these sound exactly alike, it is useful to have different spellings for them, because the meaning is very different.

Spellings can also give you information about the "root" of the word, or its origin, or even its history. English borrows words from other languages very often, and we typically like to keep the original spelling from the original language, even though our spelling rules may be different. Over time, the way people say words can also change, but we usually keep the spelling the same. (For example, the word "Knight" used to be pronounced "Kh'ni'git", which is more or less how it is spelled, but when we changed how the word sounded, we did not change how to spell it)

Spelling can also inform you about the grammatical function of the word. To use your example, "Titanic", this word comes from the word "Titan" and the suffix "-ic", which makes the noun into an adjective. This "-ic" ending, however, can only be used with words that come from certain languages, specifically Latin or Greek. So by seeing that the word ends in "-ic", we know that the word comes from Latin or Greek, and is an adjective. Knowing that the word comes from Latin or Greek is important because the origin of the word tells us a lot about how formal the word is. For instance, Latin or Greek words are much more formal than German words.

Sometimes there is no real reason for one letter to be used over another, but once a letter was picked, it just stays that way forever.

  • I know it's an old joke, by G B Shaw, but it may be amusing to note that ghoti could be pronounced fish. gh = /f/ as in enough. o = /i/ as in women. ti= /sh/ as in nation – djna Dec 16 '16 at 11:12
  • What do you mean by "Kh'ni'git"? Knight was never pronounced with a hard G or with that epenthetic vowel. The historical pronunciation was /knɪxt/, [knɪçt], similar to the German cognate Knecht. – J. Siebeneichler Dec 16 '16 at 11:36
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    The "ghoti" thing is a pet peeve of mine. I get the joke, but gh- at the beginning of an English word is never pronounced f. (As zompist points out!) Consider ghoul, ghost, ghetto. – stangdon Dec 16 '16 at 15:46

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