Tue, 26 Oct 2021
[ Content warning: pointless. ]
A colleague of mine recently remarked:
The parallel construction suggests that the two cases are similar. They're not. The words lose and choose are unique exceptions, and loose and goose aren't. All the -oose words other than choose rhyme with loose goose moose, and all the -ose words other than lose (and sometimes close) rhyme with rose nose pose.
English spelling is full of awful quagmires, but I don't remember noticing this one before. “-ough” gets talked up a lot, it's overplayed. This Goose thing is at least as bad.
For example, consider these rhyming words:
What a mess.
Shoes and woes don't rhyme.
Shoes rhymes with lose, but lose does not rhyme with close.
Close does rhyme with woes, and it also rhymes with gross, but they don't rhyme with each other. I suppose it is excusable that gross doesn't rhyme with woes, but it also doesn't rhyme with boss. And gross rhymes with dose for some reason. You'd think dose would rhyme with hose but if you want it to do that you have to spell it doze. Which at least makes sense: dose, unvoiced, doze, voiced. There are seven ways to write that -oze sound in doze, and the only words that I can find that actually spell it -oze are doze and froze:
The most common ending here is -ows and looking at a word that has it you can't tell if it's crows shows slows or brows cows vows. Sometimes it's both, like with sows sows bows bows rows rows.
Oh, and does, which you see there in column 3 with toes and goes, but which is also an extremely common word that is usually pronounced “duz”, completely unlike any other word spelled that way. When it obviously should have been pronounced the way dues is.
Going the other way we have goose and loose which seems okay at first but turns into its own little quagmire:
At least you can't get these words mixed up with other words spelled the same way. Except for use and use. The consonant is voiced when it's a verb, unvoiced when it's a noun. Because reasons.
Well, for completeness I suppose I should do use:
Brits might want me to put news here and maybe some of its siblings.
Ugh, this could go on forever. Half the -ouse words rhyme with mouse and the other half rhyme with rouse. And the most important one rhymes with both: house.
Hmm, there's that verb-voiced, noun-unvoiced thing again. I should look into that. The close thing is similar: voiced is a verb, unvoiced is an adjective.
My respect for people who learn English as a second language was already high, but it has just gone up several notches.