Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Tough Enough (Though More Than I Thought)

Though I’ve been through it often enough (cough, cough) that I ought to know, still this sentence surprises me. 

 

Do you get it? Or do you need more incentive, like giving you water in a drought or offering you some dough hanging from a bough? It’s a tough puzzle. 

 

This came to mind when my 5-year-old grandson Malik was reading Harold and the Purple Crayon to me and almost effortless negotiated his way through a maze of words that he never should have been able to read. And yet he did. 

 

Short Proud Pop-Pop moment: Malik turned five this summer and started to work his way through the Bob books, the beginning readers along the order of “Bob sees Ted. Ted sees Bob.” He went from Book 1 to Book 12 and each victory was given the attention of 4thof July fireworks. When we re-united in December, he had reluctantly edged into the second series of Bob books.

 

Then three weeks ago, in a hotel in Ashland, he opened a drawer and pulled out the Holy Bibble (his pronunciation) and started reading from Genesis. But I mean actually reading it! During his week-long visit, he astounded us reading fluently through 4th and 5th grade level books and understanding what he was reading. And fiercely plowing straight ahead without stopping to sound things out in sentences like “fiercely plowing straight ahead without stopping to sound things out.” How could this be? And two weeks after that, here he is again reading some of the words in the opening sentence with no explanation whatsoever as to how they work and why they shouldn’t work except that English is one strange and difficult language!

 

So in case you missed it, here’s the opening two paragraphs again with a hint:

 

“Though I’ve been through it often enough (cough, cough) that I ought to know, still this sentence surprises me. 

 

Do you get it? Or do you need more incentive, like giving you water in a drought or offering you some dough hanging from a bough? It’s a tough puzzle.”

 

Whose idea was it to give the same 4 letters some 5 or 6 completely different pronunciations? And exactly why is English the new universal language?

 

  

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