The Unknown Rules of the English Language

April 17, 2012, Reading Horizons

The Unknown Rules of the English Language

“No. Crème brûlée can never be Jell-O. YOU could never be Jell-O!” As Julia Roberts perfectly explains to Cameron Diaz in My Best Friends Wedding. Sometimes people want things to be different than they really are, but despite these good intentions, sometimes you just have to accept that crème brûlée will never be Jell-O.

So… I have a really silly pet peeve. And it has to do with something trying to be Jell-O when it clearly isn’t Jell-O. I hate when people say that “ghoti” can be pronounced “fish.” It drives me crazy. Because… it can’t. I’m pretty sure it’s just suppose to be a riddle-ish kind of joke, but I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s annoying… just like I find riddles to be annoying. Because: “Ghoti” could never be pronounced “fish!” Sure, the people who say this is so have this grand explanation:

  • “gh” as in enough
  • “o” as in women
  • “ti” as in nation

But what these people fail to acknowledge is that those sounds only make those sounds based on the surrounding sounds and their position in those words. The proof is in the following bit of pudding (or should I say, Jell-O?):

decoding strategies poster


To learn more of the unknown rules of English, use Reading Horizons Online Reading Workshop:


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