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July 12, 2013

Sower Or Sewer?

English has all kinds of confusing words and word histories. The other day I was riding my bicycle and I noticed...

...a manhole cover with the word 'sewer' on it.

It's obvious enough that this was an opening to an underground pipe that carries sewage; but why don't we use the word 'sewer' to describe someone who sews, just as we use the word 'baker' to describe someone who bakes?

We would pronounce that word 'sow-er', but we already have the word 'sower' - and it means 'someone who sows' - not someone who sews (and for those of you who don't know, in spite of having different spellings, these two words are pronounced the same).

And then there is the word 'sow' (pronounced 'cow') which refers to pigs.

This overlap of words, spellings and pronunciations might be inevitable with a language with only 26 letters.

All I can say is, tread carefully through this language, and be sure to send me any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let me know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.


Also: for the first time in several years, Morf is available this August (and possibly even for a new full-time position) to visit your school or program, or even host or be a guest on your radio program. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. As you can probably guess, Morf can talk or teach about just about anything related to language learning, linguistics and cultural changes.

For those of you with an interest in mottoes or mission statements, you might consider this motto centered essay contest;


Deadline September 15, 2013. So, what’s your motto in life? If you were to choose three words to sum up your motto, what would they be? In an essay outlining your philosophy on life, share with us your thoughts and insights. Contest open to all writers worldwide.

Essay word count must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words. Essays must be submitted through the essay contest page- http://fountainmagazine.com/essaycontest.
1st Place - $1,500
2nd Place - $750
3rd Place - $300
Two Honorable Mentions - $200 each

And if you have an idea for a sports related story to tell, you might consider this...

BREAKAWAY BOOKS - http://breakawaybooks.com/submissions/submissions.html.

Breakaway Books publishes literary and thoughtful writing on sports —fiction, poetry, and essays on the athletic experience. We are interested in the emotional and metaphysical side of sports, the inner life of the athlete. We also celebrate the many ways sport can serve as muse for excellent writing — both serious and playful.
We also have a separate list of boat building and boating books, with a soft spot for small craft, mostly paddle and sail.

Posted by mmorf at July 12, 2013 09:45 PM


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