An Italian in London: The Pitfalls of The English Language

By Costanza Pasqua

English can be a tricky language to study and to speak. Leaving out the complicated grammar that sometimes drives us completely crazy, struggling between past, future, present perfect continuous and many other things,

spelling and pronunciation are even more tricky than the grammar itself. Think about these five commonly confused words: though, thought, tough, through and thorough.

Really? I mean, they are spelled almost exactly the same, but you have to read them differently and they mean completely different things. How easy is it to get confused between though and tough?

You want to write “this is tough” and you end up writing though, which doesn’t make any sense.

It’s the same with ‘recommend’. Why does that word have two ‘ms’ and one ‘c’? When you pronounce it, it sounds like it should have two ‘cs’ and one ‘m’!

When I first moved to London, I thought Leicester Square was pronounced as it is written. Well, it’s not. It’s pronounced ‘Lester’. It took me a while to understand the English way of pronouncing things, which for an Italian who rolls the r, pronounces the h and much more, is quite hard.

The words tree and three for example were impossible to separate for me. I used to say “It’s three pounds” and everyone understood ‘tree’. So going out with me for the first months here in London was a constant laugh.

I have been living in London for three and a half years now. I thought I knew how to pronounce things, and I think I can speak decent English. Well. After calling the plumber, pronouncing the ‘b’, and making my friends and boyfriend laugh so hard they cried, I have decided I will pronounce everything as I want to.

I am sure people will understand. Somehow.

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