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  • Consider the following sentence.

  • The same letter combination ough appears repeatedly throughout the sentence, but the sounds are different every time.

  • Though I coughed roughly and hiccuped throughout the lecture, I still thought I could plow through the rest of it.

  • This incredible inconsistency can make English really to master for non-native speakers.

  • But what if English were phonetically consistent?

  • Let's consider the letter A.

  • The letter A can represent a number of different sounds.

  • Even ignoring its combined sounds like "ar" or "aw," you can get such diverse sounds as "father," "ape," and "apple."

  • Let's take the first of these: "ah" as in "father."

  • Now, "A" is not alone in having different options for how it can be pronounced.

  • Let's consider the vowel "E".

  • Neglecting combination sounds like "er," we can still produce some strange, different pronunciations such as: "rewrite," "elk," and "one."

  • Let's take the first of these again: "E" as in rewrite.

  • Of course, this means that silent Es at the end of words will now also be vocalized.

  • Moving on, let's consider the vowel "I."

  • Ignoring combination sounds like "ir" or "ing," this vowel can produce sounds: "like," "igloo," and "deviate."

  • Again, taking the first of these, we'll pronounce "I" as in "like."

  • Let's now turn our attention to the vowel "O."

  • Without combination sounds, we can still get a few options: "pony," "on," and "one."

  • Let's the select the first one of these: O as in "pony."

  • Having now made these selections, we are left with only one vowel "u."

  • The vowel "U" can sound like this: "rule," "run," and "put".

  • While I will again remind the listener that this is somewhat arbitrary,

  • we will select the first of these: "oo" as in "rule."

  • Putting all these together, we can hear how English would sound if it were consistent in the pronunciation of vowels.

  • Let's consider a passage from a Shakespearian Soliloquy.

  • To be or not to be, that is the question:

  • Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

  • The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

  • Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

  • And by opposing, end them. To die: to sleep;

  • No more; and by a sleep to say we end

  • The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

  • That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

  • Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

  • To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

  • For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

  • When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

  • Must give us pause: there's the respect

  • That makes calamity of so long life;

  • Thank you for listening.

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Consider the following sentence.

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