Charming 102-Year-Old Typographist Explains Why English Makes Absolutely No Sense

Edward Rondthaler, who died in 2009 at 104 years old, spent his life trying to tame 26 ruffians — the letters of the alphabet.

Rondthaler, a famous typographist, wanted English to adopt phonetic spelling, or the spelling of words exactly as they sound. As chairman of the American Literacy Council, he had some pull — but apparently not enough to change the way we spell English during his long life.

Some people consider English one of the most difficult languages to learn. But Rondthaler argued that writing English phonetically would promote literacy and increase foreigners’ access to dense literature, like John Keat’s “Ode to a Nightingale” (or rather, “Oed to a Nietingael”), according to his New York Times obituary.

Even if the thought of phonetic spelling makes you cringe, we can all agree our language contains some idiosyncrasies. Check out these GIFs of Rondthaler, at 102, explaining the most egregious examples.

First of all, “bomb” doesn’t rhyme with “tomb.”

And “tomb” doesn’t rhyme with “comb.” At this point, by switching just three letters (“c,” “t,” and “b”), Rondthaler changed the vowel sound three times.

Logically, we should spell “home” as “homb” because of “comb.” We don’t.

We change the “b” to an “e.”

And then “home” doesn’t rhyme with “some.”

Following that, we should spell “numb” as “nome” because of “some.” Nope.

Instead, we change two letters — the “o” to a “u” and the “e” to a “b.”

As another example of English’s confusing sounds, consider the word “ghoti,” which could technically spell “fish.” Use the “gh” sound in “tough,” the “o” sound from “women,” and the “ti” sound from “nation” — and you get the word fish from “ghoti.”

Watch Rondthaler’s full video here:

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