'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
ENGLISH ‘U-G-H’ MUST GOUGH
America has a strange relationship with England. They have given us Shakespeare, Dickens, Julie Andrews, The Beatles, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. In return, we have given them dental hygiene and Madonna, both of which they resent deeply and ignore as much as possible.
However, there is one thing the English have given us that we simply do not need, and should return to them right away: a proliferation of unnecessary Us, Gs, and Hs. (These letters cause me to exclaim, “Ugh!” one of the few words, by the way, that properly uses the letters U, G, and H.)
There’s a town in Massachusetts called Marlborough. Because they insist on using the British spelling with the useless “-ugh” at the end, the exit signs on the Mass Pike are larger and more expensive than necessary. On the other hand, the cigarette maker by the same name, Marlboro, doesn’t waste our time with a silly “-ugh,” mostly because they need those letters for one of the primary results of using their product: cough. (Which should be spelled, “coff.”)
There are many other words that employ these irrelevant letters: though, through, thought, thorough, thoroughly, although, tough, rough, enough, borough, bough, dough, doughnut, draught, and ought. Well, I say enough is enough! (Actually, what I really want to say is, “enuff is enuff!”)
It’s bad enuff these words waste our time and effort, causing average people to type thousands of extra letters on their computer keyboards throughout the year. (I mean “thruout” the year.) Just think of how many extra doughnuts (I mean “donuts”) we could enjoy during the business day if we didn’t have to type so many extraneous letters.
Even worse is the fact that these words are almost impossible to read aloud without making a mistake. Trust me, I know. Recently I had to recite from the 23rd Psalm at a religious event. And because I thought “through” was “though,” I thoroughly bungled the reading.
As soon as I realized I had just proclaimed, “Yea, thru I walk tho’ the valley of the shadow of death,” I felt like I was in the valley of the shadow of death—or at least the valley of the shadow of incompetent public speaking.
I also learned the hard way that there is no such word as althrough.
If Homer Simpson can use, “D’oh,” why must we use “dough”? If we get milk from a “cow,” why is a branch a “bough”?
If we own “stuff” and sit on our “duff,” why are other words spelled “rough” and “tough”? I suspect if we were instead “ruff” and “tuff,” we would be more “buff” and take less “guff.”
The donut that is dunkin’ is skyrocketing in sales, while the other doughnut—the one that doesn’t even know how to spell the words crispy or cream—is in a financial free-fall. Not a coincidence, I do believe.
You don’t hear rap artists say, “Hey yough, hast thou seen my hough?” Instead, they get right to the point: “Hey yo, seen my ho?” We can learn something from our musical friends in the ghettough. We should communicate more succinctly and directly, and get rid of all these irrelevant letters. I suggest we load up a cargo ship with all of our useless Us, Gs, and Hs, and then dump them into the English Channel.
We have successfully turned the English plough into an American plow. We can legally order a draft instead of a draught (as long as we’re 21 years old). We surely can do the same with these other annoying words. Let us begin right nough.
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