I wrote recently about how the most simple, innocuous, 2-letter words can cause palpitations in non-English native speakers.

I was reminded of this recently when I was complaining to my son – who is a fluent Irish speaker, schooled through the Gaelic tongue – about how hard it is to pronounce Irish words.

‘It’s much harder than English,’ I said.

To which my son replied, ‘Oh yeah, Dad, like Rough, Cough, Dough and Plough…’ He has a fair point; 4 words spelled with the same last 3 letters, all pronounced differently – uff, off, oh and ow.

Rough indeed. Regardless of our native language, we take its idiosyncracies and querks for granted.

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