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Phun Stough


Through Prufrock's Page, a link to this delightful article where Ralph Berry muses on why English pronunciation and spelling hate each other so much.

I once saw the great Laurence Olivier play Malvolio in Twelfth Night. I had to pay a vast sum for a seat in the front row, so I gazed up at the actor a couple of yards away. In the Garden scene, Malvolio has to say “Cast thy humble slough” (that is, abandon your lowly demeanour, as a snake sloughs off its skin). Olivier's eyes roamed around the audience, and settled on me. “Cast thy humble, er, sleouwgh? [slight pause] sluff?” The audience of 1,500 exploded in laughter as one.

Malvolio didn't know.

And neither did I.

And I wasn't alone.