New answers tagged language
If he is smart enough to enjoy "why", then a really good approach I'd recommend would be to go through the various invasions of England (Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Jutes etc) and tie the various words back to language. Once you know the source, you can make very good guesses as to the rules for words you don't know.
First, English is weird. From talking to a few people I know who had to learn English as a second language, it's pretty hard, especially compared to some others for the reasons your son has identified. Pronunciation rules aren't consistent. Spelling isn't consistent. Other languages (like Spanish, for instance) have well-defined rules about how spelling ...
I would keep it simple and accurate: first of all 1) the language we use wasn't designed, nobody sat down and invented it, and 2) it's a hodge-podge/mongrel/mixture from a lot of different sources (other languages) over a lot of different time periods, thousands of years. If you need an illustration, you might locate some examples of "Olde Englishe" before ...
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