Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Part 2: The Silliness of English

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with "quick"?

Disclaimer: I cannot take credit for either Part 1 or Part 2 of "The Silliness of English". I rather suspect they were written by a frustrated high school English teacher.

14 comments:

  1. So, I'm just sitting at my computer smiling. It's crazy, this language of ours. Somehow we make it work. It's a lot of fun reading all of our language "exceptions" in one go though. Thanks!

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  2. Hi Helen .. it's that conglomerate mix - that makes us English and our language English .. but contaminated along the way over the centuries and then came those colonies - who decided not to speak like the English, nor use our terminology!!??

    It's a fun language .. but thank goodness I am English and don't have to learn it.

    Great lists you've got here .. fun read - thank you .. Hilary

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  3. Beautiful examples! I would hate to learn English as a second language.

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  4. Hilarious, Helen. Thanks for making me smile today. I've been kinda down in the dumps.
    Karen

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  5. So, that's why I flunked English in HS, eh?

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  6. I love when you post these! What a hoot! (but not the owl sort of hoot)

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  7. Haha, loved this post! Cleverness abounds. Now I want to go read a dictionary. I've heard that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, so glad I was born to it so I don't have to learn it LOL.

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  8. There are some funny and odd things about English, for instance that the spelling of many words appears to be miles away from pronounciation. Englsih is my 2nd language (as you probably notice), but I always found it easy to learn. The grammar is simple and straight forward compared to other languages I've tried to learn, such as:
    German: I studied it for 5 years in jr. and sr. high. Complicated grammar. I can still understand and speak quite som German, but I simplify the cases, and only use nominativ and genetiv.
    French: Tried to learn it in university. Lots of redundant letters and insane grammar. A useless language.
    Russian: Extremely complicated. I gave it up immediately, but I know the Cyrillic alphabet, so I can read signs with streetnames etc.

    Cold As Heaven

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  9. Cold as Heaven, it sounds like you know enough about a lot of languages to get yourself arrested in many countries.

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  10. Haha. Once I got fined on the metro in Praha for not buying an extra ticket for my backpack. The only place a police man has pointed his gun at me was in the US, but my accent got me out of the problem >:D

    Cold As Heaven

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  11. I think you need to go back and see if you can repeat all of that out loud without becoming tongue tied!

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  12. Love this! :)

    Our language must be so difficult for people to learn - there are so many odd twists and turns.

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  13. Alex, I can become tongue tied just saying hello.

    I agree with you, Jemi. I'm glad it's not my second language.

    Cold As Heaven, an accent can get you out of a lot of things.

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  14. If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

    I'd like this on a t-shirt! :)

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