Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why English is So Hard

Before I get to today's post - Check out this great award I received from N. R. Williams:

Isn't that the greatest face?

Okay - it's Friday.  And that means a fun - and usually borrowed - post.  This is from an e-mail that's been making the rounds forever.  Hopefully, it's one you haven't seen, or at least not for a while. 

And this is the tool of our trade?

Some reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) The two were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Scary, huh?  It gets worse.

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.

Quicksand works 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? If you have a bunch of  odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
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.

And why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"?


You know, it's amazing we can write at all.  Have a great weekend.

My current word count: 5023

I'm currently enjoying: Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Groaner of the Day:  I decided to go with a short one today but couldn't decide between these two.  Which one would you pick?

1 - Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here. I'll go on a head.'

2 - Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

16 comments:

Melanie said...

LOL!! I love this!! We did something similar in high school with an exchange student. It was a hoot!

Dru said...

It's mindboggling. This should be given to all students.

Love the groaner.

Liz Fichera said...

Great post - thanks for the chuckle. This is kind of how I felt when I studied French.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What fun examples of why English can cause such problems. I liked both the groaners, so I couldn’t pick just one.

Maria Zannini said...

English is my second language. Nobody knows these conundrums better than I do.

Aside from Chinese, English is one of the hardest languages to learn.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Melanie, it's an oldie but a goodie.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - I think some English teachers use a variation of this in their classes.

Re. the groaners - which of the two shorties would you have picked?

Linda Leszczuk said...

Liz, I remember taking French. It was pitiful. Guess I'm still struggling with English.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jane - re. the groaners...yup, that was my problem, which is why you got them both.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - It is amazing that so many people have English as a second language considering how difficult it is to learn. And don't get me started on Chinese. I only go to Chinese resturants where the items on the menu are numbered so I won't embarrass myself when ordering.

Karin said...

I am trying to learn Japanese along with my 2 year old granddaughter. So far she is leaps ahead of me! We go to a Japanese language "Mommy (in this case Grammy} and me" class. It is humbling to be the lowest in the class! But I really sympathize with English language learners--what a difficult language to learn!!!

Loved both groaners. Your posts always brighten my day

L. Diane Wolfe said...

And we wonder why our kids struggle to learn to read and write!

Arlee Bird said...

These are great examples that many of us no longer really think about. My wife speaks English as a second language and she will often come to me to explain word differences. I recall once when I was teasing her and told her she was "mean". She was confused because she always thought of "mean" in the context of defining words.

Fun post.

Lee
Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Linda Leszczuk said...

Karin - I can't even imagine learning Japanese. I've lived with you-know-who 41+ years and still can manage only a few phrases in Polish. Of course, half the words in Polish require sounds that feel like I'm coughing up a hair ball.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Diane - It is a bit mind boggling.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Lee - English is my hubby's second language (well, actually he spoke almost a dozen when he came to the states but that comes from being a kid in a refugee camps) but he started English young enough to deal with it like a native. His mom, on the other hand, always had difficulties with some of the quirks.