Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why English is such a difficult language

Susan at Patchwork Reflections sent me an email about why English is such a difficult language.  I edited the list and added to it, so here's something for you to think about.

Some words and concepts are very illogical.
  • A house burns up as it burns down.
  • You fill in a form by filling it out.
  • An alarm goes off by going on.
  • There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger.
  • There are neither apples nor pines in pineapples.
  • English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France.
  • Quicksand works slowly.
  • Sweetmeats are candies, but sweetbreads (which aren't sweet) are meat.
  • Boxing rings are square.
  • 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 and two geese, but the plural of moose is not meese.
  • 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, is that last thing an odd, or an end?
  • If we say teachers taught yesterday, why don't we say preachers praught on Sunday?
  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
  • If olive oil is made from olives, what is baby oil made from?
  • Why do we recite at a play and play at a recital?
  • Why do we ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
  • Why do we park in a driveway, but drive on a parkway?
  • Why do we 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?
  • When the stars are out, they are visible; but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
Some words are spelled the same, but don't sound alike (or sound alike though spelled differently).
1)  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
2)  The farm was used to produce produce.
3)  The bandage was wound around the wound.
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)  They 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?
We have to marvel at the unique lunacy of our language.  Because English was invented by people and not by computers, it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, is not a race at all).

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