Thayer Literary Services ~ Book Editing

English Is a Crazy Language

There are many different versions of English around the world, including British English, Scottish English, Irish English, American English, Canadian English, English of the Caribbean, English in Africa, English in Asia, Creoles and Pidgins, and Australian English.

 

Even though most Americans speak English, it is not the official language of the U.S., which classes itself as a “multilingual” nation.

 

The average English-speaking person uses the same 400 words 80 percent of the time. That means that more than 400,000 other words in most standard English Dictionaries often remain unused.

 

Although the English alphabet has only 26 letters, the English language has around 44 sounds. These 26 letters are used to represent the 44 sounds in more than 650 different ways.

 

Let's face it—English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger, and neither is there an apple or 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, two geese. So one moose, two meese? And why one index but two indices?

 

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? 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 don't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue.

 

Perhaps English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other 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? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

 

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

 

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or someone who was ruly or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, or picable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

 

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 clock goes off by going on.

 

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't 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, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

 

Did you know?

 

• In English, the most commonly used letter of the alphabet is e.

• The letter used most frequently at the end of words is also e.

• The letter used most frequently at the beginning of words is s.

• The most common pairing of letters in English words is er.

• The longest word in the English language is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is a medical condition caused by volcanic dust.

 

 

 

Why English Is So Hard to Learn

 

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present  the present.

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

After a number of injections, my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

 

Also, there is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger and 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.

 

If we explore oxymorons in English, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig. 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, two geese. So one moose, two meese? If teachers taught, why don’y preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats  vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

 

Furthermore, in English you can make amends but not one amend, and  you can comb through the annals of history but not a single annal. Also, if you have a  bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you  call it? In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Drive on a parkway and park in a driveway? Have noses that run and feet that smell? And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a  few are alike?

 

Not only that, but have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly, or peccable? And where are all those people who are spring chickens or who really would hurt a fly? 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, isn't a race at all). That’s why, when the stars are out, they’re visible, but when the lights are out, they’re invisible. And why, when you wind up your watch, you start it, but when you wind up an assignment, you end it.

 

 

 

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