Friday, May 19, 2006

Linguistic Loopiness

A bit of research I was doing at work caused me to peruse the Guardian Unlimited website. Not being a Guardian reader (I take The Times at home and read someone else's Sun at work.... ok, so you don't exactly read the Sun....) I was pleasantly surprised. I especially like the Comment Is Free.... section. One piece deals with the notion of Britishness (my opinions on which I'll leave for another time). Amongst the comments was this by someone called GwashaBaby:

AS A FOREIGNER WHO IS FLUENT IN ENGLISH, BELOW IS ONE OF THE REASONS I LOVE ALL THINGS BRITISH...........................................

If you've learned to speak fluent English, you must be a genius! This little treatise on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. Peruse at your leisure, English lovers........................................................

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) 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?

AND FINALLY.....................

There is no egg in eggplant or 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?

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? 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?

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.

The beauty and strength of the English language is that it's constantly evolving, absorbing words from other cultures, changing the meanings of ones it already has and discarding ones it no longer has any use for. Contrast this with the attitude of the French, who are very protective of their language, and are making a concerted effort to preserve it against change. Whether that's the right path, only time will tell....

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow i never really thought abot how hard it is to learn the english language i guess when u have grown up talking like that u dont notice untill some one points it out.

Aeowolf said...

especially, anonymous, when people don't check their spelling and mix in text language..... :)

piper hunter(anonymous) said...

i guess im just bad at spelling and typing mabye i should start talking in a different language.....:)

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of that feisty little mink Gwashababy. Any luck with her posting those photos : )

Aeowolf said...

what photos? are you sure you posted to the right place?

Aeowolf said...

Ahhh, I understand now, anon. Those remarks were made on a different article which I only read today.... and no, I don;t know it she's posted the photos, but if you got back to her posts she put her email address in one of them, so you could ask her direct....