Tuesday, July 30, 2013

English is so Hard!

I use to be a Bilingual teacher transitioning students from Spanish into English.  Spanish is such a lovely language with no silent letters and few exceptions to its rules.  English is not, it's a real bugger because it is made up of dozens of languages and we never stick to the rules we have as to spelling or pronunciation.
For Example:


We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.


If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?


Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!


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.
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?


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 folks who grew up speaking English 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?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And 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.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?
(Found on the internet long ago, I can't remember where)

 

And Then There's This:
REASONS WHY THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS HARD TO LEARN:
These are excerpts from various Richard Lederer articles and the anonymous poem, "The English Lesson." Similar lists circulating in e-mail exchanges and listservs with minor variations. This particular adaptation appeared on the ChaucerNet listserv. The earliest individual passing it along in that chain was Nicholas C. Burbules, Department of Educational Policy Studies University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, though he himself is not the compositor.
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?

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, isn't a race at all.
  

It's no wonder I took early retirement!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this - it does make me wonder how I ever managed to learn English as 2nd language :) And yet it is actually considered a rather easy language for foreigners to learn. But that's probably because at least the grammar is fairly simple even if spelling/ pronounciation may be problematic. You don't have to bother much about different genders and cases in English.

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  2. Yes I am glad I learned it as an infant :-)

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