English is Crazy

Does the English language sometimes drive you nuts?  We have done some fascinating things with this language.  You really must be almost a native speaker to understand all the nuances of the language.  For example, I had a friend of mine from Chile who had trouble understanding the concept of “breaking wind.” 

The examples below might be even more subtle that that.  You can find the original here:

Crazy English

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

12. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

13. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

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

15. They were too close to the door to close it.

16. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

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

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

19. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

20. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

21. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
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 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, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? 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? 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). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.



8 responses to “English is Crazy

  1. If you really want a laugh from the good old English language misunderstood try http://www.Engrish.com It is positively hysterical.

    It’s a funny site. I like the signs.
    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. leavingevangeline

    So true! So funny! I’m sure everyone’s heard the question: Why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?

    A little off the subject…but sorta along the same lines: My friends and I always debate whether you say “turn the a/c up” or “turn the a/c down” to make it cooler in your home. Which is it?

    I’ve always turned it up to heat and down to cool (but, who am I to say?). George Carlin used to ask, “If you had 22 odds and ends on a table and 21 of them fell off, what would you have left? An odd or an end?”

  3. That was fun 🙂

    Just a little trip through my daily life. Thanks for making the trip.

  4. LOL this is so funny and true! 🙂 Love it!

    I seem to have a conversation about English daily. Thanks for joining in on the chat.

  5. I feel so sorry for anyone who’s trying to learn the English language. Its idiosyncrasies make it wonderful to write with, particularly poetry, but that’s just because poetry isn’t supposed to make sense. Then again are other languages, Chinese say, that much better? While Chinese makes a good deal more sense in the way its structured, three sentences might all translate into the same English sentence yet have distinctly different meanings.

    But wait, that’s another failing of English, not necessarily Chinese.

    Why are all nice mathematical languages dead?

    English, at least American English, borrows so heavily from other languages that it can be a challenge to pronounce words properly if you aren’t a native speaker (think about our Cal-ee-fornian governor, Ah-nold). Also, we tend to corrupt the language and make it almost impossible to spell some words.
    As a middle school teacher, I used to use Fry’s List of the most commonly used words to help my students. It begins with the most commonly used word and progresses through the next thousand or so. What I discovered is that the more often a word is used, the less likely it is to follow convention. However, if one can learn to read and spell the 100 most commonly used words, they will know about fifty percent of any book in English. The issue is the implied meaning behind the less commonly used words.
    I agree with your assessment. Let’s return to something classic… like Latin.

  6. Ahhhh, this is why I love it!

    When you say love, you mean…? (funny language, this English).

  7. I agree with a previous poster – I love the English language!!! I love it’s paradoxes and miscues! Give me this over a quadratic equation or a long-division problem any day! I am so NOT a math-brained individual!

    It’s a fun language. I’m not a mathematician either.

  8. Savannah Lashley

    this may not relate but when you peel a banana….what do you say when you put the peel back up?? repeel, unpeel??

    I don’t know, but I have always found bananas appealing…

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