[itle Newsletter] Vol. 27 - 6 Feb 2006

  • From: Linos Viglas <kvigklas@xxxxxx>
  • To: itle@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2006 02:06:50 +0200

English is a Crazy Language, author unknown

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 loose tooth, 2
leese teeth? One index, 2 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

If teachers taught, why didn't preacher praught? If a vegetarian
eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter,
perhaps you bote your tongue?

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 or a truck by
ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and
drive on parkways? Lift a thumb to thumb a lift? Table a plan in order to
plan a table?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and
wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites,
while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can a person be "pretty

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 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 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. Why is "crazy
man" an insult, while to insert a comma and say "crazy, man!" is a
compliment (as when applauding a jazz performance.)

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.

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  • » [itle Newsletter] Vol. 27 - 6 Feb 2006