You think English is easy?

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Ian

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May 4, 2005
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Adelaide, South Australia
(No, I didn't write this, but I think it is well done.)You Think English is Easy???
Read to the end...a new twist to an oldie !!!!
Can you read these right the first time?
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) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Note that point #9 isn't English. It's American. There is no verb - no tense - "dove" in English. It is "dived". "Dove" as a verb is one of the many Americanisms, and as such is dialect rather than language.


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? 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, 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.

PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "up."

It's easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up ? At a meeting, why does a topic come up ? Why do we speak up and why are the officers up for election and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report ?

We call up our friends. And we use it to brighten up a room, polish up the silver, we warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and some guys fix up the old car . At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed up is special .

And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up . We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed up about up ! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look the word up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost 1/4th of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions.
If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don't give up, you may wind up with a hundblue or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing up. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things up. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry up.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it up, for now my time is up, so........... Time to shut up .....!
 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
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Gosh Ian,  I'm afrfaid that may start  me to back talk myself.  Or, if I drank, the drinker I stand there the longer I'd get.
 

Betty Brewer

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Mar 10, 2005
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Ian,

Thank you for sharing.  Your illustrations show just how difficult it is to learn to speak  English, let alone spell correctly! 
I'd like to spend a minute up on my soapbox since the topic of English language difficulties is fresh on everyone's mind.

If you've ever read a newspaper accounting  of test scores among public school kids and made any kind of judgment  as to the  results, may I suggest you recall the aforementioned  article provided by Ian.  If the scores are low, it may not mean the teachers are terrible or that the parents have failed or that the child is  not very smart.  It could mean the child is learning English as his second language.  What's UP with that? I could be they just need more time to become proficient.

In my mind those who can learn two languages and become bilingual are the richer for the task.  To be bilingual may not show up in a standardized test score.  But I am retired now and step down off my  soap box to go fix dinner.  Thank you for allowing me to share.
Betty Brewer
 

Tom

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Betty Brewer said:
In my mind those who can learn two languages and become bilingual are the richer for the task.

Betty, that's been my soapbox for many years  :)
 

Shayne

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50 Plus years ago I tried a second language.  My problem is, in 72 years I haven't mastered English, or wouoldn't it be better to call it Stateside English.  From what I see, there's English and English in the UK  Totally different yet simular. 
The way I butcher this English, how could I ever carry on  a conversation in another.  Embarrassing to think about it.

(modified to remove extra blank lines)
 

Ian

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May 4, 2005
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Location
Adelaide, South Australia
Karl said:
You should'nt have any problem with the 'English' language spoken in the States - you've been standing on your head all your life! ;D
It has become a standing joke when talking with friends from the States for our Antipodean attitude to come up. I have been blamed for all sorts of things, from numbers being read backward to having to keep recovering the ceiling because of all the walking that is done across it. It would not be the first time that some bright spark has mentioned that we have to wear our shoes on our hands to prevent continuous callousses on the palms from al that walking upside down that we do.

Yes. It might come as a surprise to you and others of the Northern Hems but I have heard most of it, probably even participated in most of it just to keep the stories rolling. Like everybody else, I just love a good laugh.  ;)
 

King

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Jan 30, 2006
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MA
Missed "We drive on the parkway and park in the driveway"
 

Ian

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Adelaide, South Australia
Somebody directed me to a great poem, The Chaos" by G. Nolst Trenit?, discussing the perversity of English when a person speaking another language might try to pronounce it just from reading the word. I took Google to task so I could find out more about this author. Google gave me a great site that not only gave me a much fuller version of that poem  (all 274 lines), it was also able to give me the story about the author and how he came to write it.

http://www.spellingsociety.org/journals/j17/caos.php
"
The author of The Chaos was a Dutchman, the writer and traveller Dr Gerard Nolst Trenit?. Born in 1870, he studied classics, then law, then political science at the University of Utrecht, but without graduating (his Doctorate came later, in 1901). From 1894 he was for a while a private teacher in California, where he taught the sons of the Netherlands Consul-General. From 1901 to 1918 he worked as a schoolteacher in Haarlem, and published several schoolbooks in English and French, as well as a study of the Dutch constitution. From 1909 until his death in 1946 he wrote frequently for an Amsterdam weekly paper, with a linguistic column under the pseudonym Charivarius.
"

I won't share the poem here in its fullest, just recommend to the reader to follow the link for themselves. It is worthwhile.

Note also the home for the site, the Simplified Spelling Society.
They have provided an interesting document (in PDF format, v.small download), Why change English spelling?
"? A quarter of English-speaking children cannot read properly by age 11
? Around 7 million adults in the UK and 40 million in the US are functionally illiterate
? Nearly half of all English speakers have spelling problems
? Nearly all Italian children learn to read in couple of months and can write well after just 2 years at school"
 

K9Kampers

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May 17, 2006
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Being an Ex Pat from London, I really appreciated your piece, it certainly made me laugh out loud, or as we say in the UK, Brilliant!? We can say the same for the American language when we park in driveways and drive on parkways, and unlike Germany our Freeways are not free, they all have speed limits and not mention tolls. And, what happened to the spelling here, how did omelette become omelet, neighbour become neighbor, colour become color I could go on and on, I guess we just got lazy and did not want the extra letters.? Why do we look under the bonnet of a car when you look under the hood, when both could be worn on our heads. We put stuff in the boot and you put it in the trunk, the only time we put stuff in a trunk is to go on a cruise ship.? To add to your "up' piece why do we knock a woman up and get her pregnant and to knock a man up is to get him out of bed in the morning!  As they say, two countries separated by one language! I'll be cheering for England in the World Cup and no it is not soccer it is football.? Cheers Mates, Sue
 

Tom

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K9Kampers said:
As they say, two countries separated by one language!

Sue,

I used to think/say that 35 years ago, but today I'm continually surprised by the extent of 'Americanisms' that show up on British TV shows. I'm similarly surprised by Brits that come to visit us.
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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Titusville, FL
Hi Sue,

If I remember correctly we have windshields while you have windscreens. We have windshield wipers and you have windscreen cleaners. :)
 
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