The Strange English Language

The following is a guest blog from RuthJ at caderyan.com and was submitted to me via myblogguest.com. Enjoy!

 

The English language is a strange little thing. It contains the most words out of any other language, and though it is widely spoken throughout the world, it is actually one of the most difficult languages to learn.

Most other languages have rules associated with why the language is the way it is. Sentences are laid out to make sense and phonetics are easier to dissect. In English, there is no rhyme or reason to the way certain things are spelled or pronounced, and some of the words we use today don’t make sense as to why.

Languages were invented, which leaves it susceptible to error and confusion, and the English language is no exception. If we could go back in time when the English language was being created, we would have plenty of questions.

Did you ever notice that certain words would make more sense if used correctly with its counterparts? For example:

1. Why do we drive on parkways, yet park on driveways?

2. Why do we use garment bags to pack suits, yet we use suitcases to pack garments?

3. How come we play at a recital, yet we recite a play?

4. How come when we move something via a ship it’s called cargo, yet when we move something by car it’s called a shipment?

5. Why do we call people who ride bikes cyclists, but people who ride motorcycles bikers?

For the English language to make perfect sense, you would think that we would drive on driveways and park on parkways and that we would call those who ride bikes bikers and those who rode motorcycles cyclists. Instead, we do things backwards.

Then there are those items that involve numbers that simply don’t make sense. For example:

1. Why is it called a pair of pants when you only get one?

2. Why is first-degree murder worse than third-degree murder, but first-degree burns are less serious than third-degree burns?

3. Why do we call it a television set if we only get one?

We also have words that follow one rule but not for others. For example:

1. How come the day breaks but never falls, yet night falls but never breaks?

2. How come a king rules a kingdom, but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom?

And then there are just certain questions we wish we had answers to, including:

1. Why does the word lisp have an s in it? Was it some type of cruel joke?

2. How come there is no synonym for the word synonym?

3. Why are deer and moose the same for both singular and plural versions?

4. What was the purpose of spelling read and read or lead and lead the same but making them have two different phonetics?

5. How come you can turn a light on, off or out, but you can’t turn it in?

6. How can you be head over heels? Aren’t you already head over heels? Shouldn’t it be heels over head?

7. Why can -ough be pronounced seven different ways?

Unfortunately we may never know the answer to some of these questions, and the English language will continue to be a mystery to everyone.

 

Robert Hunt is a writer and linguist. He has studied the forms and details of many different languages. Robert has recently enrolled in Accent Pros accent classes to learn how to pronounce words with different accents.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Fantastic! Ronnie Barker woul love this post. See ‘Four Candles’ on YouTube!

    Reply

    • O I love that sketch! Four candles, fork handles. Even though I’ve watched it a billion times, I still can’t remember which one they’re actually asking for!

      Reply

  2. Reblogged this on davidmcgowanauthor.com and commented:
    What a crazy thing the English language is!

    Reply

  3. Posted by rambler5319 on May 14, 2012 at 08:31

    Like those. Check out these same spelling, different phonetic examples:

    THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

    Can you read these right the first time? (think carefully)

    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?

    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.

    Reply

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