21 November 2010

Idiosyncrasies of the English Language

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became 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 spoke 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?
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 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?

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 call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't a preacher 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 wise guy are opposites?
How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?

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.
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 an essay, I end it.

As a final note -
I plough on thoroughly through the rough although I cough and hiccough.
 

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