Saturday, February 23, 2013

English Language (Part I)

English seems soooo easy and simple, but that's because we've been raised with it .Languages like Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Arabic...or even easier languages like Spanish, can seem difficult, just because we're not used to them.

                One of my “blog readers” submitted to me this prime illustration:

You Think English is Easy???

               The bandage was wound around the wound.

               The farm was used to produce produce.
               The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

               We must polish the Polish furniture.

               The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

               Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time
               to present the present.

               A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

               When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

               I did not object to the object.

               The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

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

               They were too close to the door to close it.

               The buck does funny things when the does are present.

               A seamstress and a sewer  fell down the sewer line.

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

               The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

               Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.

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

               How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

               Do you shoot your arrow with a bow from the bow of your boat?

Is not all the foregoing confusing???

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 one moose, 2 meese? 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 which you fill in a form by filling it 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”?

Ten Reasons Why English is a Hard Language

The World's Craziest Spelling System:  English spelling is extremely counter-intuitive!  Why is it that words like “through”, “trough” and “though” sound so different?  The fact is, although it's possible to make rough guesses at  English spellings using phonetics, in order to really know English spelling, you have to memorize the spelling of every word.

Note that English is pronounced rather differently in the United States, in Britain, in Australia and in India.  Even in US, pronunciations vary from dialect to dialect.

Note:  There's good reason for the English spelling system.  It's one of the most successful spelling systems in the world, because of its flexibility and its strength across wildly differing dialects.  But that doesn’t mean it's easy to learn! For a foreigner learning to speak English, spelling is extremely difficult!

The Sound System is So Rich:  When you study a foreign language, you're liable to run into sounds which aren't present in your native tongue. Part of the challenge is learning, mechanically, how to produce these sounds.  Not only are there a million sounds to learn, but there's small indication from a word's spelling which sounds are involved.

Subtle Ordering: In English, there are subtle ordering requirements which even English speakers aren't consciously aware of. Compare, “a cute little puppy” to “a little cute puppy.”  The first is fine, while the second sounds wrong. How is a foreigner to know which order to use?

Which Synonym to Use:  Part of becoming a master English speaker, is knowing which words to use when. For example ~ You can watch a movie or see a movie, but you can only watch TV, never see it.  You can't view either of them, even though when you watch either of them, you become aviewer (and never a watcher, much less a seer!)  Try explaining that to someone who speaks Arabic!

Stress:  In English the entire meaning of a sentence can be changed by placing stress on a word.  For example: I entered my room. I entered my room. I entered my room. I entered my room.

Poetic, Older English is Everywhere:  To be fluent in English, you must also know a little bit of older, more poetic English. In downtown Columbus there’s a church which advertises with the message, “Which part of Thou shalt not” don't you understand?”  This must be extremely confusing to most ESL speakers. Older English shows up in literature, plays, poetry...even video games.

What's Up With These Questions?  In English, it's very strange how the whole grammar of a sentence changes  when the sentence is put in question form.  “It is warm” becomes, “Is it warm?”

Irregular Conjugations of Verbs and Similar Phenomena:  English is stuffed full of irregular verbs!  Why is “bought” the past tense of “buy”and the past tense of “sell” is “sold” and neither “buyed” nor “selled” are real words?

The Case of the Leftover Cases:  Cases are different forms for words to indicate what function they serve in a sentence. For example in the sentence, “The cat ate the fish”, the “fish” is the object (it's getting eaten), and the “cat” is the subject (he's doing the eating).  There are no cases here; in order to tell  who did the eating and who got eaten, we have to look at word order.  If the sentence were, “the fish ate the cat”, the meaning would be very different.

English is mostly case-free, but there are leftovers from the old case system. That's why we have, “I”, “me”, “mine”, and “my”...And why we have “you”,“yours” and “your”...And why we have, “he”, “him”, and “his”... And why we have, “we”, “us”, “ours” and “our.”.In each of these groups, it's really the same word, just in different forms ~ different cases.

What Kind of  Word is This, Anyway?:  In English, the same word can even fall into multiple categories.  “Trust” is a noun, but also a verb.  “Quiet” is both a noun and an adjective (even though its opposite, “loud” is only an adjective).  “Abstract” is all three!

Conclusion:  If you ever find yourself stressing out over learning a foreign language, just be glad you don't have to learn English as a “second language”!

Pearl of Wisdom

“Man who run behind car...get exhausted!
(Asian Proverb)

Be sure to read  English Language Part publication
titled...Feminism in Today's English Language...which my son wrote.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written February 9, 2013
To comment … scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

No comments:

Post a Comment