English is a Crazy Language
Posted by Tunga on December 03, 1997 at 06:31:33:

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 blouse, 2 blice? 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 preachers 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 by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on
driveways and drive on parkways?

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 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.
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.

(Attribution unknown -- forwarded widely on humor lists)

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