How confusing can we make our language?
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger. There is neither an apple nor pine in a pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are not meat at all, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweets, are actually meat.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are in fact square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. A good golfer tries to play below par, but will try to be above par at everything else he does.
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, two geese. So one moose, two meese? 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? And odd? An end?
If teachers taught, is it true that preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? 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. Flammable and inflammable appear to mean the same thing, when they ought to mean the opposite. And to shut up is the same as to pipe down.
Oh the wonders of English.
(With thanks to Anonymous)