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#99001 - 12/06/2002 14:14 That crazy English language
svferris
addict

Registered: 06/11/2001
Posts: 700
Loc: San Diego, CA, USA
With all the discussions we have on English language around here, I thought you guys would love this. Someone just forwarded it to me:

Consider that most of this makes perfect sense to you. If you've mastered this, you should be able to master anything!!!

This little ditty on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. A linguist - original author unknown - passed it on. Peruse at your leisure English lovers.

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:
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) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) 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 or 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?

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? 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 down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

People, not computers, invented English 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"
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#99002 - 12/06/2002 14:20 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
genixia
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/02/2002
Posts: 3411
HeHe...Love it.
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#99003 - 12/06/2002 14:29 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'd love to know the original source for that.

I know it's hard to find original sources for things that get echoed around the internet, but still...
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#99004 - 12/06/2002 14:51 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
According to this, the second half is from "Crazy English" by Richard Lederer. Can't find the first part tho...
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#99005 - 12/06/2002 16:28 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
ashmoore
addict

Registered: 24/08/1999
Posts: 564
Loc: TX
That would have to be the American version then.
No offense to the colonies, but...
In England, farms do not produce 'produce', they are crops
or nobody would 'dove' anywhere, they would dive.
or the use of the " ' " character would not be optional and people would understand the use of "too" instead of "to".
English Muffins and French Fries are both american inventions, as is eggplant (instead of aubergine) and hamburger, mind you, we don't stand in line, we queue

But other than that, english is a way screwed up language, I mean who the heck came up with yacht.
I suppose that is the down side to taking over half the world at one time or another and bastardising the local language and incorporating it. That and the fact that you can blame almost all of the the world problems on the english!!!
Look at Cyprus, Ireland, India/Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Australia, USA and the Commonwealth to name a few.
After co-opting so many languages into english, then having it hijacked by a larger country, maybe we should just rename english to something that reflects its screwed up ability to be universally used and abused at the same time!
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#99006 - 12/06/2002 16:47 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
number6
old hand

Registered: 30/04/2001
Posts: 744
Loc: In The Village or sometimes: A...
Yeah, can't disagree.

This expression:

pretty little girls school

Can have many meanings - based on how you would punctuate it.

[e.g. "pretty, little, girls, school" or "pretty little, girls school" are totally different in meaning].

I read this in some American computer book about 20+ years ok as a proof of how hard english is to interpret by computers.


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#99007 - 12/06/2002 16:50 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
visuvius
addict

Registered: 18/02/2002
Posts: 658
" That and the fact that you can blame almost all of the the world problems on the english!!! "

- word to that.

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#99008 - 12/06/2002 16:54 Re: That crazy English language [Re: visuvius]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
As if we haven't caused enough trouble ourselves. I think the Brits are tired of causing trouble around the world (have been for centuries) and now it's everyone else's turn.
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#99009 - 12/06/2002 16:55 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
Anonymous
Unregistered


HAIR is a word that as a singular suggests more than its plural.

ZENZIZENZIZENZIC (eighth power of a number) has more Z's than any other word in English.

WWW as an abbreviation for "World Wide Web" has 9 spoken syllables, whereas the term being abbreviated has only 3 spoken syllables.

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#99010 - 12/06/2002 18:32 Re: That crazy English language [Re: svferris]
ricin
veteran

Registered: 19/06/2000
Posts: 1495
Loc: US: CA
....Drive on parkway's and park on driveway's.

Then, of course, people argue that the definition of a parkway is a "landscaped highway, often divided by a planted median strip," which would explain that the "park" in parkway is to be interpreted as "an area of land set aside for public use." I guess it is, but have you ever seen anyone having a picnic in the middle of the highway?
They would also argue that a driveway is defined as "a private road that connects a house, garage, or other building with the street," which I would say it is. SO, that explains the whole thing; but still, having to explain things like that to someone just learning English seems absurd.




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#99011 - 12/06/2002 20:24 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3158
Loc: Portland, OR
nobody would 'dove' anywhere, they would dive.

The example is given in the past tense -- you've changed tenses here. Not to appear tense about the subject.

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#99012 - 12/06/2002 20:37 Re: That crazy English language [Re: canuckInOR]
BAKup
addict

Registered: 11/11/2001
Posts: 552
Loc: Houston, TX
I'm a wigwam. I'm a teepee. I'm a wigwam. I'm a teepee.

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#99013 - 12/06/2002 21:14 Re: That crazy English language [Re: BAKup]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
Dude you're too tense.
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#99014 - 12/06/2002 22:29 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
``Hair'' tends to mean more than ``hairs'', but you leave out the correct analogy of ``a hair''. Interesting nonetheless.

The verbal complexity of ``WWW'' versus it's ``longer'' form is interesting, and hadn't quite occurred to me before. An interesting thing to note is that the most significant shortening by abbreviation is that of ``El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula'' to ``LA'' (not that the city has gone by that name in hundreds of years).

But, given that ``zenzizenzizenzic'' isn't in the Oxford English Dictionary, I'll have to call foul on that one.
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#99015 - 12/06/2002 22:33 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tfabris]
svferris
addict

Registered: 06/11/2001
Posts: 700
Loc: San Diego, CA, USA
Dude you're too tense

Man...I should have checked the board earlier. That's like one of my favorite jokes!
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#99016 - 13/06/2002 00:17 Re: That crazy English language [Re: wfaulk]
ithoughti
old hand

Registered: 17/07/2001
Posts: 721
Loc: Boston, MA USA
zenzizenzizenzic

well...it ain't the oxford english dictionary...
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#99017 - 13/06/2002 00:20 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ]
lastdan
enthusiast

Registered: 31/05/2002
Posts: 352
Loc: santa cruz,ca
>>ZENZIZENZIZENZIC (eighth power of a number) has more Z's than any other word in English.

well I should freaking hope so !

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#99018 - 13/06/2002 02:58 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
peter
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/07/2000
Posts: 4151
Loc: Cambridge, England
In England, farms do not produce 'produce', they are crops

The greengrocery section of a supermarket tends to be called "produce" these days, but that might be an import.

or nobody would 'dove' anywhere, they would dive.

Dove is a past tense form. But I'd say it was becoming obsolete compared to "dived".

French Fries are both american inventions

Weren't they orignally Pont-Neuf potatoes?

as is eggplant (instead of aubergine)

You can watch the word "aubergine" changing slowly over its whole long linguistic journey from Sanskrit through Ancient Greek to French then English. Then the Americans decided to call it eggplant <sigh>.

I like the way that in England the Royal Mail brought the post, but in the USA the US Postal Service brings the mail. Much more of this in Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue and Made In America.

Peter

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#99019 - 13/06/2002 04:42 Re: That crazy English language [Re: peter]
boxer
pooh-bah

Registered: 16/04/2002
Posts: 2011
Loc: Yorkshire UK
Parkway isn't one that's often used in the UK except, in recent years to name stations. However why is a"Ha-Ha" a fence or wall set in a ditch round a garden or park, you can't get crazier than that, except it comes from the French.
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#99020 - 13/06/2002 05:30 Re: That crazy English language [Re: wfaulk]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12097
Loc: Sterling, VA
Along the lines of the WWW thing, I had a question about ER and it's relation to the real emergency rooms of America (since we have some people who work there or have done so in the past).

On ER, when I used to watch it before it became stupid, every time someone came in who had been shot, they always call it a "GSW". That has 5 syllables, whereas "Gun shot wound" has 3. What do real ERs say?
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#99021 - 13/06/2002 06:13 Re: That crazy English language [Re: wfaulk]
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Well, in "WWW" most people end up tripping over the letter W and pronouncing it "dubya," much to the amusement of George W. Bush, I'm sure. I think we should invent a new pronunciation for W so it's one syllable like the other 25 letters. Why the hell is W so special that it gets three syllables?
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#99022 - 13/06/2002 06:23 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13962
Loc: Canada
>After co-opting so many languages into english,
>then having it hijacked by a larger country

Hey, I ressemble that remark!

I just want to make it perfectly clear, that Hijack had nothing to do with all of this (even if it does use mainly "american" spellings just to squish more words into some menu items) -- I'm Canadian!


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#99023 - 13/06/2002 06:26 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tonyc]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13962
Loc: Canada
>WWW

"Dub-dub-dubya"

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#99024 - 13/06/2002 06:37 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tonyc]
pgrzelak
carpal tunnel

Registered: 15/08/2000
Posts: 4859
Loc: New Jersey, USA
Greetings!

Things are a bit slow at the office today. Well, technically I could be doing something useful, but I actually started looking this up (origin of the letter w). Suffice it to say, most links I found seem to point to it being used as literally a "double u", and that it got mashed around a bit over time.

I will spare the links to the sites about the Phoenician alphabet evolving into "upsilon", etc... This is left as an excercise for the bored reader. See Google: letter origin w.
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#99025 - 13/06/2002 06:42 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
SE_Sport_Driver
carpal tunnel

Registered: 05/01/2001
Posts: 4903
Loc: Detroit, MI USA
hamburger

You must have been absent that day, but we've already gone over the history of the Hamburger, and it's not American!
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#99026 - 13/06/2002 06:46 Re: That crazy English language [Re: pgrzelak]
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Yeah, and it's also fun to note that in French, the letter W is pronounced "doublay-vay", literally, "double V" (since the letter V is pronounced "vay.") Make it more confusing that "vay" in German equates to "W" with V instead being pronounced "fow." In typical English fashion, the worst of both worlds was chosen between the Romance and Germanic languages.

The common origins of the letters U and V helps explain things a little, but a little housecleaning is in order for English. Unfortunately, since broken English is the official language of the entire planet, I think changing things at this point might be a little difficult.
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#99027 - 13/06/2002 06:52 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tonyc]
pgrzelak
carpal tunnel

Registered: 15/08/2000
Posts: 4859
Loc: New Jersey, USA
Greetings!

...changing things at this point might be a little difficult...

Not really. Languages change all the time, evolving, mutating. All that is needed is time. Given enough time, "double-u" as we know it now may transform into "dubya", and the letters L, M, N and O may merge into one character "elemeno"...
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#99028 - 13/06/2002 06:58 Re: That crazy English language [Re: ashmoore]
butter
enthusiast

Registered: 07/03/2002
Posts: 211
Loc: State side
according to this the word ZENZIZENZIZENZIC is no longer used, that is why it doesn't appear in the oxford english dictionary. Also if you read that page you will notice that the word is borrowed from the germans. If you also look in a dictionary you will find that many of the words are based upon root words from greek and latin words. therefore our messed up language can be blamed on Europeans!

Just a side note. the term french fries has nothing to do with the country of origin. it is how the potatoes are cut, the proper term would be to call them frenched fries.
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#99029 - 13/06/2002 07:00 Re: That crazy English language [Re: pgrzelak]
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
and the letters L, M, N and O may merge into one character "elemeno"...

Yeah, for all of those words that have the letters "L M N O" in sequence.

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#99030 - 13/06/2002 07:05 Re: That crazy English language [Re: tonyc]
pgrzelak
carpal tunnel

Registered: 15/08/2000
Posts: 4859
Loc: New Jersey, USA
Greetings!

More thinking along the lines of "The Alphabet Song", and how children will slur the letters together as one letter. Given enough time, they may merge...
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