Monday, August 11, 2008

The Paradox of English Language

The English Language
and the lunacy of it all


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 index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb thru 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 preacher 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?

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



- Parable by BayiSingh of Africa

11 comments:

Avatar said...

Great observations about the English language.

Don't fall head over heels thinking about it.

Just have your cake and eat it too :)

D'Factory Outlet said...

headache.........

Maverick SM said...

Avatar,

That BayiSingh is an English teacher in Africa.

D'Factory Outlet,

Panadol?

HuntressMoon said...

eh why did it come out as d'factory outlet?

sheriff said...

BayiSingh's diamond factory was closed down by Mugabe. So he is now an English teacher in Namibia. He came to Malaysia for a holiday recently and was in Genting. I think Mave saw him after that.

famil said...

i always wonder how come pen is pronounced as pen, peanut is peanut, but penis is peanus.

Maverick SM said...

HuntressMoon,

You are surprised? I too.

Sheriff,

Yes, I saw Bayi with Lim Goh Tong at Genting.

Famil,

Was penis pronounced as peanus? I thought it is dick.

Avatar said...

Siapa ini Bayi Singh? Where's his biography?

:)

Maverick SM said...

Avatar,

BayiSingh is a very humble man. He leads a very low profile life. His biography is in Africa and he do not allow the websites to publish it. You have to get a copy from the African library.

Anonymous said...

desi is illiteray expert in proper ingeris like ex-MB of selangwent, you are the sexpert in madgrish in in-comeGO:)
i fell for a gal but didn't get hurt
she fell out and somebody got hurt
saifool had his backside entered
but the semn went thro the roof so no dna traces
hence some UMNOguns got conned
used million0dolar bullets couldn't hit a single cell
what a bunch of loser-whiners
dpm-ktm-rmn-pdrm descending like your rm and ex-MB's engrish
didn't know how to fill in/up immi forms
wanna promote FDI into selangwent
__ Desi

Maverick SM said...

Desi,

That's funny!