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Off topic: English - a crazy language
Thread poster: Balasubramaniam L.

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:57
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Feb 10, 2006

Hindi movie aficionados will recall the hilarious dialogue between Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachan in the movie Chupke-Chupke about English being a funny language.

Here is more on the same lines. You will enjoy this all the more if you are non-native to English and often do translations into this language.

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.

The one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of moose, should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest of mice.
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot, and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose.

When we say brother, we say brethren.
But though we may say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him,
But imagine the feminine, she, shis, and shim.

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Susy Ordaz  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:27
Portuguese to English
+ ...
English is a crazy language Feb 10, 2006


I laughed my head of with your posting!
I am a native English speaker and many things hit home with what you wrote.
Many thanks.
Susy Ordaz

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Prokop Vantuch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:27
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
Another one... Feb 10, 2006

And what do you think about this one?

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


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Prokop Vantuch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:27
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
And one more... Feb 10, 2006


Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.
From "desire": desirable--admirable from "admire."
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.
Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with "darky."
Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,
Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.
Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, want, grand, and grant.
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.
Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,
Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,
Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation--think of psyche--!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying "grits"?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!

Do you know the correct pronunciation of all the words?


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Veronika Hansova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:27
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
Half way through, I broke my tongue! Feb 10, 2006

Oh man,
that's just about crazy! We should hold a contest here and the winner will be the one who learns the poem from above by heart!
I always thought that the worst thing to be pronounced in English was the opening of the Canterbury Tales in 14th-century English. And I was always so much proud of me when I managed to say that in without any mistakes in pron. Well, THIS made me change my priorities.:-)))

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:57
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
It's more crazier than I thought! Feb 10, 2006

Gosh! You will make me forget the little English I know!

The trouble is, no one is prepared to give it up.

Prokop Vantuch wrote:


Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!


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Dave Summers
Local time: 20:27
+ ...
Who's on First? Feb 10, 2006

How about this classic from baseball, Who's on First? by Abbott and Costello. It's a bit long so I'll just provide a link, but this is one of my favorite word games. For those of you not familiar with it, it is about two guys trying to descibe the players on a baseball team, but getting confused about what their names actually are.

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María Teresa Taylor Oliver  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Crazy language English is! (á la Yoda :P) Feb 10, 2006

Thank you, Balasubramaniam! [I had to copy&paste your name, sorry!! do you have a nickname? ]

That was wonderful! I remember something similar that goes: "We drive on the parkway and park on the driveway", among many other such phrases. But I can't remember the rest.

I'll Google it and paste it here if I find it

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María Teresa Taylor Oliver  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another one Feb 10, 2006

Well, I didn't find the "parkway" one, but I did find this one... Enjoy!

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 nor French fries in France.

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?

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?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be[ committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other 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.

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.

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Local time: 11:27
Italian to English
Many influences Apr 22, 2007

English is indeed crazy because it's a mixture of other languages.

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