Off topic: Why English is so difficult (part II)
Thread poster: swisstell

swisstell
Italy
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
Aug 4, 2003

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. 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? 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? 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 wiseguy are opposites? - You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as its burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. And how come we cut a tree down before we cut it up? If Dad is Pop, how come mom isn't Mop?

Have a great week!


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krishna mallick
India
Local time: 00:58
Japanese to English
+ ...
Would say english is the first language i like. Aug 4, 2003

I would like to narrate a few lines about my experiences with english.

If you ask me about the english language, I being a person from a land where numerous languages are spoken,ie from India, prefer only speaking english as a better and easy means of communication. Since my childhood, my language of instruction had been english and though it was tough for me to speak it out, not because i did not understand or know but because of shyness that i took a backseat, though grammatically and sentence structure wise, mine was the best among my circle of friends.

But as the years passed, my love for the language grew and i tried to speak my best in most of the situations, to come up boldly and speak up, i would like to remind that my grammar perfect. But now, i feel so easy when speaking that some people really adore it and that happened because i spoke up and communicated only in english.

So, in the end I would like to say that though it looks difficult, and is difficult for people of some countries, but in my case, it has always been a passion to build up better vocabulary and become fluent, use superb vocabulary, and so on.

I would suggest to anybody and everybody tha though it is tough, unless you standup and speak there is no way that you can become like the other person, and if you do it, you will surely surpass the other person in a short time.

Of course it is a tough one, but one has to have a determination to achieve that.


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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Beware of folk etymology Aug 4, 2003

There's no ham in hamburger but there is the city of HAMBURG. which is where style of meat comes from....


Also, re remind...in English, you ALWAYS have to say remind X of something, you can't use the verb remind without an indirect object....

cheers
Jane


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swisstell
Italy
Local time: 21:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It was posted for enjoyment not nitpicking Aug 4, 2003

I received the item from a friend and thought it was partially clever and partially funny enough to pass it on. Quite a few colleagues thought so too.
It was never intended for nitpickers and lecturers. I am quite aware of Hamburg/Germany (where I visited many times) and the origin of the "hamburger"
- and I also realize that the English language was somewhat "mistreated" However, I suggest to Jane to loosen up a bit, relax, have a chuckle once in a while. Things cannot just be only "that's it and nothing else"!


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xxxCHENOUMI  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
I did enjoy and Aug 5, 2003

...also marveled at the language peculiarities!

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy* of a language in which your house can burn up as its burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. And how come we cut a tree down before we cut it up? If Dad is Pop, how come mom isn't Mop?


*Not an overstatement...;)


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Brezhnev in Hamburg Aug 5, 2003

Many years ago.when Brezhnev visited Hamburg, the Tass in English teletype service (which was all in capital letters) reported that "THE STREETS WERE LINED WITH HAMBURGERS".

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Mario Marcolin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:28
Member (2003)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Ham hamburger anyone? Aug 5, 2003

Hamburg is surely a mythical place. In Sweden you can buy sliced "Hamburgerkött" (Hamburg meat)which is - horse meat.

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Khulan Shiiter  Identity Verified
Mongolia
Local time: 04:28
Member (2003)
English to Mongolian
+ ...
e-rich, thanks a lot for a wonderful laugh!!! Aug 5, 2003

You truly made this cloudy day - I am having - a lot brighter. Appreciate your sharing and sense of humor.

Khulan

e-rich wrote:

I received the item from a friend and thought it was partially clever and partially funny enough to pass it on. Quite a few colleagues thought so too.
It was never intended for nitpickers and lecturers. I am quite aware of Hamburg/Germany (where I visited many times) and the origin of the "hamburger"
- and I also realize that the English language was somewhat "mistreated" However, I suggest to Jane to loosen up a bit, relax, have a chuckle once in a while. Things cannot just be only "that's it and nothing else"!


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Mario Marcolin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:28
Member (2003)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mama Aug 6, 2003

An "mama" in Georgian means 'father'!

e-rich wrote:
If Dad is Pop, how come mom isn't Mop?


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:28
German to Italian
+ ...
LOL! Aug 6, 2003

Mario Marcolin wrote:

An "mama" in Georgian means 'father'!

e-rich wrote:
If Dad is Pop, how come mom isn't Mop?


LOL!! In some dialects of northern Italy "uomen" doesnt' mean women. It means men!
By the way, Mario: your name sounds Italian, doesn't it?


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Mario Marcolin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:28
Member (2003)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Oii! Aug 11, 2003

Si,
xo da Venexia, Oii!
Lorenzo Lilli wrote:

Mario Marcolin wrote:

An "mama" in Georgian means 'father'!

e-rich wrote:
If Dad is Pop, how come mom isn't Mop?


LOL!! In some dialects of northern Italy "uomen" doesnt' mean women. It means men!
By the way, Mario: your name sounds Italian, doesn't it?


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 22:28
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Some more :) May 5, 2005

For Those who Reed and Right
We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.


If the plural of man is always called 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?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?


Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we 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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Elizabeth Sumner
Local time: 20:28
Russian to English
+ ...
Truly awful old joke May 5, 2005

On the subject, I just want to an oldie but goldie:

1st man: My dog's got no nose.
2nd man: How does it smell?
1st man: Terrible!

Sorry for that, I couldn't resist.

Elizabeth


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 13:28
English
Even more fun, spoken English May 5, 2005

Even for well-read native English speakers, this one damages brain cells:

"The Chaos"
by Dr. Gerald Nolst Trenite, a.k.a. Charivarius (1870-1946)
(Read it aloud)

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

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.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, 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, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!


This poem first appeared in Drop Your Foreign Accent - Engelse Uitspraakoefeningen, by G. Nolst Trenite (5th rev. ed., H. D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon, 1929).


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 13:28
English
Cheque yore spelling awn pea seas May 5, 2005

Another poem that makes me wonder how I ever learned English!



Owed to My Spell Checker, (author unknown)


I have a spelling checker.
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed to bee a joule.
The checker poured ore every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Be fore a vailing checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if were lacks o'er have a laps,
We wood bee maid to wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun aye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft ware for pea seas,
And why I brake in two averse
When righting what aye pleas.


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Why English is so difficult (part II)

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