The peculiarities of the English language.

Australia
January 26, 2007 11:17pm CST
A few discussions lately have spoken of the English language. When we read some of the old classics, we are swept upwards by the emotions expressed in words. It is a grand language. On the other hand, English is also full of peculiarities. For instance, the oft quoted one: if the plural of mouse is mice, why isn't the plural of house, hice? or of spouse, spice? And why do two words with the exact same spelling, have to be pronounced differently? For example: The bandage was WOUND round the WOUND. They were too CLOSE to the door to CLOSE it. When I saw the TEAR in my dress, I shed a TEAR. The farm was used to PRODUCE PRODUCE. He could LEAD if he got the LEAD out of his boots. The insurance was INVALID for the INVALID. and Since there was no time like the PRESENT, he thought it was time to PRESENT the PRESENT. A few questions: Why do you fill IN a form when you fill it OUT? Why are sweetMEATS candies, but sweetBREADS are meats? SHARE some more of these peculiarities with other myLot friends. Let's have some fun. What tickles your thinking here? Search your mind. Who knows the difference between "lay" and "lie"?
7 people like this
11 responses
@webduck (238)
• United States
27 Jan 07
One that always trips me up is fiery. You would think it should be firey, but no...This has been a very good discussion. I liked it! I always feel sorry for people who are learning English. I do get confused over some German phrasing too though. And, to them (I think) everything is a him. I have a German neighbor, and she always called our female cat "him".
2 people like this
• Australia
28 Jan 07
Thanks. I feel sorry for the French (and I think the Spanish) because every object is either male or female, with no rhyme or reason, and you have to remember which is which.
1 person likes this
@manong05 (5029)
• Philippines
27 Jan 07
Ok here are some words I can think of off hand. If the past tense of teach is taught why is preach not prought? The plural form of box is boxes, fox, foxes but why can't we say oxes but oxen. We pronouce lead as leed but for soldering lead we say led. And yes, we call food tasteless if they are not good, but an item is called priceless when they get too expensive. English language is interesting.
• Australia
27 Jan 07
Thanks, Manong. I like the tasteless/priceless one.
1 person likes this
@imadriscoll (2230)
• United States
27 Jan 07
How about, "Did you read it?" Reply, "Yes, I have read it." I have also always been confused by things such as, too, to and two or there, they're and their..
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Jan 07
Oh and what about "rules" for the English language, like "I before E, except after C ... unless the word is weird."
1 person likes this
• Australia
28 Jan 07
Thanks for those. Here's another: Why do we RECITE at a PLAY - and PLAY at a RECITAL?
1 person likes this
@Ashida (1370)
• United States
28 Jan 07
I think it's these very peculiarities that make English such a marvelously artistic language. I feel sorry for anyone who has to learn it as a second language because there appear to be more exceptions to the rules than there are rules; however, in terms of nuanced expression, English is difficult to top. Many languages rely on inflection to impart meaning, but English relies on its immense vocabulary -- one of the largest, if not the largest in the world. What makes it so fun is that it's such a hodge-podge language, pulling from so many different language systems and melding them into one. Depending on the origin of the verb, you can conjugate it in any number of ways. But then that's the beauty of it.
1 person likes this
• Australia
28 Jan 07
Thanks Ashida. English is indeed exquisite. It is such a shame that it is being murdered by so many. I agree that the origins of words give it depth. It is also a pity that derivation is no longer taught in our schools.
@Evacuee (1149)
27 Jan 07
We have words like 'bellows, binoculars, glasses, gallows, pliers, scissors which are only exist in the plural. Then theres Fair and Fare and how about Fayre? And There and Their. Then Excuse in two forms ie: Please Excuse me while I think of an Excuse. We had better Record the Record that has just been broken. The pin was so Minute the Minute I found it. Polish...The Polish man found the Polish. Permit...Will you Permit me to pass if I show my Permit. Bow.. He stood on the Bow of the ship to fire his arrow from his Bow and then he gave a Bow in appreciation. Intimate... He tried to intimate that I had been intimate with his wife! Wound.. The nurse Wound a bandage round his wound. And so on and so on.....
• Australia
28 Jan 07
Thanks, Friend. It was said by an Italian of the Aussies "They're a weird mob!" I love the English language, but I must admit it is weird. I wouldn't like to try to learn it as a second language, but then again, I'd hate to be French and have to learn which things are male and which female.
1 person likes this
@draconess (651)
• Canada
1 Mar 07
Thanks, this has been a fun discussion to read through! I know one thing that is difficult for people to learn is spelling... ie (as in believe) can be pronounced the same way as ei (as in receive), so people often mix them up ough has many pronunciations (though, enough) neighbour is a very commonly misspelled word around here... Then there's UK vs US spellings of words (color vs colour), and we often use the UK version with the extra 'u' in Canada
• Australia
1 Mar 07
The general rule for the ie sound is "i before e except after c" ough is a funny one with four different sounds: though, through, thought, enough. I have wondered if Canada follows US or English. I would have expected it to follow English, but Canadian writing I have seen seems to follow US. Which is taught in the schools?
• Canada
2 Mar 07
Generally, my schools taught original English spellings, not the versions the Americans changed. We kept the extra 'u' and things like that, they (USA) shortened theirs (color, neighbor, etc.)
• Australia
5 Mar 07
Thanks for that info. I had wondered.
• United States
27 Feb 07
I know I know several of these but they evade my brain right now. Just wanted to say great topic. The English language is crazy. Even crazier at times is the American language LOL. Oooh I know - Which witch is which?
• Australia
27 Feb 07
Another good one. Thanks. Keep them coming. This could help our myLotters who have English as a second language.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Feb 07
Do we include oxymorons? Like jumbo shrimp. A plastic glass. Parking in the driveway but driving on the parkway.
• Australia
28 Feb 07
Certainly! It is all part of our language. More good ones. Thanks. Here's another: If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Why do we have noses that run, and feet that smell?
1 person likes this
1 Mar 07
You can have a row of chairs, row a boat and have a row with someone? We have cats, dogs, cows, why not sheeps? The one kids always get wrong is write and writ. Why is it wrote. I work with a couple of women who are learning English and they not only have to cope with this, but also the pragmatics. Often they will ask us to explain what we have just said as they do not understand our conversations. Its only when I try to do this I realise how hard it must be for them.
• Australia
5 Mar 07
Since so many English speaking people are so bad with grammar, I wonder how non-English can possibly learn all the intricacies. I admire them.
@nibory (177)
• United States
28 Jan 07
I've heard English is the most difficult language in the world. I'm grateful for a mom that started teaching me early. When I first moved to the States, I had trouble pronouncing some of the street names. One was Bronough. I wanted it to be bru noff, but the locals call bru no. Two words that I have the biggest problem with is good and well. My mother has taught me a very good rule to remember when to use which one, but I often cannot remember the rule. I know she taught me well. The apple is good. But does the car run good or well?
• Australia
27 Feb 07
GOOD is an adjective: that is, it describes a noun (a thing) For example: a good book, a good car, a good dinner. WELL is an adverb: that is, it describes a verb (a doing word) For example: she performs well, the car runs well, he paints well.
• India
27 Jan 07
versatil! flexiblllllllllllllll!
• Australia
10 Mar 07
???
• Spain
26 Feb 07
Here is a favourite of my father. How do you pronounce the GHOTI? Most people would probably silence the H and pronounce the word GOTI. But the pronunication could be FISH! For example : enouGH - F wOmen - I naTIon - SH Hence FISH