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Why the English language is so hard to learn(13 posts)

Why the English language is so hard to learnEnglish Teacher
Jan 11, 2002 1:52 PM
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, 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. 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.

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.

PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"


Judith Ives Wereley
Director of Marketing and Communications
Rivermont Collegiate
(formerly St. Katharine's St. Mark's College Preparatory School)
Things that make you go hmmmmIAM
Jan 11, 2002 4:50 PM
It has to be the most confusing mess of a language.
I read to and with my seven year old daughter every night, and
have noticed her asking many of the same questions.
gotta love the C+C Music Factory...nm...dustin73
Jan 12, 2002 1:48 AM
re: Why the English language is so hard to learnWoof the dog
Jan 11, 2002 10:10 PM
English hard to learn? Are you kidding me?


Woof the dog.
it's a mutt languageDog
Jan 12, 2002 2:23 PM
English might be hard because it is a stew of many different languages, although largely Germanic and Latin based. It probably has more "exceptions to the rule" than other languages, for that reason. It is very arbitrary.

B.S. Philosophy, Minor in English Linguistics
Dog, can you confirm pronunciation evolution?McAndrus
Jan 24, 2002 9:55 AM
A story I heard years ago (in the 70s in fact) about the vagaries of English. I ran into it after a lifetime of asking English teachers to explain the bizarre spelling and pronunciation rules of our beloved language. Here is what I'd heard.

English as spoken today is the combination of many languages. No surprise there. The most vexing aspects are the pronunciation rules for the 'gh' words like light, bough, etc.

Let's go back to the time of the introduction of the printing press. Say, the 1500s. At the time England was a mix of three dominant languages with a smattering of lesser ones. The three were French as spoken at the court in London, Celtic as spoken by most common people, and Germanic as spoken in the eastern side of England where Vikings had landed and stayed.

In 15-whatever, Guttenburg invents the printing press. The device is an immeidate hit and begins to spread through northern Europe. Because Guttenburg (sp?) was German, the press technology migrated into the Germanic language lands first: Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway.

Where would you then expect the press to land in England? Why in the eastern Viking lands, of course. The first printers in England were those who spoke Germanic dialects. At the same time, the royal court in London was wielding its considerable influence on the language with the way words were pronounced.

So, the word we use for a light bulb or a ray of light is spelled as the Viking's descendants spelled it and pronounced as the court in London pronounced it.

Is this explanation consistent with what you know?
a minute is a minute part of a day….harlett
Jan 12, 2002 6:32 PM
query does not rhyme with very,
nor does fury sound like bury--
dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth--
job, nob, bosom, transom--
though the differences seem little,
we say actual but victual--
refer does not rhyme with deafer--
feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer--
mint, pint, senate and sedate;
dull, bull, and george ate late--
scenic, arabic, pacific,
science, conscience, scientific--
finally, which rhymes with enough:
though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?

btw....remember..never, ever use repetitive redundancies
And don't start a sentence with a conjunctionzzz
Jan 13, 2002 12:16 PM
This one took me awhile. Then George ate late and French students and Trenite just appeared in my mind! Keep the challenges coming. Your not going to get much past this old mind!

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the Z! (A gentle hint.)
Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don't mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours.

And back at you.
"Contrariwise", said Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be, but as it isn't, it 'aint. That's logic."
*S* about half no time......harlett
Jan 13, 2002 2:18 PM
Jan 14, 2002 10:14 AM
The shape poem is a nice touch. I may have met my match!
re: Why the English language is so hard to learncp123
Jan 13, 2002 8:17 PM
A bird sat on a bough, and ate some dough that was too tough so he gave a cough because he'd had enough.
excellent *S*harlett
Jan 13, 2002 10:08 PM
what fun this is........

..i never used to no, was it e before eye?
(four sometimes its eye before e.)
but now i've discovered the quay to success
it's as simple as won, too, free!
sew watt if you lose a letter or two,
the whirled won't come two an end!
can't you sea? it's as plane as the knows on yore face
spell chequer's our very best friend--
I'm still trying to figure out....Starliner
Jan 13, 2002 9:57 PM
.... why people drive cars on parkways and park them on driveways