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I’m sending this one around again (from 2019) because it was so much fun. Plus, if you’re new here, you may have missed it.
When I originally posted this article, I’d been working on some complex projects and needed a break. A friend just happened 😉 to send me the perfect grin maker right when I needed it.
I’m thinkin’ maybe you could use a kick-back-and-smile moment, too. You’re probably sick of this hot, sticky weather if you’re in the northern hemisphere (like me). And if you’re one of my Aussie or New Zealand buddies, winter may have you down.
Let’s have some fun with how we Yanks – who speak ‘American’ – use English. And maybe show everyone why it’s so challenging to learn American as a second language.
If you’re the author of this fun text
(which was signed ‘Anonymous’ when my friend found it),
would you please contact me?
I’ll update this post to include your information.
(Except for a few grammar issues and adding section headings, I’ve left this article as I found it.)
The Amazing English Language
- The bandage was wound around the wound.
- The farm was used to produce produce.
- The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.
- We must polish the Polish furniture.
- He could lead if he would get the lead out.
- The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
- There is no time like the present: it was time to present the present.
- When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
- I did not object to the object.
- The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
- There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
- They were too close to the door to close it.
- The buck does funny things when the does are present.
- A seamstress and a sewer fell into a sewer line.
- To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
- The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
- Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
- I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
- 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 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 writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?”
The author’s list just. gets. better.
“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? [Note from Kathie: Yes. ‘Indices’ is correct.] Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
[Note from Kathie: one of my favorites. I think I asked this when I was around 10 years old! :->] 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 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?”
I love their ending … ‘specially the P.S.
“How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Marvel at the unique lunacy of a language where your house burns up as it burns down; you fill in a form by filling it out; 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 not.
PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?”
Join the Conversation
It’s your turn! Please select one of these discussion topics or bring your own:
- Which item(s) brought you the biggest chuckle? Why?
- Were there any surprises? Any “I hadn’t thought of that!” goodies?
- Is there a similar list outside the writing industry? Share the grin. 😉
Let’s learn from each other!
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My favorite was what is the singular of odds and ends. My additional “only in English” is driving on a parkway and parking in a driveway.
And this doesn’t even address crazy spelling principles! I remember starting to teach my first born to read and panicking thinking no one could ever learn all those exceptions. [Spoiler alert: I did remember that it was indeed possible, as I could read, along with millions of others, now including all my children. ;-)]
Thanks, as always, for another excellent article!
You’re welcome, and I like that one, too!
Until I read this article the first time, the ‘parkway’ and ‘driveway’ thing hadn’t occurred to me. SO much fun.
I’m glad you enjoyed this.
It amazes me that – no matter how many times I read it – there is always something I forgot from the last round :->