Today I was browsing through old newsletters I made years ago for my daughter’s 5th grade class, and for an office where I worked. Among my papers I found this oldie but goodie that still makes me smile…
OUR CRAZY LANGUAGE
by “Crazy English” by Richard Lederer (condensed and edited slightly)
English is the most widely used language in the history of our planet. One in every seven human beings can speak it. Of all languages, English has the largest vocabulary – perhaps as many as two million words. Nonetheless, let’s face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, pine nor apple in a pineapple, and no ham in a hamburger. English muffins weren’t invented in England, nor french fries in France. Sweet-meats are candy, while sweet-breads are meat (and aren’t even sweet.)
Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, public bathrooms have no baths and a guinea pig is neither a pig nor from Guinea.
Why is it that a writer writes, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth? One goose, two geese. So why not one moose, two meese?
If the teacher taught, why isn’t it true that the preacher praught? In what other language do people drive on a parkway and park in a driveway? Shop 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? If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress??
When you write a letter, you say “I wrote a letter” does that mean if you bite your tongue you should say “I bote my tongue?”
We talk about certain things only when something is missing. Have you ever seen a strapfull gown, met a sung hero, or experience requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly, or peccable?
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 your alarm clock goes off by going on. If don’t is the short form of “do not,” what is won’t short for?
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which isn’t a race at all.) That is why when stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible.