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Saturday, August 31, 2013

English is a bastard language

"English is a Bastard Language"
-JR Melkin

As we have discussed in class, why is facial spelled facial and while spatial uses a 'T'? Why le, el, al, and l are used in different words but sound the same? Who makes up these words?

Because we steal from everyone to make English the most complete and flexible language in the world. It was born of French, Norse, Latin and other laguages mixed in a cultural pot. I suggest you read "the Story of English" or rent the PBS video of the same title.

Now on to some fun with words...

 With a special thank you to my friend Charlie DiPinto, actor and professional Stooge (Curley).

An Ode of English Plurals
(shouldn't this read an ode to English plurals)

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,

But the plural of ox becomes 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 speak 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!

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?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English

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?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.

We have noses that run and feet that smell.

We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.

And 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.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?


Anonymous said...

Truer words may have never been spoken. Then people wonder why even those of us with English as a first language have problems with it.

While it may not be a .gov or a documentary this site has some other English eccentrics to laugh about and ponder.

Ryan Clift
Com 101 - 4049

Anonymous said...

I think this is hilarious. Probably because I am a big English buff and I have the worst time trying to learn to speak spanish because I get so confused. And I am always correcting the english of my boyfriend so much that if I even make one little slip up on my speaking that he has to correctit on me.

Nicole Baxter
Com 101-4080

Sabrina said...

My family and I always comment on stuff like this... Especially the Moose/Meese part! This was a fun read.

Anonymous said...

That was fantastic. I, mean, I already knew about English having roots in nearly everything, but that poem was great. It was creative and interesting, and I caught myself laughing at quite a few things. And it rhymed and flowed in a way that reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book.

Rebecca Johnson 4049