English Is Weird...

steveh.jae

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George Carlin:
The term Jumbo Shrimp has always amazed me. What is a Jumbo Shrimp? I mean, it's like Military Intelligence- the words don't go together, man.
See also in the oxymoron subcategory: divorce court, and civil war
 
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English is an amalgamation of words from so many different languages that it's little wonder that it's so difficult for non-native speakers to learn. You have words with Anglo-Saxon roots, Germanic roots, Nordic roots, Latin roots (with subsequent offshoots of French, Italian and Spanish thrown in). It's nuts.

If you are into this sort of thing, a fascinating read is The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.
 

K'Tesh

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English is an amalgamation of words from so many different languages that it's little wonder that it's so difficult for non-native speakers to learn. You have words with Anglo-Saxon roots, Germanic roots, Nordic roots, Latin roots (with subsequent offshoots of French, Italian and Spanish thrown in). It's nuts.

If you are into this sort of thing, a fascinating read is The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.
One of the fun parts was when people tried to make some words sound more Latin (or greek)... when they weren't to begin with, and all the fun that introduced... here's a quote about the word octopus.

“Octopus” is a famous one from schooldays. It’s Classical Greek in origin, converted into Modern English in the 18th century. The classical Greek plural ends in “-pia” (or whatever else it may be) but the prescriptive English plural is still “octopuses” (because it’s not Greek), not the Latin “octopi” (because it’s Greek).

I've been known to use Octopi, and Octopuses... I can also see myself also saying Octopods (referring to all of the species of the mollusk). Though Octopia doesn't sound right.

Then I do a search for the correct plural of "octopus" and I get this quote:

1645587813393.png

Man... if the Dictionary says that about the language it covers... What does that say about the language in general?
 

jqavins

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English is an amalgamation of words from so many different languages that it's little wonder that it's so difficult for non-native speakers to learn. You have words with Anglo-Saxon roots, Germanic roots, Nordic roots, Latin roots (with subsequent offshoots of French, Italian and Spanish thrown in). It's nuts.
Well... "Germanic" is a language family, of which English is a part, and which also includes German, Anglo-Saxon (whatever exactly that is, since the Angles and the Saxons were not the same people), and the Nordic languages. so to cite all of those separately is to overstate the insanity a little.
 

K'Tesh

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The Silent Alphabet
by Kevin Ahern

Of the two letters A
In AARDVARK you see
One of them’s sitting there
Silently

B is the last letter
In the word of NUMB
We do not pronounce it
I think that is DUMB

The first C in SCIENCE
Is a mystery to me
Why is it there?
It’s non-scense to me

One D in ADDITION
In algebra books
Has simply been ADDED
Because of its looks

The E’s at the end
Of DONE, GONE, and ONE
All make the same sound
That linquists call NONE

F is for failing
To produce an eff sound
In the words SNIFF and STIFF
When another one’s ‘round

As for G, the DESIGN
Is to act silently
I give up, I RESIGN
Why is this? GNUS to me

When the H is kept silent
HONESTLY, I am sour
Because I miss saying it
Each passing HOUR

In a word, it’s DECEIT
To have a silent I
But we say it when absent
WHY? Oh MY, MY

And what’s with the J?
As in jet, I’m not jokin’
It means MARIJUANA
Is always mis-spoken

A K being silent
As I recollect
Is something that is
KNOT, correct?

And regarding the L
There’s nothing odder
Than the crazy way
English speakers spell SOLDER

The M is difficult
Its problem, chronic
Only one gets pronounced
In the word MNEMONIC

N is a problem also
That needs to be stemmed
Or else our language
Could be CONDEMNED

O is a rare one
To be silent, and how
But by saying that
I’m in JEOPARDY now

Stating P’s never silent
Is an awful deceit
And for this I can hand you
A printed RECEIPT

Over Q, there’s discussion
Complicated to me
What’s silent in ‘LACQUER’
The Q or the C?

R is a challenge
So please don’t get violent
When I tell you that CARROT
Has its second one silent

S is important
I’m sure you agree
So why not pronounce it
At the end of DEBRIS?

The T sound often
Gets thrown away
Every time you LISTEN
To a DEBUT BALLET

Sometimes U’s no good
And its sound gets killed
When that happens, you know
We are talking REBUILD

The only example
Of a silent V
Is the second one in REVVED
It seems to me

For unpronounced W’s
I must go along
With the curious claim
That WRITE is the same as WRONG

The silent X and an S
Might rub you raw
When someone speaks
Of a FAUX PAS

A Y isn’t necessary
It could be gone
Based on the way
You say BEYOND

And last not least
I offer to you
A silent Z and an S
In this last RENDEZVOUS
 
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Over Q, there’s discussion
Complicated to me
What’s silent in ‘LACQUER’
The Q or the C?

I sprayed lacquer continuously for 7 years. And it always tripped me up when it came to spelling it.
 

techrat

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The state name is KANSAS..... but if you put an "AR" in front, it becomes "ARKANSAS" which is pronounced "ark-an-saw" and not "Ar-kan sas" -- seriously, WTF English?
 

Blast it Tom!

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I had a droll colleague who cracked me up. One rather animated co-worker said, "Really, why don't we call Arkansas "Ar KAN sas"? I mean we call Kansas KAN sas...", and this fellow looked up with a quizzical look and said, "I always thought it was "ken SAW!" The look on his face and his delivery, I couldn't stop laughing for a couple of minutes!
 
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Blast it Tom!

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I suppose you're close enough to pick up some of it! One of my favorites is "Dippy eggs." But that is a thread diversion, I suppose. More to the point of the thread, I suppose, is what I said when I showed my grandson my 12" throat coping saw: "You ought to see what I saw with my C-saw!
 

MarsFire

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"You park a car in a driveway, and you drive a car in a parkway." George Carlin

For once George was wrong about something. You drive a car ON a Parkway, not in one.


Andrew
 

MarsFire

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I remember one time in, I think, 2nd grade. Walked in to the classroom first thing in the morning and the teacher had written the following on the board.

M R Ducks
M R Not Ducks
O S M R
C UM Wangs

To make a long story short after much joking about wangs and wondering what was meant by Mr. Ducks, the teacher read the cryptic writing aloud as follows:

'Em are ducks! 'Em are not ducks! Oh 'es 'em are. See 'em wangs?

For those of you who do not understand central Texas drawl that translates to:

Those are ducks. Those are not ducks. Oh yes they are, do you see their wings?

I've never forgotten that.


Andrew
 

MarsFire

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So I guess I have to admit I didn't get 100% on this sadly. There were 3 words that tripped me up. I have never in my life seen the words Ague and Melpomene. No idea how to properly pronounce them. Then there is the trick word. Did y'all catch it? Bass. I pronounced it like the instrument. I think they were looking for the fish.


Andrew
 

teepot

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I grew up in Michigan. I remember being told that there were a lot of TV announcers you came from Michigan. The reason was/is because they didn't have an accent. Nevada is the same way. Most people are from some where else. So I think over time their accents meld into one. Both sets of my grand parents are from Scotland. When we were England I went to Scotland twice. We went to the Edinburgh area. After a few hours of listening to the accents I was speaking like them. My buddy and I were sitting in a pub in Dunfermline. A Scott to my left and him to my right. He kept asking me what they said and I had no trouble having heard it growing up. I remember my one Grandfather saying Al-u-Min-e-Um rather than A-Lum-in-um. I still spell some words the way they are in England.
 

Cape Byron

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I remember my one Grandfather saying Al-u-Min-e-Um rather than A-Lum-in-um. I still spell some words the way they are in England.

I've thought this was the best explanation.

"The American Chemical Society (ACS) officially adopted aluminum in 1925, but in 1990 The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) accepted aluminium as the international standard.

And so we land today: with aluminum used by the English speakers of North America, and aluminium used everywhere else. Wrap your food and protect your head accordingly."

 

Blast it Tom!

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Well, along the lines of what @teepot said, this Western Pennsylvania rube had to go to England on business. Thank God I had some friends who were British! It was all the desk clerk at the hotel and I could do to understand one another!
 
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