Tag Archives: English orthography

Crazy English Indeed

A friend emailed this to me today. It’s been making the rounds for years, but I hope it will be new to many of you.  I think it was written originally by Richard Lederer, who wrote many books on the vagaries of the English language, one of which is called Crazy English.

“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, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two 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.

“P.S. Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?”

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Lose or Loose?

I’m sure you know the difference in meaning between these two words, but I see the wrong one written so frequently that I thought I might as well harangue you today:

LOSE means to misplace, be deprived of or cease to retain something. It rhymes with FUSE, MUSE and WOOS.

LOOSE is the opposite of tight. It rhymes with CABOOSE, GOOSE and JUICE. (Who said English spelling isn’t idiosyncratic?)

If you type one of these words, look at it carefully to be certain you have the word you want. That’s called proofreading; don’t just look to see that you spelled the word correctly. Determine that even though it is spelled right it is the word you need.

caboose

caboose (Photo credit: ravensong75)

 

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language