From: DALE DAY
Excerpts from "Crazy English" by Richard Lederer (Pocket Books 1989)
Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a
In the crazy English language, the blackbird hen is brown,
blackboards can be blue or green, and blackberries are green and then red before they are ripe. Even if blackberries were really black and blueberries really blue, what are strawberries, cranberries, elderberries, huckleberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and gooseberries supposed to look like?
To add to the insanity, there is no butter in buttermilk, no egg in
eggplant, neither worms nor wood in wormwood, neither pine nor apple in pineapple, and no ham in a hamburger. (In fact, if somebody invented a sandwich consisting of a ham patty in a bun, we would have a hard time finding a name for it.) To make matters worse, English muffins weren't invented in England, french fries in France, or Danish pastries in Denmark. And we discover even more culinary madness in the revelations that sweet- meat is made from fruit, while sweetbread, which isn't sweet, is made from meat.
In this unreliable English tongue, greyhounds aren't always grey (or
gray), ladybugs and fireflies are beetles, a panda bear is a raccoon, a koala bear is a maruspial, a guinea pig is neither a pig nor from Guinea, and a titmouse is neither mammal nor mammaried. …
Why is it that a woman can man a station but a man can't woman one,
that a man can father a movement but a woman can't mother one, and that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn't rule a queendom? How did all those Renaissance men reproduce when there doesn't seem to have been any Reniassance women?
A writer is someone who writes, and a stinger is something that stings.
But fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, hammers don't ham, and hum- dingers don't hum. If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn't the plural of booth be beeth? One goose, two geese - so one moose, two meese? One index, two indices - one Kleenex, two Klennices? If people ring a bell today and rang a bell yesterday, why don't we say that they flang a ball? If they wrote a letter perhaps they also bote their tongue. If the teacher taught, why isn't it also true that the preacher praught? Why is it that the sun shone yesterday while I shined my shoes, that I treaded water and then trod on soil, and that I flew out to see a World Series game in which my favorite player flied out?
<And we wonder why others find English so hard to learn?> Again, courtesy of my wife's English teacher, Mr. Gomez
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