English is a Crazy Language
English is a Crazy Language From: Charlie IndelicatoLet's face it – – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplantnor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffinsweren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats arecandies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find thatquicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig isneither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don'tgroce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't theplural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that youcomb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunchof odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preacher praught? If a vegetarian eatsvegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhapsyou bote your tongue? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylumfor the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play andplay at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses thatrun and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man andwise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, whilequite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hellone day and cold as hell another. Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they areabsent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met asung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone whowas combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all thosepeople who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your housecan burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it outand in which an alarm clock goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects thecreativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). Thatis why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights areout, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, butwhen I wind up this essay, I end it.