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8/2/2006 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

Here’s an old one that bears repeating from time to time.

This little treatise on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. It was passed on by a linguist, original author unknown.

Peruse at your leisure, English lovers.

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections, my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

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"?


No, I didn’t make it to the ND State Fair at Minot again this year.

As a matter of fact the only day I’ve had off this summer was Memorial Day. And most of Memorial Day was spent on Legion activities, including Legion bookkeeping.

I did take off a couple hours to take in the Esmond All-School Reunion parade. That’s it. I’ve been at the office seven days a week all summer long, 60 to 70 hours per week.

Poor me (whine, whine)!

I missed the Hawk Museum activities, the Sully’s Hill Birding and Nature Festival, Churchs Ferry Day and the ND Water Education Foundation’s Devils Lake tour in June. Activities missed in July included the Maddock Independence Day celebration, the Leeds All-School Reunion, the Esmond All-School Reunion, the Bluegrass Festival at the Cross Ranch, the air shows at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and Minot Air Force Base, the ND State Fair and the Warwick Centennial.

As consolation, I can say that business has been pretty good. I suppose that now all the activities are over, business will slack off and I’ll probably have time to spare, but not enough money to buy gas to get anywhere.

Poor me, again (whine, whine)!

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