Last week's column, which listed a lot of English words that have double or triple meanings, got a lot of response. One in particular caught our fancy.
The reader who responded admitted that English is a crazy language.
He pointed out that 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, 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? 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.
And, he asks, why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is'UP.'
It's easy to understandUP,meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wakeUP?
At a meeting, why does a topic comeUP?
Why do we speakUPand why are the officersUPfor election and why is itUPto the secretary to writeUPa report?
We callUPour friends.
And we use it to brightenUPa room, polishUPthe silver; we warmUPthe leftovers and cleanUPthe kitchen.
We lockUPthe house and some guys fixUPthe old car.
At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stirUPtrouble, lineUPfor tickets, workUPan appetite, and thinkUPexcuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressedUPis special.
A drain must be openedUPbecause it is stoppedUP.
We openUPa store in the morning but we close itUPat night.
We seem to be pretty mixedUPaboutUP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses ofUP,look the word UPin the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takesUPalmost th of the page and can addUPto about 30 definitions.
If you areUPto it, you might try buildingUPa list of the many waysUPis used.
It will takeUPa lot of your time, but if you don't giveUP,you may windUPwith a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is cloudingUP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearingUP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes thingsUP.
When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dryUP.
He concludes, one could go on and on, but I'll wrap itUP,for now my time isUP, so........it is time to shutUP!