Article English, a Crazy Language Indeed!


For my first blog post this year I thought I'd provide you with a couple of light-hearted and entertaining looks at the English language. The first shows you just how confusing the language can sometimes be, whilst the second demonstrates why some suggest that English spelling should be reformed.

English is a Crazy Language

This piece by Richard Lederer is very famous.  For me it is a perfect demonstration of why people get so confused with this complex language - here's a sample from it, but be sure to read the full version of English is a Crazy Language on his site:

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, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese... One blouse, 2 blice?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? 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? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

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? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a "slim chance" and a "fat chance" be the same, while a "wise man" and "wise guy" are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while "quite a lot" and "quite a few" are alike? How can the weather be "hot as hell" one day and "cold as hell" another?

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people 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 house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't 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 why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?

Now I know why I flunked my English. It's not my fault, the silly language doesn't quite know whether it's coming or going.

English spelling is dumb!

According to 103-year-old Ed Rondthaler, English spelling is dumb!  He's one of a number of people who advocate reform for English spelling, and looking at this video he's produced it's hard to disagree:

If you would like to find out more about English spelling reform, check out these links for more information:

Is English a crazy language? Do you agree or disagree with spelling reform? Do let us know what you think in the comments.

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hello sir,
compliment of the season i see the same, what i ned ,to due for me is that
1. How to peak correct english
2. write correct english
3. vocabulary grammar
4. correct spelling

i adore what u r doing with english!! its gr8 how u r helping us to consider it an easy ,funny and exceptional language!!

I agree with English being a tough language to learn. Sometimes I wonder if the English language was created for just the sake of communicating!? Anyhow, it is one of the most dominate languages on this planet, why expend energy fighting it?

Thanks Red..a very intersting article. Do keep providing such links.

thanks red...i like your article. It's realy intersting.

Are you tired of supporting the ambivalent nature of our government towards making English our official language?

Consider this:

1. Several states allow drivers licenses, official government documents and even voting to be conducted in languages other than English.

It's not so much that the states allow it, but more appalling that they condone and make immigrants "lazy" by making things easier for them. So is political correctness appropriate? Is it tolerable that our government thrives on making things easier for immigrants?

1. The federal government continues to fund classes for students with limited English proficiency even though research dictates that these children don't necessarily improve their language skills. The fact that the classes are conducted primarily in their native language and very little English is indoctrinated in the curriculum is an injustice if not a crime.

In my opinion, the federal government and the local school systems count on the millions of discretionary dollars because these dollars can be used on other things than just the LEP classes. So think about it, if the number of students enrolled in LEP is lowered or if these students "actually" do learn English, then the dollars dry up.

2. Why should current generations of immigrants have it easier than it was for generations of previous immigrants? My parents and I arrived in the US at age of three and my parents knew that (1) we needed to assimilate; (2) they needed to work in whatever job was available; (3) we needed to learn the culture, heritage and history of the United States of America; (4) we needed to learn English to survive in our new country.

3. I am an immigrant and I am proud to have been able to come to this country for a better life. I can proudly say that my parents never sought or expected any assistance from the government. They worked hard and long hours to have the "little" we had to make it.

Why is it that current immigrants come to the US and "some" of them think it is a right to receive financial assistance from the government?

Understanding that as one gets older, it is difficult to learn a new language. However, with the many churches and not for profit organizations available that teach English, why is it that non-English speakers take a back seat and just give up when it comes to rolling up their sleeves to learn English.

In closing:

(A) The privilege to drive in our country is just that-a privilege. It is not a right or an expectation. Logical sense and a reasonably minded would believe that English should be known to take the drivers license examination. It is unacceptable for a person getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to test for said license in a language other than English merely to make it "easier" for them to get a license. If that holds true, then the family of any human being killed by another human being who was licensed to drive and who took said exam in another language than English, should be able to file suit for negligence on the basis that said person caused the death because of their lack of English.

(B) Aside from the associated costs (at taxpayer's expense) of providing translators and translating official documents, the emphasis by federal, state and local governments of providing or making it "easier" for immigrants to conduct official business is a major setback for these people to advance or make it in our country.

I strongly believe that "ALL" official business in this country at "ALL" levels of government must be done in English. Providing translators and translated documents only exacerbates the difficulty of learning English. Additionally, it creates a "false" sense of not having to learn English. Why would anyone have a need or desire to learn English in our country if the government provides translators and translated documents.

(C) Perhaps the most important and sacred right we as Americans experience is voting. Yes, politics is dirty, tricky, often corrupt, but it is the best form of government selection there is known to mankind. So as one of the most sacred actions we as Americans exercise, why would that exercise be allowed in any language than English?

It is unconscionable to grant that right to someone in our country and allow him or her to vote in a language other than English.

If you agree that the status quo of letting people take a drivers license test in many languages, giving people the choice of getting official documents in many languages or letting people vote in many languages, then don't do anything.

However, if you agree with my three points, then please join me on my Blog and the efforts to make English our official language.

Please visit my Blog at to learn more and to spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues.

In order to preserve America's heritage and acknowledge and respect the sacrifices made by countless Americans before us to give us liberty, freedom and prosperity, please take a stand and join my Blog.

Thank you,

Eddie V Garcia

Hi. I come from Bulgaria and I've been learning English for 13 years. I agree with the comments above and I like this article a lot. In my opinion the language is really crazy but if you want to learn it you would be able to do it. ( I'm sorry if I have any mistaces)

English is a crazy language indeed!!! I am a Filipino and I have been studying and speaking English for almost 32 years now but I haven't perfected it yet.

I cannot believe that I have come across this blog today as I was only speaking about this earlier. We were talking on a similar line that when somebody mentioned that when you have one sheep you don't have two sheeps? But when you have more than one dog it changes to dogs, similarly when you have more than one fish it doesn't change to fishes, you say that you have one fish, or two fish or three fish etc. However in the bible I am sure I read that Jesus fed the five thousand with bread and fishes? So does that mean that the English Language has changed over time and so may continue to change? I found this blog really interesting as I am currently studying A-Level English Lang/Lit!

Simon Tam
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 4:42:02 PM
Subject: English study makes easy- a five steps guide to success

According to recollection, my English language experience was a back to back chapters of horrid story last well into my adulthood. English frightened me. Since the day I picked up English language, I suffered as one might say, a classic case of English language phobia. To my dismay, learning English was not a luxurious, but out of necessity that I had no place to hide. Since Hong Kong was a colony under the British sovereign, the official language was English. It was the basic survival kit to be proficiency in English. In retrospect, when I reassessed of my growing up English learning experiences they were full of worries, frustration and downright unpleasant. Most English instructors as I saw them help aggravated my problem. They were, as I found out later in life, their qualifications were questionable and their methodology were problematic. To make matter worst, they were outright critical of your shortcomings. As I vividly remembered, one English teacher, a female teacher with a bull dog face structure, ceaselessly singled out student like me with poor English showings in front of my peers throughout her class sessions. With combination of internal and external factors, such as lack of talents and teacher's discouragement, my English subject always ended up red on my report card. When it came to English, I was a miserable failure. I wished I never had to encounter those alphabet letters. They were some twenty-six little worms waiting for an opportunity to eat my soul and spirit alive. In time, I strike back, I did get my sweet revenge when I drank my alphabets Campbell soup, I chewed on those twenty-six little monsters hard with my sharp teeth and flushed them all out of my system afterward. Finally, to add insult on my injury, the American consulate, unimpressed by my dismal TOEFL scores, delivered a stern lecture that I should put my full time emphasis on learning English. Not till then, she reluctantly approved my visa to attain college in US.

Since then, my English learning experience improved tremendously. I rediscovered my English learning potential. I seized every opportunities to read, write and exchanged conversations with my female friends. It opened the door for me not only increased my English speaking ability but also lived in an active love connection social life. Love always has been my universal language. Who cares what language you spoken on your moaning and groaning as long as we were fully enjoyed each other.

To my amusement, I came out from my shell and gradually shored up my motivation to learn English. My old English scare of wound eventually healed and found no traces of hangover. I kept my devotion to English learning even after graduation. Belief in learning is a life time pursuit, I hung in there tough. Like the old saying, if you do not use it, you loss it. It is never too late to better yourself regardless of your age time-frame. Your mind might not be as absorptive as those young sponges. But with enough reinforcement and dedication, you will come out just as successful as those young bright minds.

Needless to say, learning English or any foreign language is not an easy task. In fact, my past experience reinforced that notion. The road to learn is never the same individually, it factors into your education background, your up-bringing, your priority and your time allotment. Overtime, my mission was to overcome those tall hurdles ahead of me and paved the way for better navigation. I would not dare to say I have accomplished some sort of achievement, but I venture to assess my performance that, I am doing a mighty good job under the consideration of my humble childhood English learning encounters. Besides, I love writing, writing is my passion. Given time, I firmly believe I will raise the bar to a higher level of my English proficiency.

Through trail and error with experimental as a backdrop, I come up with a blueprint to make English learning into a more effective manner. To learn English, one does not has to possess a brain like Einstein, a little persistence and an unyielding commitment can go a long way. Your agenda to learn can be easily blended into your everyday life. All you need is to pay a little attention to your surroundings and create your own learning environment. It will never hinder your daily life pursuit, and you will amaze how much improvement you would attain even in a relatively short period of time. Decades past since I have used the five strategies to tackle the English language. My English ability took a great leap forward in all categories.To study, to read, to listen, to speak and to write are the five rules of thumb that I will follow ritually. The presentation that I am about to put forth might benefit readers who need some guidelines to enhance their English proficiency.

The best way to build a sound foundation in any field of knowledge is to study from the ground up. In English language, there are certain rules, such as grammar, spelling and pronunciation needed to be addressed and memorized. A good application to this rules raises your English standard and pave the way for your future studies. It is worthwhile to borrow your children or your grand-kids grammar book to refresh you memory.

Reading is most crucial in your exploration of English language. There were millions of excellent books and writings out there in paper form or through the wires written in English that you can glance through. Reading a well written book is very educational, quiet entertaining and stimulating. Reading is the best form of learning that money can buy. The only side effect in reading is, it can sometimes make you sleepy and drowsiness. Do not read a book while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. The highway patrol might snap you a ticket for DUI (driving under the influence).

Listen to native English speaking people talks will definitely jump start your ability to learn English language. TV is a fantastic tool to help you in this category. For a starter, watch the news on TV channel. It is a less painful way to learn English.. You might miss some of the essence to begin with. But by far it is the most sensational feeling you will ever encountered. So next time when you decide to watch an English movie on your DVD, sap the sub-title function on your remote control You will never pick up the language if you are busy reading the sub-title.

After you are fully charged with the necessary backgrounds in your English learning. It is time for you to fire the ammunition you learned . A perfect timing is to express yourself by speaking out. Practice does make perfect. The more you talk the better off you will be. Yourself should try to speak clearly and distinguishably. Pace yourself and do not rush while engaging conversation with others. Speaking a foreign language bounds to carry some sort of accent. But the accent will not pose a threat or as a liability against you to become an exceptional great speaker. Who knows, someday, you might even end up as a professional motivational speaker.

Writing may be consider the ultimate test of your language proficiency. To convert your thinking into hard forms sometimes might turn out to be a bombshell and a mind blowing endeavor. To express yourself in writing, your trend of thought should be at least logical. Every wording should be in place and come in naturally and simultaneously. The easier way to keep up with your writing potential is to be consistently put yourself in a writing mode. Keep a journal to yourself and write down your daily special events. You could jolt down whatever bright ideas that come up with on your everyday life and unitize them in your future writings. You will be amaze how much improvement you attain on your writing ability over time.

To master a foreign language in some cases look seemingly impossible. But with much will power and sheer determination, you can accomplish extraordinary result. Great journey always starts with many small steps in the right direction. I am sure someday,
yours achievement in English language will out-shine all the stars in the sky.

From Simon

I am Looking to learn english grammer for intermadte leve

English is confusing at times! Best to approach with an open mind and a sense of humor. Idioms can be particularly fun to explore.

thanks to British adventurous ancestors,they conquered many places as their colonies especially north america.

I gree with that: sense of humor. But which is correct? Tickling, ticklish or tickled before a word blog? I've been using this for 4 years, but not sure yet up to now. Thanks.

They're all correct words- it depends on the context. A person who is ticklish will laugh easily if someone tickles them. 'Tickled' can be used to mean that someone is amused by something.

Hi Simon,

Yes, English is a crazy language but it is a key to explore things around the world & to understand different culture and thoughts.

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