English

I've complained about some other languages, and I've had a lot to say about one in particular, but there is one language I know of which is, in my opinion, worse than all others. When I think of all the ways to make a language difficult, this one has most of them, along with a few frustrating details that I would have never thought were possible if I hadn't seen it for myself.

Mabye you've already guessed that the language I'm talking about is English.

“If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.” - Doug Larson


The alphabet


The English alphabet has 26 letters — 5 vowels and 21 consonants — and none of them know what they sound like!

Each of the five vowels can be long or short, and there is usually nothing to indicate which is which in a given word. The e can also be a schwa, and it can also be placed at the end of a word where it makes no sound at all, but converts the previous vowel to a long sound. There are also several diphthongs, most of which can be pronounced at least two different ways: ai, au, ou, oo, ee, for example.

The consonants have a similar identity crisis. Sometimes a c sounds like an s and other times it sounds like a k. The g often sounds like a j. The letters k, b, g, h, and w are occasionally silent.

There are some strange digraphs, too. It's easy to recognize the need for ch and sh, since they produce new sounds, what what about ph, which sounds like f? Or gh, which is usually silent and indicates that the preceding vowel is long, but occasionally comes out like f?

Grammar


I have a very strong belief that the reason so many people complain about the topic of grammar is because the first grammar they tried to learn was English.

For instance, the formation of plurals. Car becomes cars, and box becomes boxes, but goose becomes geese, mouse becomes mice, and man becomes men. Boot becomes boots, but foot becomes feet! And speaking of plurals, why do women wear a pair of panties, but only a single brassiere?

Prepositions don't make much more sense. When looking at a list of numbers the total is at the bottom, but we say it adds up. Shouldn't it add down? The sun comes up and goes down, but prices go up and come down.

General nonsense


In English, you drive on a parkway, and you park on a driveway. When you transport something by car it's a shipment, but if you transport it by ship it's cargo.

Only in English would you have a device called a hot water heater — nobody else is trying to heat their hot water. And that little piece of glass in your door that lets you see who is knocking? It's called a door viewer, but most people have decided to call it a "peep hole", because there's really no reason to view a door.

Nothing means what you think it means. No one ever asks me to wait for anything. They just say "hang on". Hang on to what? When people say "heads up!" they really mean heads down. And they might tell you to "watch your head" or "watch your back", but you can't really do that, now, can you?

English may be easy to learn, but it's hard to understand... and nearly impossible to master. When compared to every other language I have learned about, English is — in my opinion — the worst language of all.

 

 

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