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PROPER ENGLISH

 

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 index, 2 indices?
 
   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 a 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 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.

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