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ENGLISH-A VERY CONFUSING LANGUAGE

Updated on June 30, 2010

PARLOR GAME

The topic of the confusion resulting from the language of English is a very interesting topic. It is compounded in the difference between written and spoken version of English.

If I write the word “bass”, what comes to mind? Is it a type of fish or is a person with a deep voice. If the type of fish comes to mind then when you say the word bass most people will know to what you are referring. However if you say the word bass and mean a person with a deep voice then there is ample room for misunderstanding without context. Saying bass without context could cause one to assume you are talking about base. Bass and base are homonyms not synonyms. Base can mean a point of origin or a foundation, or a military installation, or something that is gross or degrading.

The word gross is also confusing. If the word “gross” is spoken, what comes to mind? Is the first thought as described above or do you think of 12 dozen? There are other definitions of gross as in gross income or prior to tax. Once again context is very important.

The word “tax” can also be very confusing. When the word tax is spoken what comes to mind. Do you think of a levy on income instituted by a government entity? Or do you think of another type of burden such as having one tax your patience? Once again context is very important.

The word “levy” is also very confusing. When the word levy is spoken what comes to mind? Do you think of a pile of dirt to hold back waves on a body of water? Or do you think of the context of tax as written above? Once again context is very important.

The word “wave” is also very confusing. When the word wave is spoken what comes to mind? Do you think of it as the compilation of water as referred to above? Or do you think of it as a means of saying farewell with your hand? Or if your older like me do you think of a female sailor in the US Navy? Once again context is very important.

The word “hand” can be very confusing. When the word hand is spoken what comes to mind? Do you think of an appendage at the end of your arm? Or do you think of playing cards? Once again context is very important.

The word “very” is very confusing. When the word very is spoken what comes to mind? Do you think of an extreme? Or do you think of (vary) the change between various data points, which is a variation? People who use mathematical formulae to calculate statistical variation are very smart.

Once again context is very important.

The word “smart” is very confusing. When the word smart is spoken what comes to mind? Do you think of intelligence? Or do you think of a twinge of pain? Along with context the tenor of your spoken word is also very important.

The word “tenor “ is very confusing. When the word tenor is spoken what comes to mind? Surly not bass, which takes us full circle.

Back in the day before TV, computers, video games, etc, etc, playing this parlor game with English was a very entertaining past time. You can come up with thousands of your own examples.

Please don't hesitate to share them.

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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      True. I think it is in a part these multiple meanings and spelling is what make the English language so interesting and in some ways useful. We have all experience these maning problems, especially in grade school

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      I would hate to try to learn English as a second language. The Romance languages (based on Latin) such a Spanish, French, Italian, Portugese,ect all have much more structure.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Tom, I enjoyed your hub. I haven't thought about a word game like that in a long time. I think TV may have started a downhill decline in education because no participation is required. How about Mind, Pretty, Bow and French beau. This is fun. I'll have to think of some more later.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Pamela,

      My Mom and Dad used to play this with me. I can be very educational. I was going to include the various itirations of bass and scale. I had to stop somewhere.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Pamela,

      If I say "bow". What do you think? A performer after a performance? How about a baugh on a tree? It also sounds like bowel.

    • ehern33 profile image

      ehern33 7 years ago

      Do you want to confuse me more than I already am? Great little hub here!!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Tom, it's good to see you writing again. I've read that English is a difficult language to learn for the very reasons you write about here. Nicely done! I enjoyed your Hub.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      ehern,

      The confusion factor of the English language is the point of the article.

      If I say "you" what comes to mind. Is it a personal pronoun meaning me or is it a female sheep.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      James,

      Thank you for your praise and your kind comment.

      If I say "write" what comes to mind? Is it a process of marked communication or is it the opposite of left?

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 7 years ago from florida

      Tom, it is true, English is confussing. When we came to America I spoke French and Hungarian, my father spoke 5 languages, and to this day he still has a hard time with English. Great Hub!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      jiberish,

      Thank you for your visit and your kind comment. English is hard enough then when you add slang and colloquials it really becomes more confusing.

      In many parts of the country if I say "poke"

      I could be talking about a punch or I could be talking about a bag.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      BOTH!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      RIGHT ON!!!

      WRITE ON?

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Correct

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Why, what's wrong?

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 7 years ago

      Great hub and context is important, My grandparents used to say they had hope someone do something ie, I hope Fred pull fodder and he is coming to help us gather ours.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Now I'm cofused. Robert are you saying the the pronouciation of hope and help were used interchangeably?

      This can happen with accents :D

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 7 years ago from Irl

      Love this hub,as in article ,not hub as in.....!You have made some very good points,as in opinion,not points as in....!

      Love this game,as in....!

      Genius.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      itakins,

      For your kind comment I must thank you, as in.......!

      itakins, not a female sheep. (8:D

    • Hannah Ministries profile image

      Hannah Ministries 7 years ago

      Hiep Hiep Hoera! That is Dutch for Welllll doneeeeee. I dedicated almost 10 years of my life in studying english and this Hub said it all in no time. VEry confusing lenguage indeed! thanks. I will keep reading.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Hannah Ministries,

      I've been trying to learn English for all of my 63 years, and I still find it a challenge. Thank you for your visit, and your comment.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Dear Tom,

      That's why they say that English is the most difficult language to learn. Isn't it amazing that people from all over the world are able to master it so well?

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Pop,

      You are certainly right about English being very difficult to learn. I have heard people who use English as a second language that put me to shame.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Dear Tom,

      I know isn't that so amazing. They apparently no how to teach a foreign language much better we do.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Pop,

      There are still a lot of good teachers like Sherisapp, but the NEA in general has lowered teaching standards. There are also too many uninvolved parents.

    • profile image

      Danny 7 years ago

      Hi all! English is the hardest language without a doubt!!! All the words and vocab it's such a messy messy language. Nobody can master English, wait i'm english I even don't understand why polish is polish and evening is evening and wtf!!! i give up with my own language

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Hi Danny,

      Welcome to my hub on the nuances of the English language. When you say polish do you mean Polish (shine or nationality?)? Good night to you sir.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      You've got me going now....I can think of lots [lots as in "many" or lots as in "land plots"?]

      When you think of the word "course" do you think of a track, units of study, a rough texture, crude behaviour or a confirmation...of course!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image
      Author

      Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Jane Bovary,

      You play this game well[as in skillfully or a place you get water?]

      Course depends on context of course. Then accents may enter and course my be pronounced as curse. Of curse you may wanna pay mama back the loan. She needs her assets back.

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