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Oddities of English

Updated on December 28, 2007

Our Funny Language

In a previous Hub I reprinted a joke involving a misunderstanding over a single word. Here are some more oddities of the English language that a friend found and forwarded to me. If these don't make sense at first, try reading them out loud.

Can you read these right the first time?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

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    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I cannot believe the needless rudeness and vitriolic comments that this interesting hub has produced. If this had been one of my first postings on HP I think I would have given up and moved on.

      Just as a matter of interest: "When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes." does not travel across the Atlantic, as the past tense of "dive" is "dived".

    • profile image

      spelling practice 7 years ago

      So there are words with more senses.. this is perfectly normal, many languages have that.

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Great article, I teach English in Italy and am always getting questions about how strange the English language is, now I can add to their confusion and love of our great and diverse tongue.

    • profile image

      Bedava 10 years ago

      You know i sat here for 10 minutes just reading through this page and comments and laughed at how funny some of these sound its hilarious, then i again i never mastered the whole their and there differences LOL

    • profile image

      Adrian 10 years ago

      Wun-wun was a racehorse.

      Tutu was one too

      Wun-wun won one race one day

      And Tutu won one too

    • profile image

      Armin 10 years ago

      You can also try:

      He was reading some news about Reading

      (Reading is a town in Berkshire, England)

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

    • profile image

      Patrick 10 years ago

      I agree that this is mostly dumb, as they most follow the same English rules for accenting nouns and verbs.

      Quick google for some grammar "rules".

      http://www.translationdirectory.com/article822.htm

    • profile image

      dylan 10 years ago

      in the grammer exam jimmy, where david had had "had," had had "had had." "Had had" had had the examiners' approval.a sign [smith and son]"no no'" said mr smith, shaking his head, "there need to be a bigger gap better 'smith' and 'and', and 'and' and 'son'"

    • profile image

      internet 10 years ago

      what a stupid list you idiot. get off the internet

    • profile image

      television online 10 years ago

      really good list, but some are understandable. ...actually most are.

    • profile image

      princessperky 10 years ago

      I very much enjoyed the list and wanted to share but due to the nature of the ads (for ebay, poster of girl in bra) I am unwilling to include a link when sending to children/teens.

    • profile image

      noah shepherd 10 years ago

      19) I had to subject the subject to a series of subjects

    • profile image

      XPFalcon 10 years ago

      Don't forget if you are in Australia you need to, when you find a still standing tree:

      Chop the tree down, so that you might chop the tree up.

    • profile image

      krishna109 10 years ago

      I ken reed thease write thuh furst thyme, butt rite nough I will wright thehm doun.

    • profile image

      Luis 10 years ago

      Re: Woemwood

      "English writer and Poet Shakespear, was ask on his dead-bed, whether he had a last whish, so he said, please change your spelling syustem, write as you speak, and speak eas you write, if the pronunciation of the alphabet would be fixed as it is for other languages, then there would be less confusion, in writing and reading, and would make the English more suitable as a world language."

      First of all, English has progressed a lot since Shakespeare's death. Secondly, if he had made that statement, which I doubt he even did, then he would be wrong. Let's look at parts of this statement...

      "...whether he had a last whish, so he said, please change your spelling syustem, write as you speak, and speak eas you write..."

      Are you trying to spell out how he would have pronounced these words, such as writing out aspiration for "wish" as "whish?" I doubt you are, since there are ambiguous pronunciations all over the place. I'll assume that you just didn't proofread what you wrote.

      "write as you speak, and speak eas you write"

      This doesn't work. Firstly, whose pronunciation of words would we use? Would we use a northern dialect, southern dialect, appalachian dialect, urban dialect?

      "if the pronunciation of the alphabet would be fixed as it is for other languages, then there would be less confusion, in writing and reading, and would make the English more suitable as a world language."

      Pronouncing the alphabet? How would this help make English a more suitable world language?

    • profile image

      Panini 10 years ago

      The doctor was very patient with his patient

    • Chuck profile image
      Author

      Chuck Nugent 10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for the comments and and additions to the twenty examples that I cited. As I stated at the beginning, this collection of 20 English language oddities is not something that I created, but was one of those things that friends and co-workers like to forward to everyone in their email address book. Since it was amusing, I decided to share it here.

      English is a great and robust language, but it is also democratic in that it has evolved through use and it is the speakers of the language who set the rules and definitions of words, which are sometimes contradictory. This is in contrast to languages, like French or Spanish, in which words can only officially enter the language after being approved by their respective academies which meet periodically. Yes, I know that in many cases speakers in those languages begin using a new word and the Academy votes to accept the word - but the difference remains that, in English, we just create and use new words and it is left to those who use the language to either accept and use the new word or meaning or shun it. Approval does not rest with an appointed commission.

      Thanks again and continue to feel free to add any other examples while having a good laugh with this.

      Chuck

    • profile image

      Betterone 10 years ago

      Baffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

      1. A city in New York.

      2. Any of several large wild oxen of the family Bovidae.

      3. A city in New York.

      4. Any of several large wild oxen of the family Bovidae.

      5. To puzzle or baffle.

      6. To puzzle or baffle.

      7. A city in New York.

      8. Any of several large wild oxen of the family Bovidae.

    • profile image

      Warren Bakay 10 years ago

      No sentence with minute(small) and minute(time)?  How about:  The minute hand on her watch was quite minute.

    • profile image

      dave's not here 10 years ago

      If you really want to have fun with buffalo, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_buffa...

    • profile image

      autoglitch 10 years ago

      Buffalo buffalo to buffalo and buffalo other buffalo.

      1. Any of several large wild oxen of the family Bovidae

      2. a shuffling tap-dannce step.

      3. To puzzle or baffle.

      4. To impress or intimidate by a display of power.

      5. Any of several large wild oxen of the family Bovidae

    • profile image

      j_search 10 years ago

      Then running spellcheck.

    • profile image

      Alex 10 years ago

      It's time we got with the times and added accents to our language.

    • profile image

      j_search 10 years ago

      Just wanted to say hi, before I resume writing my resume.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 10 years ago from Scotland

      lol chuck you have a way with words...jimmy

    • Woemwood profile image

      Woemwood 10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      English writer and Poet Shakespear, was ask on his dead-bed, whether he had a last whish, so he said, please change your spelling syustem, write as you speak, and speak eas you write, if the pronunciation of the alphabet would be fixed as it is for other languages, then there would be less confusion, in writing and reading, and would make the English more suitable as a world language.