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Problems With The English Language

Updated on October 10, 2017
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.

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English and learning another language

I was inspired to write about the interesting problems that arise with different languages by another author who wrote on his experiences living in another country for a time. Anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language knows that it takes time to get the vocabulary, inflections and pronunciations correct. Some of the funniest incidents can happen when you are off by just one letter or inflection.

English History

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Castilian Spanish in Spain

I grew up in California and as this state is filled with a long and rich Mexican history, I took a year of Spanish in school. Then when my first husband and I were sent to Spain, I thought, not a problem. I think I remember some of my high school Spanish. What I didn’t realize was that the Spanish I learned in California was a Mexican dialect of Spanish and not the more Castilian Spain Spanish. Right away I was in trouble. The first time I went to the market I found out just how different the language sounded in Spain. I figured if I couldn’t keep a conversation going, I could at least pay for my purchases because I remembered all my numbers. When the man behind the counter asked for “Onthey” pesetas I was absolutely lost. I went through all the numbers in my head and there wasn’t an “onthey” in the list anywhere. So like a clueless woman I handed him all my money and he picked out eleven pesetas. That’s the first time I figured that they don’t use the “s” sound in Spain. I blushed a charming shade of scarlet and the man was amused.

The second time I was painfully aware that I was in over my head was with the cleaning lady. After two weeks, I decided I had walked past her up to my apartment long enough, so I stopped and introduced myself and asked her name. Well, I THOUGHT I asked her name. Apparently I didn’t get the wording correct for Spain. In California, the informal “What are you called?” was plenty to get someone’s name, but not in Spain. She thought I was asking for Spanish instruction so she told me what the broom in her hand was called, and the mop and the bucket. I thanked her and went home. I didn’t try that again for quite a while.

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“Failure is success if we learn from it.”

— Malcomb Forbes
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The Gentle Breeze

Another funny story didn’t happen to me but to a friend. My artist friend is award winning Chinese brush painter. She even spent many months learning from the masters in China. She noticed that when she entered a contest in China under the American name, she didn’t win much but when she entered the same contest having signed with the Chinese characters of her name she won, often first place.

With that in mind she decided to get a special signature stamp made. She wanted to get a stamp for her studio as well. She has a studio in the foothills of California that she calls Gentle Breeze Studio. When she asked her friend in China to translate and make a stamp for Gentle Breeze Studio as well as to translate her name to Joy Gentle Breeze, he fell silent. Then he said she wouldn’t like that name. Why not? Because in Chinese a gentle breeze is a fart.

“I am always ready to learn, but I do not always like being taught.”

— Winston Churchill
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Sushi

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La Fish

When I was a preteen, a sweet young lady and her husband moved next door to us. She was a dear woman from Japan. Her husband had to work odd hours and she was a very lonely new bride, and my sister and I were very nosey. That made us the perfect match. We came over to her home often and she taught us many Japanese words. As a matter of fact I can still say “I don’t know how to speak Japanese” in flawless Japanese. My friend had a sense of humor.

As much as she taught us, she wanted to learn more English and wanted practice from us to be able to speak it better. She had a special “New Word” binder that she would pull out and write down new words whenever she heard them so she could remember them and how to pronounce them.

One day she told us she was going to prepare a special Japanese delicacy for us. I remember she named it but we were clueless at the time, so she explained that it was “la fish.” We still didn’t understand what “la fish” could be until it dawned on us that she meant RAW fish. My sister and I looked at each other, eyes as big as saucers and in unison, said “YUCK”. My friend got very excited, grabbed her binder and carefully wrote “ayuck,” then turned to us and said, “you explain.” We really had no idea how to tactfully explain a slang word like that without totally hurting her feelings. I know I felt bad for having said it.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

— Henry Ford
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Learning a Foreign Language

A mother mouse and her son were walking along when out of nowhere a cat jumped out at them. The little mouse was very frightened but the mother stepped up and said, “Bark! Bark, bark, bark!” The cat was taken aback and turned to run away. Then the mother turned to her son and said, “You see, son? Never underestimate the importance of learning a foreign language!”

Words to live by.

Chalupa

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Chalupa

I taught watercolor lessons to the elderly in my city for many years. Many of my students were Hispanic and didn’t know much English. So to accommodate my elders, I would come as prepared as possible with the words for the currently painting memorized. At one point I went to college to take a special class in conversational Spanish. The dear instructor went from student to student asked what specialty they worked in and what kind of conversations we needed Spanish for. I thought this was so kind because getting vocabulary for painting fine art wasn’t something you ran into in every day conversations. She taught me the correct words for the watercolor paper, brushes, paints and colors. I was overjoyed… until I tried using my new knowledge. Most of the Spanish-speaking dears I had in my classes didn’t know what I was saying. The word for the small, delicate watercolor brush is “el pincel” but since these people had never been around that word they thought I was making it up. They knew only “la brocha” which described a large 4-inch house painting brush. That is something they had come across in life, not a “pincel.” This happened with so many of the new vocabulary words I learned I gave up and used the colloquial vernaculars.

One day I had prepared an Native American in a canoe to paint. Before going to the classes I looked up “canoe” in the Spanish-English dictionary so I could tell my people what to paint and what color. Canoe was listed as “canoa.” Oh, wonderful, I thought, that should be easy to remember, and went off with confidence. When I got there I told everyone the canoa was to be painted a tan color and got stopped dead in my tracks. “Canoa,” they laughed. That’s not a canoa! That’s a boata.” “Boata,” another on chimed it, “That’s slang, not even Spanish. It’s a chalupa!” Now I was confused. “Chalupa,” I asked. “Like Taco Bell?” I mean that’s the only chalupa I ever heard about. And they all laughed. I think more than liking to paint, they all came back because I amused them butchering their language so badly.

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you.”

— Author Unknown

Bad words... oh no!

I learned a few bad words, more than I would like to, totally by accident. One day, I brought a painting of a landscape with a garden path and flowers to paint. We all began together painting the sky and the hills and then moved to the flowers, which should have been pink and blue. I could tell one of my ladies was having some trouble because she was grumbling under her breath. Finally in English, she told me I had to come help her with this “insert unknown Spanish word.” I repeated the word. It sounded flowery to me… that is, if you go by sounds and not meanings. I thought she wanted help with the flowers. She had mixed two colors that you shouldn’t mix and they turned brown on her. The more she smeared them brown around the bigger it got until she called for my help. I saw the problem but still thought we were talking about flowers except each time I repeated the word the other ladies laughed, until finally I asked what it meant. She thought for a minute and finally said, “ummmm, chit!” Oh, okay. Suddenly the brown and the word made more sense. Do I feel dumb?

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One Language

Do you think the world would be better off if we all spoke one language?

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German in-law and The Compost heap

While visiting my German in-law in Frankfurt, Germany, I was helping prepare a salad for dinner. Their home was on the second floor and the window was open allowing a lovely spring breeze into the kitchen. After washing the lettuce and pealing off the outer leaves, I began tearing the salad into the bowl. Klaus, my brother-in-law came behind me, grabbed the discarded outer leaves and threw them out the window. Well, this I had to see so I went over to the window and looked down. On the ground behind the house was a healthy sized compost heap. I grew up in the country on a farm and knew all about keeping the soil enriched by composting. Klaus asked me in English if I knew what that was. I guess he thought he was going to teach me something about farming. I said, of course, it’s a compost heap. He lit up and exclaimed that I knew German. No, I assured him, that’s English. We spent the next half hour arguing on whether or not a word I had been using all my English speaking life was or was not English. I don’t think we ever agreed.

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Short History of the English Language

However I do know that English is a language of many languages. In the early years in England, the island was inhabited by the Celtic people known as the Britons. The Roman conquest went from AD 43 to around the 5th century. With them they brought an influx of Latin words and derivatives. It is believed that 60% of the English language is derived from Latin. Words include, villa, alta, land, (terra), first (prima), bona, province (provincia), agriculture (Agricola), figure (figura), flame, (flamma), sea (maritime), me (mea), dark (obscura), and dangerous (periculosa).

“Being ignorant is not so shameful as being unwilling to learn.”

— Author Unknown
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Anglo Saxons

The Anglo-Saxons were next to come and were a collection of various Germanic peoples. They are considered responsible for the Old English language to a great extent. Words include hamburger (a sandwich with a meat patty and garnish), kindergarten (literally a child’s garden), nix (or nothing), uber (meaning over), wanderlust (the yearning to travel), fife (a small flute), quartz, and stein (a beer mug).

Raids by Vikings and Danes became more frequent around AD 800, who came and stayed. With them they brought a new vocabulary of Scandinavian words and after a hundred years or so, it sort of got incorporated into the local conversation. Words like lug (to haul), cog, flounder, hug, mink, nudge, snug, spry, and wicker. Words derived from the Old Norse origin include, ado, aloft, awe, berserk (a frenzied warrior), bulk, bylaw (a village law), cast (to throw), die (pass away), girth (circumference), husband (master of the house), knife, knot, lad (young man), muck (cow dung), odd (third number), scathe (to hurt, injure), skull (head), sleight, sleuth (trail), Thursday (Thor’s day), thwart (across), Viking, (one who came from the fjords), and want (to lack).

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The Normans

In the 11th century, the Normans invaded and also brought their culture and language. While the Normans were the ruling power and the Saxons were the working class, food raised by the Saxons was cooked and served by Norman chefs. This explains why when it is walking around chewing cud, it’s a cow or cattle, but when it is cooked it is beef (an Anglicized version of the old French word beuf). The same with a calf, which when cooked becomes veal (from the old French word veel) When it is walking around it is chicken but when it is cooked it is poultry (another Anglicized version of the French word poulet). When it is rooting around it is a pig or swine but when it is cooked it is pork (Anglicized from the French word porcine). When grazing it is a sheep or lamb, when cooked it becomes mutton (from the old French word muton). When Robin Hood shot it with an arrow, it was deer, but when cooked it became venison (from the old French word venesoun).

More words derived from the old French are the following:

English
Old French derivative
Thinking, mindful
pensive
Kingly
royal
Brotherly
fraternal
Ask, beseech
enquire
Lord
liege
Amaze, stun
astound
Fair, fair-haired
blond/blonde
Ghost
phantom
Smell, stench
odor
Blossom
flower
Buy
purchase
Belief
faith
Selfhood
identity
Weep, sob
cry
Lawyer
attorney
Harbor
port
Answer
reply, response
Fall, harvest
autumn
Seethe
boil
Wisdom
prudence
Uncouth
rude
Belongings
property
Forgive
pardon
Folk
people
Span
distance
Freedom
liberty

English Settlers

The English language came with the settlers in American and that brought on many new changes in the language and vernacular, not to mention the changes from Australia and other English speaking countries. A shift in meanings added new problems to an already conglomerated language. This only explains some of the many problems with English as a language.

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Hispanic Accents

My first husband was born in Bolivia and had a charming accent. I loved to hear him speak but I often got amused with his wording. When we were first dating, he would come to my parent’s home and we would sit out on the porch and watch the cows in the pasture across the road. I think, like me, he grew up watching too many westerns. One day he looked across the road to the pasture and said he thought he would wrestle a cow. Of course there is a big difference between wrestling and rustling a cow but a small one in pronunciation. I knew he meant rustling, not wrestling. I tickled me however, and I erupted in a fit of giggles picturing him arm wrestling a cow.

After we were married and got word that we were moving to Spain, he tried to convince me that is was safer in Spain that in all the US. Why? Because in Spain the streets are all eliminated at night. I thought that must be very hard to roll up the streets each night. In fact, he was partly right. The streets do seem to be illuminated at night.

One of the funniest things though, was when he sent me to the store for some paper toilet. I felt sure a paper toilet would only be good for one flush, but he was not amused.

“As long as one keeps searching, the answers come.”

— Baez
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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 13 months ago from Fresno CA

      Millie,

      Thank you Millie. I appreciate your comment.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      Millie 13 months ago

      This is a very good website

      your blessing

      Millie

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      JoJo Yousef,

      Thank you so much for visiting. I appreciate the vote.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Jojo Yousef profile image

      Jomana H 2 years ago

      Great hub , Voted up

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you for the comment and the vote.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing this interesting tale with us, Denise! Voted up!

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Susan,

      Long time, no hear from you. Good to see you again, I'm glad I could give you some chuckles.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Thanks for the chuckles! I love reading your anecdotes. Language definitely can be challenging. It certainly helps to have a sense of humor!

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      CorneliaMladenova,

      I so understand. It's a good thing to laugh, we all have misunderstandings and mistakes in language.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • CorneliaMladenova profile image

      Korneliya Yonkova 2 years ago from Cork, Ireland

      Great hub. I laughed a lot and remember how many misunderstandings I have caused with my BEnglish (Bulgarian English) :D

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence01, sounds amazing. I'll have to try that. Thank your gracious wife for me.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Rangoon House, Do share! I'd love to hear your amusing stories. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I checked with my resident master chef ( my wife is amazing in the kitchen) She said if you chop a cooked sausage and mix it with the Yorkshire pudding dough you get another English classic 'Toad in the hole ' and that is savoury

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 2 years ago from Australia

      This was enjoyable reading - I have had the pleasure of "playing" with a few new languages as a resident in foreign countries, and can recall as many amusing stories about inappropriate usage when living as an English speaker in another English speaking country.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      annart,

      Thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad we can be amused by our languages.

      Blessings

      Denise

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      An amusing read. It is funny when words of languages are misunderstood or mis-pronounced. I've come across a few in French and our French friends have trouble with many of our English words.

      One of the funniest mis-pronunciations was when I taught foreign students. A Swiss girl said she had to buy some 'raping paper' (she meant wrapping paper of course); when I explained what she'd actually said, she burst out laughing. At least she took it well!

      Lots of good stories here.

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Well, thank you Lawrence! I'll look into that.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I just checked the net and there's a good recipe using just plain flour, eggs and something to smear the pan (cooking oil) on,the BBC good food site. I found it just typing 'Yorkshire pudding' into Google

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence01,

      Thanks, I didn't know that. I learned something new today. All the recipes I have seen say to bake them with roast drippings poured over the top. But if you can make it without, I may try it sometime.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Not the ones I've eaten! They're basically a pancake mix rolled into a ball, slightly flattened and cooked in the oven.

      There may be a recipe for Yorkshire pudding using dripping but I never heard of it (mind you I'm originally from Cheshire which is basically a foreign country to most yorkshiremen, wrong side of the pennies)

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      lawrence01,

      Isn't Yorkshire pudding made with meat? or meat drippings? I always wondered about how that could be considered a dessert... or a pudding for that matter. But then I'm American and far removed from the traditional British dishes. Sorry.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      GrimRascal,

      So true. We understand music and art at a more basic level so it needs little in the way of translation. I find the Scottish pipes to be haunting and communicative, like a ghost from my ancestors of the past trying to tell me something. Thanks for the comment.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      And remember in Yorkshire the Yorkshire pudding is a dessert!!

    • GrimRascal profile image

      GrimRascal 2 years ago from Overlord's Castle

      Language can be so complicated at times but its not restricted to verbal language. Sign language and music are also languages...I think...and they're more universal. :D

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      alancaster149,

      I haven't a clue. What does it mean?

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      As a native English speaker you have automatic licence to butcher the lingo, outsiders have to apply in triplicate at the consulate.

      Did you work out what the last line was about?

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you Lawrence01, so glad to be amusing for you.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Really loved these stories. They put a 'smile on the dial '

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Favored,

      So true. It's a wonder English speaking people can understand English speaking people at all.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Sometimes I wonder how anyone can understand the English language with so many words meaning the same thing and the slang. Really interesting article and thoughts.

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      alancaster149,

      Thank you so much for the history lesson. I of course, simplified my little run down but I knew I could have some things wrong.. I'm nothing more than a "colonist" after all. Oh and the things we did to butcher the English language... well, what can I say? My ancestry goes back mostly to Scotland, a descendant of Sir Beardy Scott, and Switzerland of the Swiss Bullingers. So about English, I know only what I read... um... and speak. Such as it is.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Social Thoughts,

      Thank you so much. I'm glad I amused you.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Kevin,

      I appreciate that so much. I think it is funny too. The history makes it even educational.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Larry Rankin,

      Thank you so much for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Anne Harrison,

      Thanks. I think so too.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Rachel,

      Thank you for that cute story. It is funny when it isn't pronounced right.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Denise, que haces?

      Interesting piece this, and only illustrates the differences between 'colonial' language and the root (Mexican/South American Spanish vs Castillan or American/Canadian English vs English English - and even that varies from north to south, east to west (there's nowhere in Britain that's more than 75 miles from the sea).

      Got to take issue about a few howlers. When the Jutes, Angles and Saxons came things like hamburgers, kindergarten, nix, wanderlust and steins were a thing of the future, the 19th-20th Century future. Uber, whilst being German, is more modern German, originally would have been 'over'. 'Thwart' is a verb, meaning to stop or hinder an enemy or rival, 'athwart' is width ('he lay athwart the boat').

      German's gone through several changes since the time of the Saxons, as English has. These are all from the last shift. The Saxon spoken by the migrants would be unintelligible to modern Germans, although it has found its way into regional English dialect (Wessex, Sussex and Essex even have different dialect words, and they came in different groups, eventually succumbing to the more aggressive and numerous Wessex Saxons. The Aengle (Angles) of East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria would have understood the neighbouring Danes, and the Jutes who preceded them all after the Romans went would have understood the Danes or Aengle and, at a pinch, the Saxons of Lower Saxony (Hamburg area).

      I have trouble understanding 'Broad Leeds' and I'm from about fifty miles away, we had three different dialect forms within Yorkshire until the Education Act started to standardise English. (Before that a man from Essex, say, couldn't understand a man from Kent although they're across the Thames from one another). Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northumberland is less than fifty miles from my native Teesside going north, and both their dialect and slang are as different as Leeds or Barnsley to their south-east is to ours. E.g., 'Geordie' (Newcastle): 'Are ye cummin t' wor hoos?' 'Nah, Ah've gorra go t'me Nan's'. (Q:Are you coming to our house? A: No, I've got to go to my Grandmother's).

      In Yorkshire we have dialect words like 'flummoxed' (confused), 'bairns' (children, as with Geordies and Scots), 'brocks' (badgers), 'laikin' (playing, pronounced 'larking'), 'sheppies' (starlings), 'cuddy-whiffer' (left-handed), 'nesh' (cold, as in weather).

      Have a look at Peter Wright's little book (64 pages), 'Yorkshire's Yammer' published by Dalesman , ISBN 185568077-7. It's worth a laugh.

      Until next time, see if you can figure out what this means:

      'Thamungerritetten' (clue: 'You've got to eat it')

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      I love the way you write! This is touching and funny at the same time. You include some perfect tales to link your messages. Great article!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      This had much interest Denise since I study the Engish language and many other languages also. I always like to follow the culture of where words have come from, how they evolved, etc. It was also funny at times. I gave this votes up, shared and Tweeted.

      Kevin

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very well written.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 2 years ago from Australia

      Hi Denise,

      Without all this differences and variations language and life would be quite boring! Your remind us that should ever these be lost (thinking Orwell's 1984 here) so many subtleties and nuances will be lost.

      Great hub, Thank you

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      This is a really funny hub, I enjoyed reading it. A friend of mine married a man from Italy and he went to school to learn English and was learning but pronounced words so funny. He was all excited one day when he learned how to say "shut the window"; he pronounced it "shit the window". I hope it was OK to write that. He wasn't cursing, just pronouncing the word wrong. I voted up, funny and interesting.

      Blessings.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      DaphneDL,

      That's a good idea, however I never had a lot of trouble remembering static stationary items, it's those pesky moving action words.... verbs.... that trip me up.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image
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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Yolene, that is great. I think I've seen these before but forgot them. Thanks for the reintroduction to English ... haha.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • DaphneDL profile image

      Daphne D. Lewis 2 years ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

      A great hub on the barriers created by different languages. While working during college, a number of Iranian students would spend times sharing jokes back and forth with the professor for whom I worked. Oftentimes, the punch line of the joke had to be explained due to the language. I've managed to learn a few words in Spanish but learned quickly while in Mexico, that I definitely needed more instruction. My daughter has placed post it notes around my house labeling different items in Spanish with the hope of helping my vocabulary.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      How about this:

      The English Language

      Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?

      Let's face it

      English is a stupid language.

      There is no egg in the eggplant

      No ham in the hamburger

      And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.

      English muffins were not invented in England

      French fries were not invented in France.

      We sometimes take English for granted

      But if we examine its paradoxes we find that

      Quicksand takes you down slowly

      Boxing rings are square

      And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

      If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.

      If the plural of tooth is teeth

      Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth

      If the teacher taught,

      Why didn't the preacher praught.

      If a vegetarian eats vegetables

      What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?

      Why do people recite at a play

      Yet play at a recital?

      Park on driveways and

      Drive on parkways

      You have to marvel at the unique lunacy

      Of a language where a house can burn up as

      It burns down

      And in which you fill in a form

      By filling it out

      And a bell is only heard once it goes!

      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 it is that when I wind up my watch

      It starts

      But when I wind up this observation,

      It ends.

      Source: http://www.ahajokes.com/eng002.html

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      FlourishAnyway,

      I'm so very glad you were amused. I still laugh to this day about my ex-husband sending me to the store for paper toilet.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Venkatachari M,

      I'm so glad you found it funny and useful. I always found English a funny language.

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Jimmy, You did inspire me to write this. After reading yours I realized I have many similar experiences even before I left the US so I figured I write about it too. I love the part about the Normans bringing their chefs with them so the Saxons wouldn't be "touching" their food. Ha. Do you know any other language that has a separate word for the food once it is cooked like that?

      Blessings,

      Denise

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Voted up and across. An entertaining hub. I enjoyed your tales and have had a few of these cross-cultural linguistic experiences myself. Thank you for a good chuckle!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting article narrating many funny and useful facts about languages and your experiences in dealing with them. Thanks for sharing it. Voted up.

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      Ghaelach 2 years ago

      Good morning Denise.

      Hope the weather is better in Fresno, than it is over hear around Dusseldorf.

      I'm hoping I was the one to inspire you to write this wonderful hub. Full of learning material, along with the funny side of living in a foreign land.

      OK, in my not so young age I know most of the what you have written and some I knew but never thought a second about. Ex. Chicken - Poultry, Swine - Pork.

      Glad I wasn't about when Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis came over to the island with his famous "Vikings." Mind you I think they had their schnauzen (noses) full and learnt how to build ships and sail them theirselves becoming the master of the seas.

      The fun you had as a young married girl and and your man being born in Bolivia must have been real fun. I know it took me a long time to find my second wife and had to travel to a foreign land, but after 26 years we still have a good laugh over our (mine) pronunciation of words.

      Great hub Denise, voted up and across, and sharing with my cyber friends.

      Take care and have a great Sunday.

      Jimmy..............................................aka Ghaelach