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The Crazy English Language

Updated on December 1, 2011

why the English language is so hard to learn

I love the English language, but I certainly am glad that I grew up speaking it! It must be terribly difficult to learn for non-native speakers. One thing that makes the English language so difficult to learn is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pronunciation. A simple word like “bass” can be pronounced two different ways and have two completely different meanings. And just think of the different meanings of the word “check,” even though they’re all pronounced exactly the same way. Another problem is that the English language includes so many synonyms. For example, just how many words do we include that mean “small”? Just off the top of my head, I recall little, tiny, diminutive, miniature, wee, and teeny. Join me in a stroll through this crazy English language!

Should more than one fox be "foxen"?
Should more than one fox be "foxen"?

Homonyms and heteronyms and heterographs - oh my!

What are homonyms?

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and the same pronunciation, but they have different meanings. Examples of homonyms:

I left the papers on the left side of the desk

I watched the lean man lean into the blow.

I need to check on the check I sent to the power company.

His desire to punch someone was the result of drinking too much punch.

I’ll need a bat to get rid of the bat flying around in my bedroom.

Masked balls used to feature jesters juggling balls.

Did the vet send you a bill for mending your duck’s bill?

Catching the fluke at the beach last year was just a fluke.

I’m going to steep some tea over the fire before we begin our steep climb.

I think I’ll have a glass of tea before changing into my tee.

I long to have long hair.

What are heteronyms?

Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same, but they’re pronounced differently and have different meanings. Examples of heteronyms:

Do you ever wind your watch when the wind is blowing?

The invalid in the nursing home had an invalid account.

If a largemouth bass could sing, would it have a bass voice?

I’ll have a real contest on my hands when I go to court to contest the will.

The boys had a row about which ones were going to row the boat.

Are you going to desert me here in the middle of the desert?

I need to digest my lunch before I read the digest.

The moderate politician is going to moderate the debate.

What are heterographs?

Heterographs are words that sound the same, but they’re spelled differently, and they have different meanings. Examples of heterographs:

There’s no room in the inn.

I know of no other books like this.

She’s the one who won the 50-yard dash.

Their house is over there.

I took my son outdoors to enjoy the sun.

I can’t hear you from here.

My horse is hoarse from neighing too much.

Of course, sandpaper is coarse.

What have you done with the dun pony?

Be sure to close the lid to the clothes hamper.

Does a hare have fur or hair?

More English language points to ponder

If you can have two beers, why can’t you have two deers?

Why is the plural of mouse mice and the plural of louse lice, but the plural of house is houses?

The plural of ox is oxen, but the plural of fox isn’t foxen.

Is an asset a small donkey?

It two times is twice, and three times is thrice, why isn’t four times fice?

How can a house burn up and burn down at the same time?

If the prefix “in” means “not,” why is something invaluable worth so much?

If the suffix “less” means “without,” how come something priceless is so expensive?

Why don’t we pronounce the “th” in “clothes” when we pronounce it in “clothing”?

Why is feeling “under par” bad, but shooting under par is good?

Why do we say “sick as a dog”? My dogs are seldom ill. And why do we say “work like a dog” when the overwhelming majority of canines are unemployed?

Why is “everyone” singular?

Why is “pants” plural, but “shirt” is singular?

Why do some of us “cheese it up” or become “hams” in front of a camera, even though photography has nothing to do with dairy products or pork?

That ubiquitous four-letter word

I just had to include my thoughts on a very popular four-letter word in the English language. For TOS purposes, I’ll use the word “spit.” The actual word includes the letter “h.” It’s the only curse word my mom would ever utter. I asked her about that one day, and she explained that there are times when no other word would do. She added that the word is also very versatile and can be used in a variety of situations and entail a number of meanings. Check these out:

Extreme joy: Oh, spit! I just won the lottery!

Anger: Spit! I left my keys in the car.

Location: Where in the spit did I put my glasses?

Discovery: What in the spit are you doing?

Disbelief: I don’t believe that spit.

Incredulity: Are you spitting me?

Shock/surprise: Spit! You scared me!

Value: That’s not worth spit.

Culinary: Eat spit!

Descriptive: You look like spit.

Medical: I feel like spit.

Frustration: Spit. I keep getting the wrong answer.

Confrontational: I’m going to beat the spit out of you.


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