Does anyone really speak English???

I’ve been thinking about the English language recently. For the past couple of weeks we’ve had the theme ‘Vanity’ in my conversation classes, and this – of course – included clothes vocabulary. Which comes with the usual British English/American English ‘problems’… ‘Pants’ in the UK are worn under trousers; in America, pants are trousers.
An American woman keeps her make-up, car key, tissues, comb, pen, phone, money etc etc in her ‘purse’. A British woman’s purse contains her money and credit cards only…

Other words are problematic on both sides of the Atlantic – and in other English-speaking countries too. A while back one of my students sent me the following:

Do you really speak English??? And come to that, does anyone?!?!?!

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.
A few pertinent questions:
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?
Why do people recite at a play yet play at a recital, and park on driveways and drive on parkways??

piano-315012_1280And… if a vegetarian eats vegetables, what the heck does a humanitarian eat?
More food for thought:
Do infants think the same way about infancy as adults think about adultery?
Love is blind, but lingerie is still very popular.
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
A person who plays the piano is a pianist, but a person who drives a racing car is not (necessarily) a racist.
And if people from Poland are called ‘Poles’, why aren’t people from Holland called ‘Holes’?

Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?
Why do overlook and oversee mean quite different things?
If horrific means horrible, does terrific mean terrible?
Why do we say ‘11’ – and not ‘onety-one’?
If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed?
If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he really become disoriented?



Mind you… some things are just human nature in any language.
If someone tells you there are a billion trillion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure…
Yes, a picture paints a thousand words. Maybe we should all start drawing.



To finish off, this week’s photo from my new flat with a view. Twelve days to go!



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10 Responses to Does anyone really speak English???

  1. barbtaub says:

    I love every (peculiar) word!


  2. Brilliant post Linda!!


  3. Annecdotist says:

    Lovely post about our crazy language – and I love what you say about wet paint!


  4. TanGental says:

    Lovely, Linda, lovely – it is a great language as long as you don’t think it is terrible clever or important. I always love the words where we have the opposite but not the original – I can be inept but never ept; I can speak at inordinate length but not ordinate the examples are legion. And as for two people’s separated by a common language well, the US male holds up his pants with suspenders whereas it’s the ladies in the UK needing a different level of support. And in the UK I might be willing to share a rubber with a friend but that’s never going to happen in the US even between very close buddies…
    One other thing I’ve noted; how, phonetically (or in actuality) other nations names are hilarious to the English but it never seems to work the other way, or not as much – Jean Condom was a French rugby player who could no doubt never understand why Twickenham always gave him such a rousing cheer when his name was read out.


    • lindahuber says:

      When you think about it, words are ridiculous! And of course they’re only a means to an end – communication. Every language has its ‘funnies’ – in German there’s the word ‘Schwul’ which means homosexual, and there’s ‘schwül’, which means muggy, oppressive – what a difference an umlaut makes… I’m always careful, talking about the weather!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this blog post Linda. We certainly have a strange and complex language but I loved your take on it. Your examples were very amusing. I agree about other languages having their peculiarities too. I’ve made the mistake of using the word ’embarazada’ in Spain thinking it meant embarrassed. It actually means pregnant. Very embarrassing at my age!


    • lindahuber says:

      Heavens, yes, that’s as bad as me calling the weather homosexual – see TanGental’s comment + my answer! 🙂 Sometimes you just have to be able to laugh at yourself!


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