Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inglish as She is Goodly Spoken

You may laugh at the title, but today's heading is actually the name of a real book. We often laugh at foreign languages, like the French swear-phrase "Sacre blu", which literally means... as you might guess... 'sacred blue'. Why 'sacred blue' should be their equivalent of English's 'f^%@!' is anyone's guess. And what about foreigners trying their best to write signs in English using only a Local-Language to English dictionary, and some of the hilarious signs which result? See engrish.com for heaps of examples. But when its all said and done, you can't really blame them for having trouble. These are just some of the reasons why English is so hard to learn:

The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.
There is no time like the present, so he thought he would present the present.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
He did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
The oarsmen had a row about how to row.
He was too close to the door to close it.
A stag does strange things when the does are present.
After a number of injections my jaw became number.
The artist saw a tear in his painting and shed a tear.
She had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
An army chef decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

And of course, there are no eggs in an eggplant, and no apple or pine in pineapple. Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square, Guinea pigs are neither from Guinea nor are they pigs. Writers write but fingers don't fing. A slim chance and a fat chance are the same thing, so are quite a lot and quite a few. But overlook and oversee are very different. You fill in a form to fill it out, an alarm goes off by going on, when the stars are out you see their light but when the lights are out you see nothing. And why do you wind up a watch to start it, but wind up a story to finish it? Why is a parcel that goes by car called shipment, and one by ship called cargo? And why do you drive on the parkway, but park in the driveway?

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