To me, the internet is the world’s most amazing library for finding out absolutely anything. OK, there is an awful lot of rubbish and bad stuff on it, but also some absolute gems.
Today, I found this. Enjoy.
English is the most widely used language in the history of our planet. One in every seven human beings around the globe can speak English. And more than half of the world’s books and three-quarters of international mail are written in this crazy tongue.
Of all languages, English has the largest vocabulary – perhaps as many as two million words – and of course it has one of the noblest bodies of literature.
However, let’s face it! English is a crazy language!
For example, there is no egg in eggplant, and will you find neither pine nor apple in a pineapple .
Hamburgers are not made from ham, English muffins were not invented in England, and French Fries were not invented in France.
Sweetmeats are candy, while sweetbreads which are not sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted. But when we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, public bathrooms have no baths, and a guinea pig is neither a pig nor is it from Guinea.
And why is it that a writer writes, but fingers do not fing, humdingers do not hum,
n humdinger [ˈhʌmˌdɪŋə]
1. something unusually large a humdinger of a recession
2. an excellent person or thing a humdinger of a party
and hammers don’t ham.
If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth?
One goose, two geese, so one moose, two meese?
One index, two indices, one Kleenex, two Kleenices?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends – but you don’t make just one amend,
- 1. (idiomatic) To repair a relationship; to make up; to resolve an argument or fight; to make reparations or redress.
I hope they can stop fighting and make amends.
we comb through the annals of history – but not just one annal?
v comb through something
Fig. to look through something, examining it thoroughly. I combed through all my belongings, looking for the lost papers. The vet combed through the dog’s coat, looking for tick bites.
annals [ˈænəlz] pl n
1. yearly records of events, generally in chronological order
2. history or records of history in general
3. regular reports of the work of a society, learned body, etc.
And if you have a bunch of odds and ends – and you get rid of all but one – what do you call it?
odds and ends pl.n.
Miscellaneous items, remnants, or pieces.
So tell me, if the teacher taught – why isn’t it that the preacher praught?
If a horsehair mat is made from the hair of horses,and a camel hair coat from the hair of camels – what is the name of the animal that gives us mohair ?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables – what does a humanitarian eat? And if you wrote a letter – perhaps you also bote your tongue?
Sometimes it makes you wonder if all English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people drive on a parkway
– and park on a driveway?
driveway – a road leading up to a private house; “they parked in the driveway”
Then we recite at a play – and play at a recital?
We ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
And have you noticed that we have noses that run and feet that smell ?
How can a fat chance and a slim chance be the same thing?
there is very little or no possibility of that happening Will Hal make you laugh? Fat chance.
Usage notes: usually used as a separate sentence to remark on what was just said, as in the example
a slight chance; a small chance. There is a slim chance that I will arrive on Monday, but Tuesday is more likely.
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
wise man – a wise and trusted guide and advisor, mentor
- 1. Informal a person who is given to making conceited, sardonic, or insolent comments Informal
2. US a member of the Mafia
How can overlook and oversee be opposites,
vb [ˌəʊvəˈlʊk] (tr)
1. to fail to notice or take into account
2. to disregard deliberately or indulgently
vb -sees, -seeing, -saw, -seen (tr)
1. to watch over and direct; supervise
2. to watch secretly or accidentally
while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?
quite a lot (spoken)
a large number or amount We’ve had quite a lot of rain this year.
quite a few
a large number We watched quite a few of the World Cup matches on TV.
How can weather be as hot as hell one day – and as cold as hell the next?
And then sometimes we only talk about certain things when they are absent.
No doubt you have seen a horseless carriage – but have you ever wondered what a “horseful carriage” would look like?
And where are the people who “are spring chickens,” or who would actually “hurt a fly”?
spring chicken n.
1. A young chicken, especially one from two to ten months old, having tender meat.
2. Slang A young person.
not hurt a fly
not injure or upset anyone or anything She said the arrest was a mistake, that her husband wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Usage notes: also used in the forms can’t hurt a fly, couldn’t hurt a fly, and would never hurt a fly: He was so gentle he would never hurt a fly.
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
To become destroyed or consumed by fire. The wood burned up and left only ashes. The deed burned up in the fire.
[for a building] to be destroyed by fire. The barn burned down. There was a fire, and the old factory was burned down.
in which you fill in a form by filling it out and
fill in something also fill something in
to give written answers to questions on a computer or on paper. Fill in the entire form and then click “submit.” If you have left out a date, first name, or other information, fill it in.
fill out something also fill something out
to provide information on paper or on a computer Please fill out the form before you call for an appointment. Print the document, fill it out, and bring it with you.
in which your alarm clock goes off by going on.
go off – be discharged or activated; “the explosive devices went off”
go on – start running, functioning, or operating; “the lights went on”; “the computer came up”
English was invented by people, not by computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, is not really a race at all). That is why, when stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch I start it, but when I wind up this essay I end it.”
wind up [waɪnd]
1. to bring to or reach a conclusion he wound up the proceedings
2. (Engineering / Mechanical Engineering) (tr) to tighten the spring of (a clockwork mechanism)