The craziness of languages

I have recently stumbled upon this piece of marvel written by Richard Lederer, an American author known for his books about the English language and word play.

Here are some examples illustrating why English is a crazy (but nevertheless beautiful) language:

“Let’s face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineappleEnglish muffins weren’t invented in England. Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck but send cargo by ship. We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway. And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on. And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?”

All right, so when you read this, you might laugh out loud and agree that English is a crazy language. I remember hearing the expression “It’s raining cats and dogs” in high school and thinking “Why on earth would people say that? It doesn’t make any sense!”. But don’t all languages have weird expressions and a weird grammar, sometimes? If you think about all the exceptions in French, all the irregular verbs in Spanish – and, oh yeah, let’s not forget about the subjunctive in both Spanish and Italian – it’s actually the same thing. But isn’t this part of every language’s charm? If every language had the same rules and logic, wouldn’t that be boring? If Esperanto’s is every world traveller’s dream (including myself), I still think diversity is a wonderful asset not be frowned upon. As a polyglot, I have learned to gather a little bit from every culture, look at the world more openly and appreciate the little things in life we often neglect. You may not become a new person overnight when learning a new language but it certainly makes you more open towards other people.

So, don’t be afraid to discover a new language because of its insane grammar or expressions! Go for it! 😀 Before you know, you’ll actually end up having fun!

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