English is a Crazy Language…

There is neither egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that 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?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t a preacher praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horsefull carriage or a strapfull gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly, hevelled or peccable?

And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY 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, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the 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.

This passage has been making rounds on various chain e-mails, bulletin boards some time back. But today when I searched the Internet, I found more than 13000 sites with this passage. But we have our own version of this, in the movie Namak Halal.

In the movie Namak Halal, Amitabh Bachan, when asked whether he could speak English gives the following reply: “You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, because English is a very funny language.

He then goes on to show his prowess with English describing two incidents. If you have not seen Namak Halal here they are:

In the year nineteen hundred and twenty nine, Sir, when India was playing against Australia in Melbourne city, Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare, they were at the crease and Vijay Merchant told Vijay Hazare, “Look Vijay Hazare, this is a very prestigious match and you must consider this match very carefully. So considering the consideration that Vijay Hazare gave Vijay Merchant, Vijay Merchant told Vijay Hazare that ultimately we must take a run and when they were striking the ball on the leg side, Sir, the consideration came into an ultimatum and ultimately Vijay Hazare went to Vijay Merchant and said…

In the year nineteen hundred and seventy nine, when India was playing against Pakistan in Wankede stadium Bombay, Wasim Raja and Wasim Bari, they were at the crease and Wasim Bari gave the same considertion to Wasim Raja and Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari “look sir, this ultimately has to end in a consideration which I cannot consider therefore the consideration that you are giving me must be considered very ultimately.” Therefore the run that they were taking, Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari “Wasim Bari you take the run…” and ultimately both of them ran inconsiderately, they got out.


  1. silverine said,

    February 3, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    The last para was brilliant!!! LOL English sure is a funny language.

    But what is amazing is that unless pointed out none of us would have noticed these gaffes. 🙂

  2. James Bright said,

    February 3, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    You are very true in suggesting these contradictions.
    When you come to England , you will start noticing all these dialects and accents which are unique to different areas like our Trichur and Trivandrum accents. It is very much a complicated language.
    That is my feeling, Alexis.

  3. -poison- said,

    February 6, 2006 at 8:18 am

    english can be manipulated beautifully. i love that language..

  4. Ammey Kesarkar said,

    February 6, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Considering the consideration considered being correct…
    I will keep visiting your blog 😉

  5. Alexis Leon said,

    February 6, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Silverine: Thanks.

    James: How do you deal with the different accents? Do you have Irish patients, becasue their accents will be totally different…

    -poison-: Very true and I know a few people who does the manipulation very well.

    Ammey: Thanks for dropping in. You have a nice blog.

  6. James Bright said,

    February 7, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Yes, I have Irish colleagues too. Their accents are different. The Scottish people may be confused with them. They both are different from the English in many ways. In London, the east London accent is different from the others. The educated people sounds different from the ordinary people.

  7. Arti said,

    February 7, 2006 at 9:35 pm

    Nice post…
    I still remember that scene from Amitabhs’ film where he says that English is a funny language 🙂 And then he mentions a few examples …erhm … am not [go]ing to mention any here ;))


  8. Paresh said,

    February 9, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Indeed! You get sound sleep when there is silence.

  9. maya cassis said,

    April 4, 2006 at 5:18 am

    hee hee hee that was so funny.rofl
    and by the way,here’s a little secret,i fell in love with The Big B when i was eight, because he could talk,walk and laugh english.
    loved this post.

  10. Alexis Leon said,

    April 4, 2006 at 9:59 am

    maya cassis: Big B is my favorite actor. Even now his screen presence is still the same. A great actor and a wonderful performer.