Do You Think English is a Wacky Language?


Illustration courtesy of

Last week, I wrote how one word can potentially be a lethal weapon. So I though I’d switch it up and offer a lighthearted post.

Do you think the English language is wacky?

I sure do. And I pity anyone who has to learn our wacky English language. Check out these examples.

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm used produce to produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • When shot at, the dove, dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

The wacky examples continue:

  • There is no egg in eggplant.
  • No ham in hamburger.
  • No apple or 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.
  • Boxing rings are square.
  • A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

Why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing?

  • An grocers don’t groce.
  • Hammers don’t ham.

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth?

  • One goose, 2 geese.
  • So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn’t it seem wacky that you can make amends but not one amend?

  • 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 don’t preachers praught?
  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think English speaking people should be committed to an insane asylum for the verbally insane.

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

  • Or ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
  • Have noses that run and feet that smell?
  • How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

Do you marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down?

  • Or you fill in a form by filling it out.
  • An alarm goes off by going on.

English, invented by people, reflects the human’s race creativity, which of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this…

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

  • At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
  • Why do we speak UP?
  • Why are officers UP for election?
  • Why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
  • We call UP our friends.
  • We use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
  • We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times, the word UP has special meaning.

  • People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
  • To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
  • A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
  • We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
  • We are pretty mixed UP about UP!

Are you UP to building UP a list of the many ways UP is used?

  • It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
  • When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
  • When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
  • When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
  • When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry UP.

I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so…….it is time to shut UP!

Now it’s UP to you what you do with this post.

Thanks goes to Belinda Burston for sending this my way.

If you’ve read this far down the page, I hope you enjoyed this post. If so, please leave a comment. Oh yes, and enter your email address after clicking the “Sign Me Up!” button to receive free updates every time I post.

Thanks for visiting.


17 responses »

  1. Yes, English is a wacky language. I have a dyslexic son, and have agonized over his struggle with our language. If it was more straightforward, his dyslexia would be less of a problem! It has been very frustrating for both of us at times, and no simple way to explain all the many, many exceptions. Good post.

    • I had a uncle who suffered with dyslexic so I can empathize. I loved to take the credit for the post, but as I mentioned Belinda Burston sent the info my way. I just tweaked it a bit. Thanks Brenda for leaving your comments and your “like” on my published artwork page.

  2. Yes I agree a very wacky language. When I was growing up in England, before the days when travel and communication made the world smaller, the colloquialisms from town to town made the English language even harder. For instance where Ilived, the word ‘moggie’ was commonly used for a mouse, but to a scouser from Liverpool they’d think you were talking about a cat! lol. Thank you for a lovely post. Tovah

  3. Ha ha Tracy! The jumper/sweater thing is just the start! 🙂 When I first came to Canada, my first job was in a ladies clothing store. People would ask for a vest and I thought they meant undershirt, a “jumper” here, was a pinafore dress back home, nobody asked for knickers–they were the euphemistic “underwear” here. It all made for a fun time when things got lost in the translation. 🙂

    Thank you for the link to my blog. I love yours, and what you did with this post on language. 🙂

    • It baffles my mind, but don’t get that baffle confused with a flow-directing vane or panel in some vessels such as shell and tube heat exchangers, chemical reactors, or static mixers.

  4. I absolutely do… LOL. It’s my language and I love it, throw in some of my Southernisms & I’m happy… even though as a child I did get confused at times…LOL Oh, thanks for visiting my blog also. I appreciate your time. : D

  5. These are just some of the problems I have with teaching my ESOL student English or American which ever way you want to call it. The English language is screwed sideways and as my linguist husband says it is a technical term!! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such fun stuff, Tracy! 🙂

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