We’re lucky we know English..!

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

ONE very im­por­tant rea­son why we shine glob­ally to day is our knowl­edge of English, one has only to go to Europe or Ja­pan or Rus­sia, China to see peo­ple there strug­gling with the lan­guage. For many years silly, self­ish short sighted politi­cians, tried to throw out the lan­guage, but we stead­fastly held on to it and to­day it is pay­ing div­i­dends like noth­ing else is:

But why other na­tions strug­gle with it, is be­cause it’s a crazy, crazy lan­guage: Just imag­ine, there is no 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 not meats, 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, 2 geese. So shouldn’t one moose be 2 meese? Or one in­dex, 2 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 preach­ers praught? If veg­e­tar­i­ans eat 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 a wise guy are op­po­sites? How can over­look and over­see be op­po­site, while quite a few and quite a lot are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell the other day.

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

Ah my friend, 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 col­umn, I end it..! Crazy lan­guage huh? Lucky peo­ple we..! —Email:bob­s­ban­ter@gmail.com

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