My choice to revisit the foibles of English Grammar and Language was precipitated by running across this first item not long ago. When I realized that it really wasn’t the pain medication I was on at the time which made it make sense, I was both intrigued and amused. Perhaps you will be, too. Let me know….
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the first and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?
I am willing to provide a “translation” of the above into “ordinary” English, but I suspect that few would need it. I confess that it took me by more than a bit of a surprise when I simply read this off with quite little difficulty.
Having actually worked in as a clerk in a store where I had to “ring people up,” I was amused by this cartoon from Dustin. Oh, how the subtleties of current language usage impact us! In this case, literally.
I found this list of reasons why the English language is difficult for many people to learn to be quite revealing. While it doesn’t seem to me to even begin to explain all of the problems, I thought it useful in providing some examples of the complexity of “simple” English.
Some Reasons Why The English Language Is Hard To Learn
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Speaking of usage:
Perhaps the most frequently abused words in English are “I,” and “me.” Now, I suppose that I shouldn’t take too much offense at their misuse by the general public, but I get quite annoyed at their misuse by reporters, who, obviously, didn’t learn the language well in school and are NOT being corrected by editors, etc. (Do they actually write their copy, or is it really just made up without any level of proofing?) If I didn’t care about having some idea of what is going on in the world, I’d refuse to watch the news at all (especially local news) since they don’t seem to be able to understand (let alone speak) simple English. I’m just so tired of people talking about “I and my friends…”, or “other people and me” that I want to send the lot of them back to Middle School to learn standard grammar. That is, of course, assuming that actual grammar is being taught in Middle School, which may well not be true.
That, of course, isn’t my only pet peeve. There is, for example:
The Cavalry vs Calvary dilemma:
Look closely, there are two different “C” words indicated above. I would suggest that in a world which pretends to be dominated by Christianity, one really should know the difference. Perhaps a dictionary-type definition would help.
Cavalry is, traditionally, a form of horse-mounted military unit, although in the present dayit may include units carried by helicopter, or other airborne means.
Calvary is a geographic location (commonly believed to be a hilltop) just outside the walls of Jerusalem which is said to be the place of the crucifixion of Jesus.
NOTE: These two definitions refer to completely different subjects in almost every possible way I can think of. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get some people to realize that there is a difference here, but I wish it would happen soon! I am completely floored by the number of “good” Christians (just ask them) who speak of Jesus’ suffering on Cavalry. Unless he was saddle-sore, I find that a hard statement to follow.
Another especial grievance of mine, which I encounter with great frequency reflects a misunderstanding of the term “graphic,” especially in news broadcasts. Here’s the dictionary definition of “graphic:”
1 a product of graphic art
2 a graphic representation (such as a picture, map, or graph) used especially for illustration
If one reads this with ANY degree of care, it becomes obvious, I think, that ANY pictorial/imagistic representation of anything is “graphic.” Hence the frequently used warning of “graphic” images in TV news stories is stupid. Of course, they are “graphic,” after all, they are pictures! BUT there is nothing inherently controversial or sensitive about something being “graphic.” This is certainly true in television news, where the entire broadcast is “graphic.”
Did you hear about the new restaurant called Karma?
There’s no menu: You get what you deserve.
They told me I wouldn't be good at poetry because I'm dyslexic.
But, so far, I've made 3 jugs and a vase, and they are lovely.
In a totally different direction, this from Zits:
I ran across this list of anagrams a while back and I thought I’d close by including them. I found them amusing. An Anagram, as you know, is a word or phrase made by transposing or rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. The following struck me as clever.
Dormitory: Dirty Room
Evangelist: Evil's Agent
Desperation: A Rope Ends It
The Morse Code: Here Come Dots
Slot Machines: Cash Lost in 'em
Animosity: Is No Amity
Snooze Alarms: Alas! No More Z's
Alec Guinness: Genuine Class
Semolina: Is No Meal
The Public Art Galleries: Large Picture Halls, I Bet
A Decimal Point: I'm a Dot in Place
Eleven plus two: Twelve plus one
Contradiction: Accord not in it
I’ll be back,