I immigrated to Canada at an early age, and although it was tough at the beginning, I was fortunate to catch onto the multitude of inconsistencies in the English language. Let’s face it, English is full of contradictions, and without constant exposure, some of the rules would make you scratch your head and ask ‘what???’
A quick search on line would uncover hundreds of illogical examples in the English language. Can anyone try to explain these dual meanings of the same word to a person learning English for the first time?
- The bandage was wound around the wound.
- The farm was used to produce produce.
- The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
- We must polish the Polish furniture.
- The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
- I did not object to the object.
- They were too close to the door to close it.
- Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
- I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
And on and on it goes…
Also, who made up these rules?
I can say ‘yesterday morning’ and ‘yesterday afternoon’, but ‘yesterday night’ is incorrect?
If a man and a guy is the same, why are ‘wise man’ and ‘wise guy’ opposites, and how can a ‘slim chance’ and a ‘fat chance’ mean the same thing?
Another thing I’ve always wondered about, “What’s with silent letters”?
Who put a ‘k’ in knife, knock, kneel, know, and who put silent letters in answer, debt, island and so on and so forth. More importantly, why put silent letters in words – was it to confuse the non native English speakers?
I recall in my younger ‘know it all’ teenage days, I would get so frustrated trying to teach my parents how to pronounce words and to explain the meaning of the words. English was obviously not their first language and they had a really hard time trying to comprehend the inconsistencies of it. I now realize just how difficult it was for them to grasp a foreign language where rules don’t seem to apply and words and meanings seem to be made up along the way.
Mom and dad, I apologize for my ignorance and can only hope the younger generation is more patient with me in the future when I try to learn something that seems so daunting and illogical, but perfectly sensible to them.
Since there is no time like the present, I’d thought it was time to present a present to my parents for my lack of patience.
P.S. Can someone please explain the last line to my mother?