There's 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 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,
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat ?
Sometimes I think all the English
speakers should be committed to
an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other 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
opposites, while quite a lot and
quite a few are alike? How can the
weather be hot as hell on one day
and cold as hell another?
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.
People, not computers invented
English, and it reflects the
creativity of the human race
(which, of course, is not a race at
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!
[Edited 2006-02-02 19:40:42]