English: An Asylum for The Verbally Insane

by Curt Kovener

English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple, and Grape-NutsĀ® are neither either.
English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
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 we 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 one moose, 2 meese?
Doesn’t it seem crazy 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 didn’t preachers praught? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
How can your house can burn up as it burns down? How can you fill in a form by filling it out? How does an alarm goes off by going on?
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, 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.
Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ but BicĀ® does?
And if the English language isn’t confusing enough, let’s talk to the animals… in plural.
We are all familiar with a herd of cows, a flock of chickens, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese.
Less widely known is a pride of lions, a murder of crows, an exaltation of doves and, presumably because they look so wise, a parliament of owls.
Now consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and of questionable intellect of all primates. And what is one of the proper collective nouns for a group of baboons?
Most appropriately it is a Congress! That explains a whole bunch, doesn’t it.