Sunday, November 14, 2010

學習英語: 沒有法則的英文 ∕ Learning English: When Exceptions Become the Rules

聽聽作家Kathryn Lindskoog的意見,
"Creative Writing - For people who can't not write"

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
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?
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?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
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?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship...
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

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 goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother is not Mop?

哈!哈! 好一個沒法則的語言
When Exceptions to the Rules Become the Rules !!

*「維基百科」: 英語語言發展史
* Wikipedia: English language

Photo Credit / 图片:
* Amazon dot com


新鮮人 said...

有没有一本叫"Easy reading - for people who can't not read English"!

xiao zhu said...


啤酒花™_J said...

gotta borrow this blog to show my linguist frens!

啤酒花™_J said...

n also my sister who teaches English!

Haricot 微豆 said...


If you find one, send a copy to the owner of this restaurant with the Chinglish Menu

Haricot 微豆 said...

Xiao Zhu:

What a lark :)

Haricot 微豆 said...


Please let me know what they think :)

Haricot 微豆 said...


I got one for your sis:

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

Cuz preachers pray, but teachers play!!

啤酒花™_J said...

LOL. Cuz preachers pray, but teachers play!! I hope she plays! she is too serious! @@

Haricot 微豆 said...


Perhaps she can be "at ease" with the students from time to time while still retaining their respect.

啤酒花™_J said...

she can't stand me, when I use (Malaysian-English, :P "Manglish", no broken English to chit-chat) to communicate with her...she would rather I speak in Teochew dialect. :P, can u imagine that? So, to her students, i bet, she gets even more serious when she is teaching!

Haricot 微豆 said...


Haha, first time I heard of Manglish, as opposed to Chinglish!!

Your sis sounds like a tough cookie, and don't tell her I say that >_<

啤酒花™_J said...

Haricot 微豆,

Yup, in Malaysia, we always refer broken English as Manglish (cos we actually localize lotsa terms! n when we go Singapore, we refer their English as "Singlish"). "Chinglish" is common as well! @@.

Haricot 微豆 said...


>> .... 不可误人子弟!

I only wish all teachers are as responsible as your sis !!

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