While working on a life history recently, a word that we all use frequently didn’t appear to be spelled correctly. The longer I looked at it, the more I was convinced that I’d lost my ability to remember its correct spelling. Even after I looked it up in the dictionary, it still looked wrong.
I suppose we all have brain freezes like this from time to time. When I ‘m doing research in languages other than my native English, I get confused at times because I don’t know the “foreign” language well. When reading them, I slow my reading speed down, rather than skipping almost all small words like I do when reading English. Given that I know English, why does it still trip me up from time to time?
Non-English speaking friends from around the world tell me that English is a hard language to learn. After they give examples, I have to agree with them. Let’s explore this statement a little further using some of the text from an old genealogy class handout:
I love English! But….
Can you read these right the first time?
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.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP."
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.
Fess UP…you like this!
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so………… Time to shut UP…..!
Oh…one more thing:
What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P