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Fingers Don’t Fing! English is a crazy language - Global Business Speaks English


Harvard Business Review declared four years ago that, “Ready or not, English is now the global language of business. More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language—Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Fast Retailing, Nokia, Renault, Samsung, SAP, Technicolor, and Microsoft in Beijing, to name a few—in an attempt to facilitate communication and performance across geographically diverse functions and business endeavours”.

I am not sure if the language is more confusing for the people who grew up speaking it or for those who had to learn the language in school. I leave it to you as judge and jury after reading the prose below. It is most definitely not original, but has been assimilated from internet sources as well as from people around me, including my son.

Let me instigate with plurals, because that is what my son questioned me on as he started learning English in school.

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;

But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.

Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,

But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,

But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.

And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,

But I give 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?

If the singular is this and plural is these,

Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,

Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,

But though we say mother, we never say methren.

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? Odd!

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

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 a unique 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.

How can it be hot as hell one day, and cold as hell the next?

When the stars are out they are visible,

But when the lights are out, they are invisible.

When I wind up my watch I start it,

But when I wind up this message, I end it.

And if these paradoxes didn’t get you roaring with laughter, here is some more humour.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,

But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

There is no egg in eggplant,

No pine or apple in pineapple,

And no ham in hamburger,

English muffins weren't invented in England

Neither were French Fries in France.

Sweet meats are candy,

While sweetbreads, which aren't, are meat.

You have definitely seen one of the thousands of Whatsapp messages that went, “If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress?”

Bud did you already know

Of tough and bough and cough and dough?

Others may stumble, but not you

On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

All these words ending with ‘ough’ are pronounced differently. Crazy!

Beware of heard, a dreadful word

That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;

For goodness sake, don't call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat,

(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not a moth in mother.

Nor both in bother, broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there.

And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there's dose and rose and lose --

Just look them up -- and goose and choose.

And cork and work and card and ward,

And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.

The fastest-spreading language in human history, English is spoken at a useful level by some 1.75 billion people worldwide—that’s one in every four of us. Considering the innate confusions and complications, isn’t that a paradox too?

This post is intended to amuse not disparage.

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