Jacoby, the brilliant conservative columnist for the Boston Globe was recently
pilloried by Globe executives for having used (and corrected) public domain
historical observations about the fate of those men who signed the Declaration
of Independence. He was sentenced to four months suspension without pay.
His duplicitous masters claim if he had included a single disclaimer he
could have avoided his current hardships. Most don't believe the disclaimer
would have made a difference, especially since Globe management chose to
refuse Jacoby the opportunity to publish a post mortem clarification.
notwithstanding the fact that Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily are far more
reasonable, rational and professional than the Boston Globe, I will include
this CYA prelude to the following analysis. I did not originally conceive
the subsequent "Reasons the English Language is hard to Learn." Actually
the list from which I borrowed includes 21 reasons. Space only permits
me to comment on 11 of them. They are part of the huge body of work attributed
to "Anonymous" and distributed worldwide via the blessing and curse of
statements are not mine, and the author unknown. The analysis and observations
remember suffering in college with "Beowulf" and Chaucer. Old English was
difficult, confusing and awkward. However, New English, even without the
exacerbation of colloquialisms, regionalisms, and slang, is also hard --
especially for those attempting English as a second language.
the English language is hard to learn
is difficult in its most pure and natural form. As we add, delete, amend,
contemporize, and "improve" it, it gets increasingly confusing.
bandage was wound around the wound. You will immediately note the spelling
of "wound" and "wound" is exactly the same. However, the meanings are significantly
different. The first "wound" (wowend) means to wrap in a circular motion.
The second "wound" (wooind) is an injury. Consider the plight of the immigrant
attempting to define the word without sufficient context. It makes no sense.
farm was used to produce produce. Again, same spelling different definitions.
The spelling is identical but the second is a noun, the first is the process
of planting, nurturing, watering, and harvesting a product which happens
to be spelled exactly the same? And this time there isn't even the subtle
distinction in pronunciation.
dump was so full, it had to refuse more refuse. The first "refuse" is pronounced
"ree-fuse" and means to deny. The second "refuse" is pronounced "ref(as
in the abbreviation for referee)-use" and means garbage.
must polish the Polish furniture. We must polish (by applying wax and rubbing
vigorously) a ten foot pole (although most Poles are only about five-foot-eight
and rarely over six-two). Polish (with the hard "o" and upper case "P")
is the nationality of people born in Poland.
could lead if he would get the lead out. If you want to kill a half-hour
look up "lead" in an unabridged dictionary. Depending on the edition, there
is about a page and half of real small print that makes an analysis of
the federal budget clear and concise. "Lead" which needs to be pronounced
"leed" means to guide on a path both figuratively and literally. "Lead"
is a heavy soft malleable metal, and the only substance that could protect
Superman from the deleterious effects of kryptonite.
soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert. OK, read this aloud
a few times. "Desert" No. 1 one means to abandon one's unit. Once upon
a time when soldiers were soldiers and not politically correct social engineers,
it was a capital offense and a soldier that did desert could be executed.
"Dessert" is usually an after meal last course or confection that tastes
wonderful and contains unhealthy levels of fat and carbohydrates. The last
"desert" is a hot, arid region consisting of mostly sand, an absence of
water, and a close resemblance to a politician's soul (which, considering
the similarities between politicians and the usual inhabitants of deserts,
like snakes, scorpions, and creepy-crawly critters, is probably best left
for a subsequent commentary).
there was no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the
present. Are you getting dizzy yet? Three times you read "present." The
spelling is identical, the meanings different: 1) "present" as in here
and now, contemporaneous, happening; 2) "present" as in to hand forth,
turn over to; and 3) "present" as in gift, gratuity, or "oh goody, birthday
was the academician, linguistic sadist that did this to us? At least with
"to" they gave us different spellings: to, too, two.
bass was painted on the head of the bass drum. A "bass" is a fish. A "bass
drum" is a percussion instrument. Come on, you pronounce the drum name
as "base" not "bass." The deeper you get into this list the more reasonable
those east European languages look that are so stingy with vowels.
shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. A "dove" is a bird from the attractive
side of the pigeon family. The pronunciation rhymes with "love" which kinda
makes you want to spell it "duv." By the way, as hunter I'll tell you this,
when shot at, doves don't dive into the bushes. They fly away FAST and
erratically so you miss again, and again.
did not object to the object. Same spelling ... apples and kumquats. The
first "object" usually comes out "ubject" and means to take exception to,
disagree, reject (as in "That dog don't hunt"). The second "object" is
a nondescript noun, and we would all probably feel better if the pretentious
writer would just tell us what the object is to which he is referring.
insurance was invalid for the invalid. Talk about politically incorrect.
The first "invalid" (as an adjective) states the insurance was not valid.
It was null and void. The second un-PC use of "invalid" refers to a sickly
or bedridden person.
according to my dictionary is "the words, their pronunciation, and the
methods of combining them used and understood by a considerable community
and established by long usage." This definition leads me to conclude language
is an art and not a science. It is arbitrary and capricious. And if anyone
doesn't like the way our language is articulated and written, they can
go somewhere else and fight the battle with glottal clicks and long words
conspicuously absent vowels.
object to the object. Get the lead out and lead on.