Saturday, August 13, 2011

English Lesson

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

"Homograph"--(n.) a word of the same spelling as another, but of a different meaning and pronunciation.

My mom sent me the following piece that would be terrifically funny if it weren't so true. It has apparently been making the rounds on the internet for years. Maybe you've seen it already. Whoever pieced this together was brilliant. Anyone know the name of the author?

You Think English is Easy?

 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 was 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 oarsment 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. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat...And why is it that 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...?

"...In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

"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.

"p.s.--why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?"

Makes you want to cheer on those who have mastered English as a second language, doesn't it? I for one applaud those in my family who, for the sake of love, not only learned English, but learned it magnificently well. My 2 years of Latin in high school and a year of Italian in college (whissht--gone, don't remember any of it!) pale in comparison to those who have mastered my language.

What idiosyncrasies of English give you the most trouble?

*photo courtesy of


  1. I work my way through a field of knives, I have a reasonable command of English, but I discovered a few weaknesses when I began to write my books.

  2. Wow, this just blows me away. It IS a crazy language. I'd never thought of the word 'recital' like that. It makes no sense that a 'recital' has no recitations. Crazy. And the 'ship things on a truck and send cargo by ship' cracked me up as well. Fun post!

  3. I love that quote! Came across it years ago and always tried to facilitate rather than force learning with my children.

    Yes, the English language is odd at times. Thanks for sharing this. :)

    Have a good week,