Minggu, 14 Oktober 2012

English: Fascinatingly Inconsistent

“There’s nothing constant in this world but inconsistency” – Jonathan Swift
Indeed, inconsistency is what makes up the world. We may find consistency in nearly all aspect of this life, even in language. We have learnt English since elementary school, some of us even earlier, but we learnt it for granted. Thus, we seldom realize that some consistencies occur in this language. Dr. Albrecht Classen, a linguist from The University of Arizona, points out several fun and entertaining inconsistencies in English that will put us in awe and make us shout “how can I missed that” or “seriously.”

In his “English Language: Crazy Inconsistencies,” Dr. Classen shows us that an English word may come with different meaning, such as the word “dessert” in this sentence:
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert
There are two exactly identical words and one nearly identical word in the sentence; but those three words have totally different meaning. The first desert means to leave or to abandon while the second desert means the barren or desolate area especially the dry and often sandy ones. And the other dessert (with double s) means the dish served as the last course of a meal.

In the other examples, we are shown with some interesting facts that there is no egg in eggplant, neither pines nor apples in pineapples, English muffin is not originated from English, French fries in not French. Also, we will find paradoxes in the fact that quicksand is slow, a boxing ring is square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig.

Do you ever have a nose that runs and feet that smell? Do you ever wonder if a vegetarian eats only vegetable then what does a humanitarian eat? How can a fat chance and a slim chance are the same? Why can a wise man and a wise guy be opposites? A wise man is a wise and trusted guide and advisor while a wise guy is an upstart who makes conceited, sardonic, insolent comments. Why is put pronounced as /pʊt/ while cut is pronounced as /kʌt/? Why does alarm go off when it rings?

Those are some of the million unique features of English. After all, language is the product of human’s intelligences, not a computer’s, thus inconsistencies may occur here and there. From here on, be aware of those unique features in every language you learn, and then you will find the fun in learning the language.

Compiled from various sources

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