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A Mountain Indeed

Posted by The Fallen on January 22, 2002

In Reply to: Re: English Language posted by James Briggs on January 22, 2002

: : I saw this pass around one day and thought some of you fellow linguistics might be amused. It is title:

: : WHY ENGLISH IS DIFFICULT TO LEARN

: : 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) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to
: : present the present.
: : 7) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
: : 8) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
: : 9) I did not object to the object.
: : 10) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
: : 11) They were too close to the door to close it.
: : 12) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
: : 13) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
: : 14) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
: : 15) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
: : 16) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
: : 17) I had to subject the subject to tests on the subject.

: My German family - I have a German wife - have often said that English is 'easy' up to a basic level and then there's a mountain to climb. The above sentences are graphic illustrations of some of the height to be scaled.

I've also had this said to me many times by non-native English speakers. English grammar is relatively simple - effectively a single neuter gender (except when dealing with individuals) and effectively two declined cases (nominative and accusative - others being non-declined, formed for example by a preposition plus the accusative, or by a possessive 's).

It is in spelling/pronunciation that the English language excels in being perverse, as the original posting shows. I offer the -ough construct as a prime example, as in:-

Cough, Through, Though, Enough, Bough, Bought

Six entirely differing pronunciations for one small syllable... the image of the mountain to climb is apt indeed.