The English language

Posted by R. Berg on December 04, 2001

In Reply to: The English language posted by ESC on December 04, 2001

: : : : For non English speakers English is an easy language to learn at a basic level. Afterwards, according to my many non English speaking friends and family, there is 'an enormous mountain to climb'. Some of this is related to the widespread use of Idioms - this site is a good example! There is also the difficulty of not being able to work out from the spelling how a word is pronounced.
: : : : Another small, but very odd, feature is the occasional use of words, which are usually the opposite in meaning, to mean the same thing! An example is 'Up' and 'Down' - obviously opposite until you tell someone to 'slow up' or 'to slow down'. In a similar vein is to 'wind up a company' or to' wind down a company'.
: : : : Over the years I've thought of a few other examples, but I can't remember them now (?old age?). Thus, a little pre-Christmas quiz. How many other such expressions can people contribute?

: : : First you chop a tree down, then you chop it up.

: : "The house burned down" describes the same event as "The house burned up"--but the connotations are a little different. We think of a house as burning down to the ground or going up in smoke.

: Wasn't this part of a Jerry Seinfeld routine: Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway?

I don't know about Seinfeld, but George Carlin said something like that.