Reasons why English is so hard to learn
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15082) 16 years ago
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 is 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 oarsmen 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 line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
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Posted by Heath H (+647) 16 years ago
The waitress failed to get my order in order.
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Posted by Heath H (+647) 16 years ago
The other day I heard a yarn about some yarn.
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Posted by Heath H (+647) 16 years ago
I used a yard of concrete to make a sidewalk through my yard.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10040) 16 years ago
Spelling and phonetics doesn't help either. (perhaps it should be: spelling VERSUS phonetics)

Take "ghoti" for example.

What is ghoti? Well, if you sound it out - you get the word fish.
the gh = f as in couGH
the o = i as in wOmen
the ti = sh as in acTIon

"Ghoti" is sometimes attributed to George Bernard Shaw, who (among many other things) was an advocate of phonetics.
http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwhat04.html
http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/ling006.html
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Posted by Duncan Bonine (+283) 16 years ago
Aren't exceptions great?

cough - dough
son - sun
yolk - yoke
weigh - way
weight -wait
weight - height
plow - flow
treat - great
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Posted by Russell Bonine (+241) 16 years ago
And let us not forget plurals:


Goose - Geese
Moose - Meese?

Mouse - Mice
House - Hice?

Boot - Boots
Foot - Foots?


If you want to learn English study another language.
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Posted by Kelly (+2745) 16 years ago
"i" before "e" except after "c" or like "a" as in neighbor and weigh.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15082) 16 years ago
as in neighbor and Budweiser.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+839) 16 years ago
"If you want to learn English study another language."

How true. Unfortunately we have greatly minimized the importance of language in our schools all over the country. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to study many languages; most of that being after high school. I learned more English in the process than anything else.

One of the greatest tragedies to English, in my opinion, was the loss of the subjunctive mood. Tremendously powerful, it only survives in a very few forms today.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10040) 16 years ago
Then there's the sheer size of the English language to deal with.

How many words are in the English language? It seems like it's darned hard to find a definitive answer to that question.

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) estimate that there are over 170,000 words currently in use in English (The OED itself contains 90,000 entries with some 616,500 word forms).

However, the editors point out that their estimate of 170,000 is just the tip of the iceberg, as the estimate does not take into complete account such things as:

--obsolete words
--the senses for different parts of speech (such as nouns and adjectives)
--compound words
--Latin words used in law and science
--French words used in cooking
--German words used in academic writing
--Native American place names
--Japanese words used in martial arts
--medical and scientific terms (there are some 1.4 million named species of insect alone)
--dialects (Scots, Irish, Jamaican, East Indian)
--slang
--technical jargon
--Etc, etc, & etc

While not all of these are of "English" origin or "proper" English (however you are going make those distinctions), they are, nonetheless, a part of the English language vocabulary.

When everything is totaled up, the OED suggests that an English speaker can draw upon at least 750,000 words to get his point across.
http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/numberwords?view=uk

Others suggest that the total may go as high as 3,000,000 if you include all the possibilities.
http://www.wordorigins.org/number.htm
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Posted by Jon Bonine (+165) 16 years ago
I never understood grammar, regardless of what the school systems in Miles City attempted until I studied another language. The professor of the class looked at me like I was joking when I had to ask a question about the English language. His pet-peave was the phrase "I'm doing good." Spoken correctly, it should be phrased, "I'm doing well." Stupid adverbs and adjectives.

The subjunctive could have been a great loss, but alas, the computer grammar check has no idea what to do with the word "whom". If you want to stir up a pot of theological discussion, lament the loss of the "thee" and "thou" of the King James. (I will qualify my previous statement by saying that I'm not sure if "whom" is a subjunctive form, or an accusative form.)
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Posted by Duncan Bonine (+283) 16 years ago
Here's the perfect solution to all the problems with the English language. Finally, acceptance for those challenged by spelling and phonetics!

http://www.germantownacad...elling.htm
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+839) 16 years ago
L O L

This is how I understand the "whom" bit. It's actually pretty easy. "Who" is the subject of a sentence, where "whom" is used as a direct object. In other words, "Who" can DO something where as "Whom" can only RECEIVE an action. The use of "Whom" implies a certain element of intelligence on the object - I would not refer to a pencil as "whom", but I might refer to my dog or my friend as "whom." In the case of the pencil, and certain adversaries, the use of "which" is far more appropriate.

Regarding the Subjunctive - truly a loss in my opinion. We actually still have the mood and use it all the time, we just don't recognize it. The Subjunctive is used to express any element of doubt, non-fact authority, emotion, desire, wish, opinion, something that hinges on a condition... Without understanding the Subjunctive it is very hard to explain why it is so powerful. Most English-speakers don't really have a clue. Newspapers are generally written in the subjunctive as are many many other printed publications.

So why is it such a loss?

Because in English, a sentence written in he subjunctive looks like an authoritative statement of absolute fact. It may take on the tone of the imperative and sound like a downright order when it may have simply been an opinion. We no longer have the ability in English to easily discriminate the two moods. It is this lost form, in my opinion, which creates much of the misunderstanding and quarrels we suffer here today. (a phrase which I would have conjugated in the Subjunctive in another language BTW)

Subjunctive, and Subjunctive's little brother - "Conditional" - still exist with the verb "to be". Here is an example of a conditional...

"If I was a rich man..."
What most people try to do with it is something like "If I was a rich man I would build a house." This non-sentence does not mean anything because the "was" and the "would" are not in the same time-space.

"If I was a Rich man, on November 12, 1947, I WOULD HAVE built a house." The "was" and the "would have" need to work together. You could tack that event up on a time line, however, it does not express what most people are trying to say.

What most people WANT to say rather is that should there exist a pile on money on the floor right now - hypothicially speaking - that money could be used to build a house right now. That HYPOTHICAL (notice the element of doubt) creates a Conditional atmosphere that needs to be addressed specifically. Fortunately, the verb "to be" still has this mood available to us. We can correctly express our DESIRE to have a house and recognize the condition of having money to do it in one simple verb change.

"If I WERE a rich man, I WOULD build a house."
- Now, wasn't that easy?

As far as I know, the verb "to be" is the only one left in daily use that still retains this wonderful tool. If you know of any others, PLEASE send them my way.

Ya gotta love English!
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+839) 16 years ago
Oh, I just thought of something - well, two things actually...
First - "Esperanto" was supposed to solve all our linguistic woes over 100 years ago. My Belgian host mother and her siblings from when I was an exchange student spoke Esperanto. Their Father, a very worldly sort, insisted on it and taught the whole family. http://www.esperanto-usa.org/

Second - The Dutch revamped their written language - I want to say in the 60' or 70's. They converted the whole alphabet to a phonetic one.

While Esperanto would be fun to learn, I'm not sure how useful it is. Seriously, can't everyone just speak English!

While converting the language to an entirely phonetic literature may sound fun, how would you account for the wide variety in accents? Furthermore, the SPELLING of words gives us the ability in English to be more precise and masterful with our parole as it carries with it the historic source allowing that ever so slight, yet undeniably important nuance.


Besides, English is SO powerful, that you can just frample any swyth into a sentence and everyone just gokmers what you mean.
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Posted by Jon Bonine (+165) 16 years ago
I understand that whom is used for the direct object. Unfortunately, my computer does not. My spell/grammar checker does not distinguish between animate and inanimate subjects. It doesn't know when to use "whom" or "which".

I just realized that I confused several terms, hense the hilarity, I'm sure. Regarding the classification of "whom" as subjunctive, the proper question would be accusative or genitive, not as a subjunctive (I was thinking objective/subjective genitives, not subjunctives). For those who are more linguistically minded, is the direct object a function of the accusative or genitive? Or am I forcing categories upon the English language that operate only on other languages?
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15082) 16 years ago
It's all GREEK to me!
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Posted by Jon Bonine (+165) 16 years ago
The unfortunate side-affects of studying another language...Grammobabble

If the phonetic approach is attempted, do we create a new character for sounds that the Latin alphabet does not support, such as "th"? Did you know that the sound of "th" from the words "this, that, the, those" (didactic words (words that point to something))have a different sound than the "th" sound of words like Thursday?

Try it! Put your hand in front of your mouth as you say each word. There is a small puff of air that escapes for Thursday that doesn't for "the". What character do we use????
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+10040) 16 years ago
>>For those who are more linguistically minded, is the direct object a function of the accusative or genitive? Or am I forcing categories upon the English language that operate only on other languages?

My understanding is that the direct object functions with the accusative case. I believe that in English there is also an accusative of extent of space (distance) and an accusative of duration of time.

One function of the genitive (perhaps the most common, at least in English) is to denote possession.

Then there is the dative case which often denotes the indirect object (saying, seeing, giving, etc).

And there is always the ablative case
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+839) 16 years ago
Jon, I'm sorry if I misled you. those were two separate subjects. One was in reference to a previous post (whom). "Whom" was not to be directly related to the subjunctive, although you could use it in a subjunctive structure. :-)

Great topic! Maybe someone should start a foreign language thread... It might prompt me to rummage through my storage and do some cleanup while I find all those old books!
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Posted by Jon Bonine (+165) 16 years ago
For what it's worth, the original letter for the "th" sound found in the demonstrative words (this, these, the) was used in Old English and was called thorn. (I do not know the exact spelling) The form for the letter was similar to a y, but reversed, kind of like ץ. Perhaps someone somewhere knows how to produce such a letter on the computer. It makes its appearances in the "Ye" as in "Ye old shop".

As such a letter exists and as such a sound represented by said letter is currently used in ץe English language,

it is resolved ץat current phonetical teaching methods include ץe use of the letter ץ

and ץat all computers and keyboards from ץis time forward include ץe letter ץ and ץat all existing computers, keyboards and typewriters be retrofitted for said letter

and ץat all further publications in all forms include ץe letter ץ.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15082) 16 years ago
How did "ye" form "yat" letter? I am guessing you are using a greek or hebrew character set?
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+839) 16 years ago
I really enjoy Old English.

The voiced fricative th sound used the d (called eth) symbol as in dat (That). The _ symbol (called thorn) was a non-voiced th such as _urh (through). You will find those symbols in the extended character set.
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Posted by Gary Bonine (+91) 16 years ago
"I dont need to learn English, I'm never going to England"
-Homer Simpson
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Posted by Cheryl Thompson (+61) 16 years ago
[This message has been edited by Cheryl Thompson (edited 1/31/2006).]
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Posted by Duncan Bonine (+283) 16 years ago
Cheryl, Are you speechless?!?
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Posted by Cheryl Thompson (+61) 16 years ago
Yo, Bid daddy upstairs (Our father who art in heaven) you be chill'n (Hallowed be they name) So be yo hood (they kingdom come) You be sayin it, I be doin'it (they will be done) In this here hood and Yo's (On earth as it is in Heaven) Gimme sum eats (Give us this day our daily bread) And cut me some slack blood (And forgive us our trespasses) Sos I be doin'it to dem dat dis me (As we forgive those who trespass againts us) Don't be pushin me into no jive (As lead us not into temptation) And keep deem crips away (But deliver us from evil) 'Cuz you always be 'da man (For thine is the kingdom, power and glory) Aaa-Men (Amen)............... EBONIC'S LORD'S PRAYER
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Posted by Duncan Bonine (+283) 16 years ago
OK...Sorry I asked!
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Posted by Tootz (+64) 16 years ago
ROFLMAO HEHEHEHEHEHE
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