Sunday, 1 May 2011

An Ode to the English Plural

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England. We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship...
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

My aunt sent me this an email and it is particularly apt since teenager is knee deep in revising for GCSE's. Folks- a lot of people are asking why I am not posting. All is well and I am will catch up very soon. We are busy and in a good way pretty much. I am having bother with nerve pain in my right leg which is causing havoc with my foot. As a result of this I am having a procedure to help with the pain mid May. More about this next time I write. So dealing with this takes some dealing with every day including a daily long sleep. That takes up some time of course. I am good spirits and enjoying the sunshine. Be in touch soon. JoXXX


Maggie May said...

Glad you are OK. I have wondered about you!

This post has sent my mind reeling!
I guess we must be proud of our unique language and accept all its oddities and irregularities. Good to be different.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

Wow that post really does make your mind boggle! But don't you just love being English and part of such an odd culture?
I just read an article in a Sunday supplement about how the pomp and ceremony of this country is at times ridiculous but also wonderfully eccentric. Very true!

Glad to hear you are still well and busy!

Saz said...

good to read you at last...

lost my blog domain and so reclaimed oldun

shall pop back tomorrow and read what lve been missing

take care

luv saz x

karen gerstenberger said...

Looking forward to the time when you are back here - thank you for the update. I'm just thankful that things are going well for the most part. xoxo

Ladybird World Mother said...

Loved the poem!! Utterly brilliant and may well have to cut and paste it as I loved it so... sorry about your painful leg and foot, Jo... hope that gets sorted asap. In the meantime lots of love. xxx

Susan Lesley said...

A really entertaining read!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Still thinking about you. Long may you still laugh at life.

Maggie May said...

Please can you get in touch with me?

Maggie X

Nuts in May

Jan said...

English is mind boggling...and THIS is a superb example!!
Good to find your blog and shall return!

Snowdrop said...

No sign of Jo for a while. I really do hope you are OK. Am missing your tales of life in my favourite Lake District.

Just to let you know, should you come back to the world of blogging that I have wound up Green Shoots and gone public on wordpress.

I didn't want to announce Reflections on Green Shoots as I still want that to be anonymous. I hope you pop by some time.

Gill - That British Woman said...

how are things in your neck of the woods?

Gill in Canada

Ladybird World Mother said...

How are you? Long time no hear... xxxxxxxxxxx

WOL said...

English is an exceptional language. In English, even the exceptions to the exceptions have exceptions --- except when they don't. WOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo. I have never commented before, but I often return to your blog to see if you have posted. I do hope that you are well. I also hope that you will have time to post soon to let us know what you have been up to. Best wishes to you!