Our Crazy Language

Words, words, words,   They are the Coin of our everyday exchange of ideas, and yet how carelessly we use them, and often giving not one thought to what we are really saying.

As when we approvingly say someone has The Midas Touch, meaning it as a compliment of some sort, yet the whole point of The Midas Touch fable was that the touch was a curse, not a blessing.

And how come we call it a SHIPment if our packages go by car, truck, plane or rail, and call it CARgo if it goes by a ship?

Why is it a Fashion if we like it and a Fad if we don’t?. And why do other Countries have Spies while we have Intelligence Agents? And just the same, we say a house burns up, when it really burns down? And say Literally, when we often mean Figuratively? We have a Waitress, a Laundress, and Hostess, to clear up any sexual confusion, but never Doctoress, Lawyeress, or ‘Teacheress?

I know it’s getting boring, but we call one who is absent, as an absentee, An escaper is an escapee, or stander a standee. and yet, paradox of all paradox, and give it a thought, for we switch the entire idea and an employer is never, ever an employee.

We thoughtlessly insult our original choice when we call a last-minute replacement, as a pinch-hitter, because a pinch-hitter is really someone with more talent, and who is taking the place of one less qualified.

Why do we call any snarl-up a big bottleneck when properly it is a lilttle bottleneck or there’d be no snarlup to begin with. Why do some people go to bed for sleep, while others turn in. And why do we hop a plane, take a bus, and jump into a cab.

When we refer to Churchill’s famous and wonderful words of defiance to Hitler, why do we speak of the blood, sweat, and tears and never once use his fourth word, the one of TOIL, without which the other three would have been useless?. Why do we close up a house, but close down a store or office. And why do we add that unnecessary word of ‘UP’ to such words as hurry UP, jump UP, or wake UP. You tell me.

And on and on, why do we over-use the unlovely word of ‘got’. We say he’s got the measles, when what we mean is he had/has the measles.   And in the same vein we say so and so was appointed to President, instead if simply ‘appointed President..

Why in every day speech is the ‘aftermath’ always unpleasant, when, the results, the aftermath can oft time be simply wonderful. and we so foolishly say “Cheap at half the price when we mean the absolute opposite.

Why do we so often begin our remarks with ‘frankly’, or ‘to tell the truth’, which it only makes it seem as if we don’t speak frankly very often, or that it’s unusual when we do tell the truth.

And going the same way, why do we begin or end over half of every sentence we speak with “You know”. Dang it, if we already know, it’s foolish to tell it again, and if we don’t know, all we have to do is just tell what we want them to know. And let it go at that.

Words, word, words, We become so familiar with them that we don’t even hear what we’re saying. And just going over only a few of the few inane words and phrases we use so carelessly, we know why people studying English as a new language, say it is the most frustrating language in the world. And they don’t exclude the Chinese language either. English it said, is the hardest of all to learn.

We have rules and more rules, and then always add the maddening phrase of “except”. . .  Yeah, be glad you were born speaking it. It’s too hard to learn later on.

One thought on “Our Crazy Language

  1. Also, we are in such a hurry that we create shortcuts, extractions, and spell words and phrases into new made up words, spell phonetically, e.g. Thru, rite when we mean write, cuz for cause or cousin.
    Then there is the spelling issue: read, read, cough, plough, tough, look, foot, boot, etc. bomb and comb,
    Corn is pronounced several ways depending what end of Utah you’re from, it could be “carn, corn, or currn”, the same issue is encountered with barn and George.
    “Y’all come back” doesn’t mean they want you back, only a gentle goodbye.
    A “God bless her” isn’t a blessing but rather a way to let others know she is less than: smart, pretty, well wedded, from the right side of town, or quick on the draw.
    I love languages regional, foreign or domestic.
    We marveled at the Japanese and their three or four types of characters, the kanji those little symbols that stand for a concept, an alphabet that create sounds and to cover new words never before needed: computer, for example, had to be conceptualized and then kanjied. O yeah, it’s fun, and I’m not even sure English is the most difficult, jim

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