Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Parlez-vous anglais?

You’ve probably come across lots of poems or prose expounding on our weird English language with its myriads of confusing inconsistencies.
Take the word “treat.” It can mean a luxury or extravagance. It can mean “to pay for.” It can be the way you handle a situation. It can be something your doctor does for a patient. Or it can be to indulge yourself or someone else. It’s enough to make you say, “Huh?”
We have lots of words like that. Sometimes they sound different, sometimes not. Try to wrap your head around these:
The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
“There is no time like the present,” he said when it was time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests on different subjects.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of crushed rock.
Think about the names we give our clothing. Shirts. Skirts. Skorts. Shorts.  Huh?
The other day I got rid of a bunch of odds and ends. Now I have only one left and I don’t know what to call it. Is it an odd? Or an end?
No wonder language experts say English is one of the hardest to learn. And no wonder so few of us tackle a second.
I have the utmost respect for anyone who learns English as an adult. My sister Shanon teaches English as an Additional Language at the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre. She says:My students have told me that when they first arrive in Canada it seems like everyone is just saying ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. blah.’ It takes a great deal of courage, perseverance, and the ability to laugh to acquire a new language. I admire my students so much.”
I’m proud of Portage la Prairie for embracing newcomers to Canada and providing assistance in language and other transitions. There’s a song from the 1980’s called Love in Any Language, and I truly hope the words of it will be true here in Portage and all of Canada:

“Love in any language, straight from the heart
Pulls us together, never apart;
And when you learn to speak it, the whole world will hear
Love in any language, fluently spoken here.”
(Words and music by Jon Mohr and John Mays)

1 comment:

  1. I sometimes wonder how they came up with spelling words with all those silent letters... I mean, thought could (or cood) just as well be thot. In any case, I am so grateful that I learned this language as a young child.