Jeff Jacoby, the brilliant conservative columnist for the Boston
Globe was recently pilloried by Globe executives for having used (and
corrected) public domain historical observations about the fate of those
men who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was sentenced to four
months suspension without pay. His duplicitous masters claim if he had
included a single disclaimer he could have avoided his current
hardships. Most don't believe the disclaimer would have made a
difference, especially since Globe management chose to refuse Jacoby the
opportunity to publish a post mortem clarification.
Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that Joseph Farah and
WorldNetDaily are far more reasonable, rational and professional than
the Boston Globe, I will include this CYA prelude to the following
analysis. I did not originally conceive the subsequent "Reasons the
English Language is hard to Learn." Actually the list from which I
borrowed includes 21 reasons. Space only permits me to comment on 11 of
them. They are part of the huge body of work attributed to "Anonymous"
and distributed worldwide via the blessing and curse of cyberspace.
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The statements are not mine, and the author unknown. The analysis
and observations are mine.
I remember suffering in college with "Beowulf" and Chaucer. Old
English was difficult, confusing and awkward. However, New English,
even without the exacerbation of colloquialisms, regionalisms, and
slang, is also hard -- especially for those attempting English as a
Consider the following:
Reasons the English language is hard to learn
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- The bandage was wound around the wound. You will
immediately note the spelling of "wound" and "wound" is exactly the
same. However, the meanings are significantly different. The first
"wound" (wowend) means to wrap in a circular motion. The second "wound"
(wooind) is an injury. Consider the plight of the immigrant attempting
to define the word without sufficient context. It makes no sense.
- The farm was used to produce produce. Again, same spelling
different definitions. The spelling is identical but the second is a
noun, the first is the process of planting, nurturing, watering, and
harvesting a product which happens to be spelled exactly the same? And
this time there isn't even the subtle distinction in pronunciation.
- The dump was so full, it had to refuse more refuse. The first
"refuse" is pronounced "ree-fuse" and means to deny. The second "refuse"
"ref(as in the abbreviation for referee)-use" and means garbage.
- We must polish the Polish furniture. We must polish (by applying
wax and rubbing vigorously) a ten foot pole (although most Poles are
only about five-foot-eight and rarely over six-two). Polish (with the
hard "o" and upper case "P") is the nationality of people born in
- He could lead if he would get the lead out. If you want to kill
a half-hour look up "lead" in an unabridged dictionary. Depending on
the edition, there is about a page and half of real small print that
makes an analysis of the federal budget clear and concise. "Lead" which
needs to be pronounced "leed" means to guide on a path both figuratively
and literally. "Lead" is a heavy soft malleable metal, and the only
substance that could protect Superman from the deleterious effects of
- The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert. OK,
read this aloud a few times. "Desert" No. 1 one means to abandon one's
unit. Once upon a time when soldiers were soldiers and not politically
correct social engineers, it was a capital offense and a soldier that
did desert could be executed. "Dessert" is usually an after meal last
course or confection that tastes wonderful and contains unhealthy levels
of fat and carbohydrates. The last "desert" is a hot, arid region
consisting of mostly sand, an absence of water, and a close resemblance
to a politician's soul (which, considering the similarities between
politicians and the usual inhabitants of deserts, like snakes,
scorpions, and creepy-crawly critters, is probably best left for a
- Since there was no time like the present, he thought it was time
to present the present. Are you getting dizzy yet? Three times you
read "present." The spelling is identical, the meanings different: 1)
"present" as in here and now, contemporaneous, happening; 2) "present"
as in to hand forth, turn over to; and 3) "present" as in gift,
gratuity, or "oh goody, birthday loot."
Who was the academician, linguistic sadist that did this to us? At
least with "to" they gave us different spellings: to, too, two.
- A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum. A "bass" is a
fish. A "bass drum" is a percussion instrument. Come on, you pronounce
the drum name as "base" not "bass." The deeper you get into this list
the more reasonable those east European languages look that are so
stingy with vowels.
- When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. A "dove" is a bird
from the attractive side of the pigeon family. The pronunciation rhymes
with "love" which kinda makes you want to spell it "duv." By the way,
as hunter I'll tell you this, when shot at, doves don't dive into the
bushes. They fly away FAST and erratically so you miss again, and again.
- I did not object to the object. Same spelling ... apples and
kumquats. The first "object" usually comes out "ubject" and means to
take exception to, disagree, reject (as in "That dog don't hunt"). The
second "object" is a nondescript noun, and we would all probably feel
better if the pretentious writer would just tell us what the
object is to which he is referring.
- The insurance was invalid for the invalid. Talk about
politically incorrect. The first "invalid" (as an adjective) states the
insurance was not valid. It was null and void. The second un-PC use of
"invalid" refers to a sickly or bedridden person.
English is difficult in its most pure and natural form. As we add,
delete, amend, contemporize, and "improve" it, it gets increasingly
Language according to my dictionary is "the words, their
pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by
a considerable community and established by long usage." This
definition leads me to conclude language is an art and not a science.
It is arbitrary and capricious. And if anyone doesn't like the way our
language is articulated and written, they can go somewhere else and
fight the battle with glottal clicks and long words conspicuously absent
Don't object to the object. Get the lead out and lead on.