Thursday, December 8, 2011

One Word

Once again, I believe the French have it right.

When someone doesn't want to spend money, we say they are stingy.  But we say it like it's stingey.  I think we should say sting-y like sting with a y.

In French, they say the equivalent of :  he has a sea urchin in his pocket.  Meaning, he doesn't want to stick his hand in there and get stung.  Read about it here.

So, I think the word really used to be pronounced STINGy because they didn't want to get stung.  But then someone said stingey and it stuck.

I sometimes really dislike the English language because it doesn't make sense.

Take the word butterfly.  At no point, should butter fly.  I have never made butter, but I am pretty certain that butterflies don't hang around it when it's being made.

I think the word used to be flutterby.  Because they flutter by you.  But then someone said butterfly and it must have just stuck.  What a stupid word that is.  Butterfly.  Imagine being a non-English speaker trying to understand.

In other languages, things are often compound words that make sense for what they are.  In French,  a  sunflower is a tournesoleil, tourne being turn and soleil being sun, it turns toward the sun.  We get it right in English too, because it's a flower, looks like the sun and likes the sun.

But try using that logic with butterfly.  Nope.  Nonsensical.

Whenever my students fuss that French is so hard, I remind them that English is so hard, they just dont' know it. 

We say there are rules in English, but there are million exceptions to every rule.  In French, if it's a rule, it's a rule and that's it.  Beauty.

When they still gripe and say that everyone should just learn English, I put these words on the board:


And then I ask them how they would explain to a non English speaker that ough has these 5 different sounds for seemingly no reason.

That usually shuts them right up.

What languages have you learned? 

1 comment:

  1. I only know English. ButI find English fascinating. I love that its always mutating. Your list of words reminds me of the "ghoti pronounced fish" joke. How fascinating English is. Let's change all the rules and throw in an enormous amount of synonyms for every word. Love it! :)


I love comments almost as much as I love summer. I reply to all comments except those ridiculous anonymous comments offering me dirty deeds and real estate. When you leave your comment, please make sure your own settings will allow me to reply to you. Nothing makes me sadder than replying to your comments and then realizing it’s going to the no-reply@blogger address!