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It has been said that the English language is one of the toughest to master. I have always wondered why this was and quickly figured it out after a little searching. Here are some of the more interesting snippets I ran across that make English so convoluted:

  • The combination “ough” can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
  • The word “set” has 424 definitions. (Seriously, look it up!)
  • There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
  • How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
  • If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

Some examples of how many English words have multiple meanings:

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.

I guess I just always assumed that all other languages had oddities like this, but it seems as if English is more special than most in that aspect. Today’s holiday actually has a specific theme each year. This year it is The Language of Sport. To celebrate, we look to the sporting world and find all those sports idioms that are now used in everyday conversation. Here are a few that I find myself using frequently:

• up to par • sink or swim • set the pace • right off the bat • out in left field • out for the count • not in the same league • jump the gun • down for the count • down to the wire • throw in the towel • run interference • off the hook

It was really interesting to read about all of these. I never really gave too much thought to the English language. Coincidentally, while watching the Tigers game, this trivia question came up that fit perfectly with the holiday:

The question is (in case you can’t see it): Where is the baseball phrase, “Around the horn” derived from?

The answer is: Around the horn was how sailors got from the Pacific to the Atlantic before the Panama Canal. In the days of the tall ships any sailor who had sailed around Cape Horn was entitled to spit to windward; otherwise, it was a serious infraction of nautical rules of conduct. Thus, the permissible practice of spitting to windward was called ’round the horn.’

In baseball, Around the horn is one of two things: 1. around the horn (adj) (of a double play) beginning with the third baseman, who throws to the second base, who throws to first. 2. around the horn (adj) (of a ball) thrown from third to second to first base or vice versa, usually after an infield out is made.

So, there you go! I’m sure you have all had your fill of the English language today. I have a few bonus pictures though. My friends Michele and Jeff were in town from Florida and they brought their little boy, Cash, for all of us to meet. I got him a few baby tees to mark the holiday (luckily he’s a boy because they sure don’t have a lot of sports related stuff for baby girls!):

Fun times!

One final bonus one that I just couldn’t let slip by, the English language master herself, Sara. Looks like she’s practicing for the upcoming American’s Next Top Model tryouts:


Total Cost to Celebrate: $7

Clip of the Day:

Some dude doing 35 different English accents, I think he does a pretty good job for most of them (way better than I could!):

P.S. – When Rich and I were in New York the bartender pegged us as Michiganders within seconds of sitting down. Apparently I have a thicker Midwestern accent than I thought….