This Stupid Language

They say that English is the hardest language to learn. I’m not sure who says that, exactly. Probably the same people who say that swimming is the best exercise and you should feed a cold and starve a flu. Regardless of who the mysterious “they” are, that stuff about English makes me feel good. Mostly because I learned it way back when I was a little kid. So did most of the people I know. And people call Americans stupid. I’m not sure why English is the hardest language to learn, but I’ve got my theories. My prime theory deals chiefly with the fact that, as discussed earlier in the ground breaking and critically ignored essay [I]Rephrase That[/I], we have littered our language with stupid, confusing, frivolous phrases that confound logic. I’m going to talk about them again.

Every so often you will see someone that clearly works very hard. What makes it clear is essentially how dirty they are and how bad they smell. More often than not, these people are grumpy and short tempered, roughly in proportion to the degree to which they are dirty, and the degree to which they smell. I’m talking mostly about farmers and other industrious rural folk. Now I’m not insulting these people. If I spent most of my day ankle deep in things that fell out of an animal, neither my scent nor my mood would be particularly rosy. That’s why I avoid using the phrase that is mysteriously applied to them as a compliment. Salt of the Earth. You know what the romans did after they conquered their enemies? They salted the earth. You know what happened then? Nothing grew for a long, long time. This is a bad thing. Salting the earth is a VERY bad thing. You would think that the farmers in particular would be aware of this fact. Salt is also bad for you, and getting it is a real hassle. So much so that “working in the salt mines” is that rarest of things, a phrase that typically conjures the correct picture in the listener’s mind. We should probably call these people the fertilizer of the earth. It would be a far better description of their role. And their smell.

Okay, so I probably shouldn’t have said most of that. I guess I was being a little wreckful. What’s that? Wreckful isn’t a word? The real word is reckless? WHY? Does that make any sense to you? Honestly, you should be rewarded for reckless driving! I have never wrecked a car. That would make me reckless, wouldn’t it? And don’t give me that crap about the W. If the word wreck can have a silent W then the word reckless can have an invisible silent W. We’ll call it the stealth W. Besides, who ever heard of a Reck? Don’t get on my case about sharing Germanic etymological roots with the word reckon, either. This is called Brainlazy, remember? I can’t be bothered to check that stuff!

As long as we are on the subject of the stupidity inherent to the language, let’s talk about invisible letters. People know all about silent letters, but no one mentions the invisible ones. Oh, they exist. Look at one. I don’t mean look at an invisible letter. Obviously that would be impossible. I mean the word ‘one’. Where’s the W? You can hear it. Otherwise you’d pronounce it ‘own’. One also has another type of letter I like to call the lazy letter. In this case it is the E. Assuming there is indeed a W we can’t see, then that E isn’t doing squat! Depending on what part of the country you live in, the language is positively infested with invisible letters. R is a popular one around here. Also, certain letters get either lazier or quieter in certain areas. Most notably G. You gettin’ the idear? I’ve actually got a theory about the life of the letter R on the east coast, but that’s another article.

Getting back to the task at hand, there is a debate that rages constantly among my friends. Let me ask you this. What do you do when you are sleepy? Sleep? Good, me too. Now, what do you do when you are itchy? Me, personally, I itch. I itch an itch to relieve the itching sensation. I understand I am in the minority on this one. Most of you out there scratch. I could see scratching if you are scratchy, though that would probably not help the situation. People have turned this around and asked me if I hungr when I am hungry. To that I say, SHUT UP! Then I point out that being hungry is caused by hunger, while being itchy is caused by having an itch. If it was spelled hungr, I might give you some sort of credit. I would probably lobby to have the word eat replaced with the word hungr, too. But that’s just me. I want things to make sense.

Well, I guess we’ve gone about as far as we can on this one. For now. I’m sure I’ll stumble upon more nonsense in our stupid language that needs to be elaborated upon. Until then, cheer up, all of you folks learning English as a second or third language. If the language doesn’t seem to make any sense, don’t worry about it too much. It isn’t supposed to. As near as I can tell, about 70% of the English language exists for no other reason to than to make our sentences long enough to be voiceworthy. That and to give form to our thoughts, which don’t typically make much sense either.


About Decoychunk

Editor, Writer, and general Knower-Of-Words, if there is text to be read on BrainLazy, Joseph Lallo probably has his fingerprints on it. As the final third of the ownership and foundation of BrainLazy, Joseph “Jo” Lallo made a name for himself when he lost the “e” from his nickname in an arm wrestling match with a witch doctor. Residing in the arid lowlands of the American Southwest, Joseph Lallo is a small, herbivorous, rabbit-like creature with the horns of an antelope. He sleeps belly up, and his milk can be used for medicinal purposes. Joseph Lallo is also author of several books, including The Book of Deacon Series, book 1 of which is available for free here.