The way I see it, English is not just ‘a funny language’ but it can be totally confusing, if you do not have your wits about you.
On Thursday, I went to collect bread at the bakery and I asked the young lady to bring me ‘two bread.’ Then on an afterthought, I asked politely, ‘or should that be two BREADS?’
The young lady laughed and said that the correct thing is BREAD, so it should be two BREAD.
I persisted by asking a young lady in GSS uniform which one was correct. I figured that she was still in school, so she ought to know and she thought for a bit and said ‘two bread.’
Okay, so whoever invented our beloved language certainly did not intend to make it easy for us.
Why should there be one LOUSE and two or more LICE but in another breath, there is one HOUSE and two or more HOUSES and not HICE?
Why should there be so many different ways to spell a word that is pronounced the same way? For instance: PAIR: PIER and PEER or DARE; DEER and DEAR or RAIN, REIN or REIGN; or BUY; BY or BYE or BASS and BASE or PLAIN and PLANE.
To compound the issue, the experts refer to them as HOMOPHONES—whatever that means……
Well I newa!
Now, why when I have one goat, I can later have ten goats but when I have one sheep, I cannot ever get ten SHEEPS but I will always have SHEEP?
Then I asked the school girl, ‘what is the plural of MONGOOSE?’
She instantly responded: ‘MONGEESE.’
I told her that the experts say that the correct answer is MONGOOSES and would rarely use MONGEESE. She was naturally astonished.
Then they have what the experts call HOMOGRAPHS—words that are spelt the same way but can carry different meanings, such as: Bear (animal) and bear (carry); lean (thin) and lean (rest against); plain (ordinary looking) and plain (flat country); skip (to jump) and skip (to miss out); miss (unmarried woman) and miss (to overlook); type (to write via keyboard) and type (a sort).
Now there is really no logical sequence to all of these variations. You just have to remember that it is so! Otherwise, when you are making your eloquent speeches in public, you can be mightily embarrassed, if you get it wrong.
I pay tribute again, to my mother of blessed memory and I recall vividly the hundreds of times that I called on her, after completing, a song, poem or some other script and asked for her expert analysis and correction, especially when it came to matters of GRAMMAR-and by the way, why should not that be GRAMMER?
I recall her being absolutely furious with even Ministers of Government, when they made appearances on TV and would say things like ‘different to.’ She would literally scream: ‘Different FROM!’
She was a stickler for proper English.
Then there was that memorable day when we were all in the living room watching ABS TV and one of the Ministers of Government from Antigua, was giving an address and my father of blessed memory as well, said something about ‘dem BIGMITARIES.’
‘DIGNITARIES,’ my mom quipped instantly. However, I think that my father got it right that time. I have never heard the word more appropriately used, when referring to ‘big shots!’
And so, the more I write the more confused my brain becomes and so I will stop here, because I am certain that I have confused some of you readers as well.
So, let’s make a truce: We will be more sympathetic to others when they get it wrong, from here on, because we won’t get it right all the time either.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?