Another English Lesson


By Bill Derby

A friend, who must feel sorry for my constant abuse of the English language, sent this to me.

My old English teacher would be appalled at what I do today. This is a true story. She followed me through my entire educational life.

Ms. Lavenia Bowers was my sixth-grade English teacher at North Side Elementary. She had the ability to stare a hole right through you. I couldn’t get away with much. She later moved on to Science Hill where I tried my best to avoid her English class. It didn’t work.

After my three-year military career I headed back to ETSU to finish my journalism degree. I still needed a couple more English classes.

I walked into my first class and couldn’t believe it. There she was again, Ms. Bowers’ college English class. She had moved to the university teaching level. We both laughed and by then she knew my level of competence or lack thereof. I think she was fairly easy on my grade and actually enjoyed having me as her student again. We got along great.

Here is information my friend sent to me on the English language.

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.  Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.


New words for female drugs-

• Antiboyotics–When administered to teenage girls, is highly effective in improving grades, freeing up phone lines, and reducing money spent on makeup.

• Antitalksident–A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers in elevators.

• Damnitol–Take two and who cares about the rest of the world for up to eight full hours.

• Emptynestrogen—A pill that eliminates melancholy and loneliness by reminding you of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn’t wait till they moved out.

• Flipitor–Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

• Jackassprin–Relieves headache caused by a man who can’t remember your birthday, anniversary, phone number, or to lift the toilet seat.

• Menicillin–Potent anti-boy-otic for older women. Increases resistance to such lethal lines as, “You make me want to be a better person. Are you available tonight?”-

• Nagament–When administered to a boyfriend or husband, provides the same irritation level as nagging him.

• St. Momma’s Wort–Plant extract that treats Mom’s depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to two days.


About Author

Comments are closed.