20 Oct

Jagged vs. Lagged or English is Strange

Posted by Jenna, Under Uncategorized

Yesterday husband and I were reading scriptures together (actually we were reading the student manual which was explaining some of the concepts found in the scriptures) and I found myself getting caught up on the word “lagged”. I realized that if you replaced the L with a J the word went from one syllable to two syllables — lagged vs. jagged. Why is this? I couldn’t focus on anything else so we took a break from our reading while husband dug up the following email forward from his inbox. I loved it so much I decided I had to share it with you, even though most of you have probably already seen it. How does anyone learn this as a second language? CRAZY!

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse .
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present , he thought it was time to present the present
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

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, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 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? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. 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.
PS. – Why doesn’t “Buick” rhyme with “quick”

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is “UP.”
It’s easy to understand UP , meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?
We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car . At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special .
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. I f you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP , you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP .
When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP .
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP , for now my time is UP , so……….. it is time to shut UP…..!

9 Comments


  1. an eggplant looks kind of like an egg before it turns purple.

    but really cute post, i’m glad english was my 1st language!

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  2. I’ve loved wordplay and the English language for as long as I can remember! I’m such a dork, but will readily admit that etymology is, to me, really, really interesting. I took Latin in high school and follow Dictionary.com’s Tweets!

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  3. why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?

    why do shipments go by car and cargo’s go by ship?

    crazy.

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  4. Is it weird that I kind of love all the crazy idiosyncrasies of English? English just feels so very American to me – just this wild hodgepodge of words and ideas from all sorts of languages and places, all shmooshed together in a way that doesn’t really make sense and yet somehow manages to work. (and yes I am conveniently forgetting the whole English coming from well England thing. The craziness of English just feels more American than prim and proper Britain)

    But then again I stubbornly refuse to learn a new language – partially because the second I say yes my quadralinqual husband will put little sticky labels all over the apartment, refuse to speak to me in English to promote “emersion” and otherwise drive me batty. And I really love my husband and would hate to have to cause him bodily harm in the defense of my sanity. But mostly just because I’m lazy and learning another language seems so hard. So I really should have more push back some of my adoration for English’s insanity in favor of everyone willing to put forth so much effort to make heads or tales of it.

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  5. Truly makes me grateful for having this messed up language as my first – I guess I can appreciate why my grandmother refused to speak in English even after 50 years in this country.

    Delightful!

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  6. i’ve never read about the “ups” before – how funny!

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  7. When I tutored ESL, both of my adult learners were Polish women who had graduate degrees and had mastered basic level English quite well. This kind of stuff drove us all crazy.

    Having taken some Latin and Greek actually helped immensely in that job…

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  8. I was thinking about the”UP” bit today– I’m glad to see this posted!

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  9. Mrs. Happily-ever-after says:

    I work with adolescents with disabilities, and do a lot of working on reading with them. This post hit the nail on the head with how hard it can be! They all have English as a first language, but very low reading abilities.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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