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The English Lesson

We are reminded daily here of how difficult and inexplicable our "Engrish" language really is. I can hardly imagine having to learn English as a foreign language. What a task that would be! But I remind my students that their language is also no piece of rice cake either, and I demonstrate at least some of the difficulties when attempting to say some of the few things I know in their language. Suffice it to say, my students are mildly to wildly amused at my feeble attempts in Chinese. I hope they can not only see the reverse problem, but also have more confidence to make mistakes themselves instead of sitting quietly by.

Today's iv is a poem that points out only a few of the anomalies of the English language.

The English Lesson
attributed to Richard Krogh

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot - would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and plural is these,
Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose;
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;
For goodness sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not a moth in mother.
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there.
And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there's dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I'd learned to talk it when I was five,

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five!


Our classes are going fine, and our social lives are quite active. We've been invited out to dinner every night this week except Wednesday by students or others here whom we have gotten to know. And dinner engagements for next week have already begun, with Monday already planned.

My wife Becka started getting a cold the other day, and she is sure that it has now gone into a sinus infection. She had brought along a prescription of antibiotic that her doctor back home gave her before the trip, and so she has begun to take that medication. I have completed my Chinese medicine. Phew! I really do feel much better now, and I'm especially happy to have finished the medicine!


"One day every knee will bow. Those who see things as they really are are on their knees now." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^= =^..^=

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

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