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Balderdash

Apr 30, 2011 3:29:16 PM - thesundayleader.lk

English And Its Idiosyncrasies

Much has been said about the idiosyncratic use of the English language. This is true I suppose to some folk who try to master it for the first time.
Some of us have grown up using this language from the time we could speak our first words, so I suppose it comes as second nature to us. But for others, it is really confusing, and you can’t find fault with them because there is no proper explanation or rule followed when certain words or phrases are used. I remember one such person was one of my brother’s German wives ( he had them one at a time!) who kept exclaiming, “ I am boring!” Well, it certainly was true, but why was she proclaiming it so frequently to the world at large? We looked at each other in puzzlement. Finally my brother enlightened us saying, “Ha ha! She means she’s bored!” Ah, right, we thought.
But that didn’t detract from the fact that her statement was true. We privately called her “The Disco Duck” since all she seemed to be interested in doing was togging up to the nines and going to nightclubs. So, we wickedly never corrected her. She would wear various flashy outfits accompanied by glittering accessories, and she would triumphantly say, “He buyed all this for me!” Ah, very nice, we would say out loud like hypocrites and privately think, how utterly ghastly. Bad girls!
I know it’s mean to find these mistakes amusing, but it certainly enlivens an otherwise rather mundane day. In turn, I make my Sinhalese friends screech and laugh at my use of this language whenever they hear me. “Well,” I tell them loftily,” I jolly well get myself understood, and that’s the main thing.” Huh, the next time, I’ll spout some French at them. Anyway, right here at home I have our local Mrs. Malaprop. She just came and asked me if she’s to add celerine to the soup! She tells us she’s making boffles for dinner. Sometimes it could be patlis or cutlis! Then she comes and asks me to microbe something for her. Cheese spread is firmly called spread cheese by her, fair enough, I think. Nes coffee, peena butter, flancakes are some of her other favourite malapropisms.
You might find these applications for leave from office amusing. It’s good to laugh and relieve your stress!
“Since I have to go to my village to sell my land along with my wife, please sanction me one week’s leave.”
“ I am suffering from fever, please declare a one day holiday.”
“As I am studying in this school, I am suffering from headache. I request you to leave me today.”
A job application, “With reference to the above, please refer to my below.”
Another one, “This has reference to your advertisement calling for a typist and an accountant, male or female, as I am both for the past several years and I can handle both with good experience, I am applying for the post.”
A letter, “I am well here and hope you are also in the same well.”
These are some advertisements. You decide if they were successful or not.
‘ Lost. Apricot poodle. Reward. Neutered. Like one of the family.’
‘A superb and inexpensive restaurant. Fine foods served by waitresses in appetizing forms.’
‘Dinner special. Turkey $2.35 Chicken or beef $ 2.25. Children $ 2.00.’
‘For sale, antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.’
‘Four poster bed. 101 years old. Perfect for antique lover.’
‘Now is the perfect time to get your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too!’
‘Ladies and gentlemen, now you can have a bikini for a ridiculous figure.’
‘Tune in next week for another series of classical music programs from the Canadian Broadcorping Castration.’
So you see, the English language can be quite a tricky business. It’s a crazy language, but more than half the world’s books are in English. There are no dogs found in hot dogs. Mince pies don’t contain mincemeat like you would expect but dried, preserved fruit. Tripe is the intestine of cattle. According to this lunatical language, your house can burn up whilst it is burning down, you can fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by coming on. When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And this explains why, when I wind up my watch I am starting it, but when I wind up this column, I am finishing it!
— Honky Tonk Woman