Funny English

(Page Two)

More amusing English peculiarities.

The History of the English Language ~ Grammar Rules for the Unenlightened ~ Phoney Phonetics
A Vision of the Future ~ You're Smarter Than You Thought

The History of the English Language

----In the beginning there was an island off the coast of Europe. It had no name, for the natives had no language, only a collection of grunts and gestures that roughly translated to "Hey!", "Gimme!") and "Pardon me, but would you happen to have any woad?"
----Then the Romans invaded it and called it Britain, because the natives were "blue, nasty, brutish [British] and short." This was the start of the importance of u (and its mispronunciation) to the language. after building some roads, killing off some of the nasty little blue people and walling up the rest, the Romans left, taking the language instruction manual with them.
----The British were bored so they invited the barbarians to come over (under Hengist) and "Horsa" 'round a bit. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes brought slightly more refined vocal noises.
----All the vocal sounds of this primitive language were onomatopoeic, being derived from the sounds of weapons striking a foe. "Sss" and "th" for example are the sounds of a draw cut, "k" is the sound of a solidly landed axe blow, "b" and "d" are the sounds of a head dropping onto rock and sod respectively, and "gl" is the sound of a body splashing into a bog. Vowels (which were either gargles in the back of the throat or sharp exhalations) were derived from the sounds the foe himself made when struck.
----The barbarians had so much fun that they decided to stay for post-revel. The British, finding that they had lost future use of the site, moved into the hills to the west and called themselves Welsh.
----The Irish, having heard about language from Patrick, came over to investigat. When they saw the shiny vowels, they pried them loose and took them home. They then raided Wales and stole both their cattle and their vowels, so the poor Welsh had to make do with sheep and consonants. ("Old Ap Ivor hadde a farm, L Y L Y W! And on that farm he hadde somme gees. With a dd dd here and a dd dd there ...")
----To prevent future raids, the Welsh started calling themselves "Cymry" and gave even longer names to their villages. They figured if no one could pronounce the name of their people or the names of their towns, then no one would visit them. (The success of the tactic is demonstrated still today. How many travel agents have you heard suggest a visit to scenic Llyddumlmunnyddthllywddu?)
----Meantime, the Irish brough all the shiny new vowels home to Erin. But of course they didn't know that there was once an instruction manual for them, so they scattered the vowels throughout the language purely as ornaments. Most of the new vowels were not pronounced at all, and the rest were pronounced differently depending on which kind of consonant they either preceded or followed.
----Next the Danes came over and saw the pretty vowels bedecking all the Irish words. "Ooooh!" they said. They raided Ireland and brough the vowels back home with them. However, the Vikings couldn't keep track of all the Irish rules so they simply pronounced all the vowels "oouuoo."
----In the meantime, the French had invaded Britain, which was populated by descendants of the Germanic Angles, Saxons and Jutes. After a generation or two, the people were speaking German with a French accent and calling it English. Then the Danes invaded again, crying, "Oouuoo! Oouuoo!," burning abbeys and trading with the townspeople.
----The Britons that an invasion by the Romans didn't kill, intermarried with visiting Irish and became Scots. Against the advice of their travel agents, the decided to have a trip to Wales. (The Scots couln't read the signposts that said, "This way to Llyddyllwwddymmllwylldd," but they could smell the sheep a league away.) The Scots took the sheep home with them and made some of them into haggis. What they made with the others it's impossible to say, but Scots are known to this day for having hairy legs.
----The former Welsh, being totally bereft, moved down out of the hills and into London. Because they were the only people in the islands who played flutes instead of bagpipes, they were called Tooters. This made them very popular. In short order, Henry Tooter got elected King and began popularising ornate, unflattering cothing.
----Soon, everybody was wearing over-adorned dress, playing the flute, speaking German with a French accent, pronouncing all their vowels "oouuoo"" (which was fairly easy given the French accent) and making lots of money in the wool trade. Because they were rich, people smiled more (remember, at this time "Beowulf" and "Canterbury Tales" were the only tabloids and gave generally favourable reviews even to the Danes). And since it is next to impossible to keep your vowels in the back of your throat (even if you do speak German with a French accent) while smiling and saying "oouuoo", the Great Vowel Shift came about and tranformed the English language.
----The very richest had their vowels shifted out in front of their teeth. They settled in Manchester and later Boston.
----There were a few poor souls who, cut off from the economic prosperity of the wool trade, continued to swallow their vowels. They wandered the countryside in misery and despair until they came to the docks of London, where their dialect devolved into the incomprehensible language known as Cockney. Later, it was taken overseas and further brutalised by merging it with Dutch and Italian to create Brooklynese.
----Thats what happened, you can check for yourself


Grammar Rules for the Unenlightened
(Or: How to Write Good)

Do not use no double negatives.
Don't never use no triple negatives.
No sentence fragments.
Stamp out and eliminate redundancy.
Avoid clichés like the plague.
All generalisations are bad.
Take care that your verb and subject is in agreement.
A preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.
Avoid those run-on sentences that just go on and on, they never stop, they just keep rambling and you really wish they would hurry up and get to the point, but no, they just keep going and these sentences, they just never stop, they go on forever ... if you get my drift ...
You should never use the second person.
The passive voice should never be used.
When dangling, watch your participles.
Never go off at tangents, which are lines that intersect a curve at only one point and were discovered by Euclid, who lived in the sixth century, which was an era dominated by the Goths, who lived in what is now known as Poland ...
Excessive use of exclamation marks can be disastrous!!!!
Remember to end each sentence with a full stop
Do not use commas, which aren't necessary.
Do not use question marks inappropriately?
Don't be terse.
Do not obfuscate your writing with extraneous verbiage.
Avoid tumbling off the cliff of triteness into the black abyss of overused metaphors.
Avoid those despicably horrible, outrageously repellent exaggerations.
Avoid any awfully anachronistic aggravating antediluvian alliterations.
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.


Phoney Phonetics

One reason why I cannot spell,
Although I learned the rules quite well
Is that some words like coup and through
Sound like threw and flue'and who;
When oo is never spelled the same,
The juice becomes a guessing game;
And then I ponder over though,
Is it spelled so or throw or bow,
I mean the bow that sounds like plow
And not the bow that sounds like row -
The row that is pronounced like roe.
I wonder, too, why rough and tough,
Why isn't drought spelled just like route,
Or doubt or pout or sauerkraut?
When words all sound so much the same
To change the spelling seems a shame.
There is no sense - see sounds like cents -
In making suche a difference
Between the sight and sound of words;
Each spelling rule that undergirds
The way a word should look will fail
And often prove to no avail
Because exceptions will negate
The truth of what the rule may state;
That sound the same as gruff and muff,
Are spelled like bough and through, for they
Are both pronounced a different way.
And why can't I spell trough and cough
The same as I do scoff and golf?
So though I try, I still despair
And moan and mutter "It's not fair
That I'm held up to ridicule
And made to look like such a fool?"


A Vision of the Future

Having chosen English as the preferred language in the EEC, the European Parliament has commissioned a feasibility study in ways of improving efficiency in communications between Government departments.

European officials have often pointed out that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult; for example: cough, plough, rough, through and thorough. What is clearly needed is a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies. The programme would, of course, be administered by a committee staff at top level by participating nations.

In the first year, for example, the committee would suggest using 's' instead of the soft 'c'. Sertainly, sivil servants in all sities would resieve this news with joy. Then the hard 'c' could be replaced by 'k' sinse both letters are pronounsed alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but typewriters kould be made with one less letter.

There would be growing enthusiasm when in the sekond year, it was anounsed that the troublesome 'ph' would henseforth be written 'f'. This would make words like 'fotograf' twenty per sent shorter in print.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reash the stage where more komplikated shanges are possible. Governments would enkourage the removal of double letters which have always been a deterent to akurate speling.

We would al agre that the horible mes of silent 'e's in the languag is disgrasful. Therefor we kould drop thes and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend. By this tim it would be four years sins the skem began and peopl would be reseptive to steps sutsh as replasing 'th' with 'z'. Perhaps zen ze finktion of 'w' kould be taken on by 'v', vitsh is, after al, half a 'w'. Shortly after zis, ze unesesary 'o' kould be dropd from words kontaining 'ou'. Similar arguments vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of letters.

Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli have a reli sensibl riten styl. After tventi yers zer vud be no mor trubls, difikultis and evrivun vud fin it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drems of the Guvernmnt vud finali have kum tru.


You're Smarter Than You Thought

According to a sutdy at Hrravad Unerstiivy msot pelope can raed and unadetnrsd any mxied up wrod as lnog as the frsit leettr and the lsat lteter are in palce. This is bcesaue we raed wrods as a wolhe and not as leretts in oderr.

So y'oure smraetr tahn you thohgut hhu?