on english

Something that brightened up my dark and rainy Monday morning:

Imperfect way to perfect English

THE air is abuzz with clever comments on the use of the English Language. The words “bring” and “take” invariably arise, with experts feeling amused or annoyed.

Why can’t I bring a cake to your house if that brings you happiness and I wish you all the best? If I take the cake, why do I also take a bus to your house? Does taking medicine daily mean putting it in your pocket every day?

Shouldn’t we relax when the alarm goes off? If the past tense of teach is taught why is preach not praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, shouldn’t a humanitarian eat humans? Do you know the fish market has run out of stocks while the stock market is fishy? And the list goes on.

My point is – why do we constantly lambast ourselves for something that is inherently not perfect? Why can’t we just let the “perfect people” speak “perfect English” with one another while we enjoy the language as it is – adding our own ingredients at times – possibly making it better than before.

To those who agree with me, lunch is on me. No, don’t put the noodles on my back. Let me foot the bill, or bill my foot, as the case may be.

Daniel Chan

The Straits Times Online Forum, 10 October 2011

And – yes, Virginia, ghoti is pronounced fish.


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