We have all heard the saying, ‘English’ is a funny language and we have all come across instances that really don’t make much sense. But, have you really considered how funny the language is? You will probably be surprised. Here is a list of strange things about the English language.
1. Collective Nouns
One of the strange things about the English language is the number of as well as the kind of collective nouns it has. Every collective noun is specific to the group it is describing, but very often it makes no sense at all, for instance, a murder of crows, a sleuth of bears and a parliament off owls.
2. Negatives without Positives
Typically, we add ‘in’, ‘un’, ‘dis’, ‘non’ etc. as prefixes to create a negative of the root word. But, there are many words in the English language that are negative and contain these suffixes. And yet, removing these suffixes does not give you the root word, for instance, inept, disrupt, ungainly, nondescript, etc.
3. Changing Antonyms
There are many words are spelt the same, but mean different things in different contexts. The big problem with this is that their antonyms, or opposites keep changing based on the context they are used in, for instance, the antonym for right can be left or wrong based on how it is used.
4. Contronyms or Antagonyms
Contronyms or antagonyms are those freak words that are their own opposites or antonyms. For instance, bolt means secure (bolt one’s door) and at the same time can mean run away (he bolted for his life).
Heteronyms are those words in the English language that are spelt exactly the same, but they differ in pronunciation as well as meaning, for instance, bass means a guitar like stringed instrument (pronounced base) as well as a fish (pronounced bass). This is certainly one of those strange things about the English language that can leave a non-native speaker completely confused.
This has got to be the strangest part of the English language. In the case of plurals, there actually seem to be more exceptions than rules. Some bizarre cases of plurals are i) words that are spelt the same in singular and plural but pronounced differently, for instance, bourgeois. ii) words that are spelt and pronounced the same in singular and plural, for instance, sheep. iii) words that can be both singular and plural and yet have a plural form, for instance fish and fishes.
There are many proverbs in the English language, like other languages. But unlike other languages, many English proverbs contradict each other completely, for instance, ‘Knowledge is power’ and ‘Ignorance is bliss’.
These are just strange things about the English language. If you are willing to look, you are sure to find many contradictions abound in the language. How it has come to be a global language is anybody’s guess considering how difficult it can be to grasp all the rules that define it!