7 Head-Scratching Curiosities of the English Language [Infographic]

Posted 22 Dec 2015, by


Navigating the English language can be a bit like trying to tame a wild bull.

Just when you think you’ve wrangled it into submission, you’re thrown in the mud and treated to a kick in the head. It’s a language filled with contradictory grammatical rules, seemingly senseless common expressions, bizarre spellings, and overall semantic tomfoolery.

The linguistic lunacy is strongly influenced by the fact that English is a language derived from so many different sources—Latin, Greek, French, German, and Dutch most of all, with a few other distant relatives dropping by the table to pitch in their nonsensical two cents.

If you’re looking for hard and fast rules for learning and practicing English, it’s important to remember it’s all about making room for exceptions. It’s a language in which things can both “burn up” and “burn down,” where items sent on a ship are referred to as “cargo” and those loaded in a car are called “shipments,” where your nose can “run” and your feet can “smell.”

If you’re going to navigate the language successfully, you’ll need patience, determination, and a healthy sense of humor. Just “take it all with a grain of salt” as the saying goes.

English is a language full of oddities and contradictions, so the next time someone criticizes your grammar or points out a vocabulary or proofreading blunder in your dissertation, you have every right to say: “when it comes to English, it’s all Greek to me.”

With 335 million native English speakers, and up to a further 1.2 billion English as a second language speakers around the world, take a little comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in your bewilderment. English is the third most popular language in the world, but arguably the most difficult to learn and practice.

Here’s 7 English language curiosities to scratch your head at:

7 Head-Scratching Curiosities of the English Language [Infographic]

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