Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Quirky Mother Tongue

'English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where 'cleave' can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word ';set' has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; and where 'colonel,' 'freight,' 'once' and 'ache' are strikingly at odds with their spellings.'
--former London Times copyeditor-turned author Bill Bryson, from his book, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer's Guide to Getting it Right


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