Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baffled by the English Language

I've been thinking lately about how fascinating and strange the English language is. For some reason I always find myself in the midst of conversations and discussions about words. My friends come to me with questions because they have somehow gotten it into their heads that I am an expert. The truth is something else entirely. I make it up. Or I make an educated guess to answer their questions. But seriously, they will come to me with one problem or another that they have found with words and I will answer in a know it all voice as I make it up. I am as clueless as they are when it comes to some words.
 Today I was wondering why "ax" is sometimes spelled with an "e". Is it just personal preference or is one spelling more correct than the other? My NIV Bible uses "ax" and my ESV and NASB Bibles use "axe". You would think that since more versions use axe with an "e" that it would be the correct way to spell axe. But ax without an "e" is listed first in my Dictionary. I usually write it without the "e" but other times I use an "e". Nothing but the mood I am in decides which it will be.
 I was reading a book with some friends and we came across the word "hoofs". I say hooves, not hoofs. My friends laughed at that. But it is just as correct.
Why is it that the plural for leaf is leaves but the plural for dwarf is dwarfs? Both dwarfs and dwarves are listed in my Dictionary as acceptable. So which am I supposed to use? J. R.R. Tolkien used the term dwarves in his Lord of The Rings Books because he felt it was more correct, but C.S. Lewis used dwarfs in his books about Narnia. How do I choose when the scholars can't agree?
Why is it the pique means to feel irritated but also means to stimulate one's interest? How are those the same thing? They aren't!
Goose. Geese. Moose. Why not Meese? Why are deer and sheep and moose singular and plural? Were we bored of making new words for plurality?
We have seals to close things and hold things together and we have seals to watch and admire at the ocean beach.
I haven't even begun to scratch the surface yet of all the absurdities of the English language. How does one wade through the murky waters of such a language? Do you just dog paddle or back stroke as you see fit? Each to his own? Every man doing what seems right in his own eyes? Now that I have raised the question I should offer an answer. Give a solution. Unfortunately, I am asking this question because I do not have an answer. I am often confused and baffled as to what words I should use because sometimes it just doesn't make sense.


  1. I agree with the absurdity of the English language on all counts! But would like to point out that the reason ax comes before axe in the dictionary is alphabetizing not because it's more right.... which is kind of the way you wrote that comment. Create your own dictionary is the solution! :)

  2. I did not even think about the fact that it is in alphabetical order. Silly me! :) I think I will create my own dictionary with my favorite words like confuzzled and redonkulous in there for kicks and grins. :)

  3. Back Stroke all the way... Language is all made up anyway so just make up more!


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