Inside the English Maze

Illustration of a complex brick maze.
If you have been following my posts, you already know that I’ve been trying very hard to understand the English language for many years. Still I feel there’s a lot of terrain to cover. For me, English is a very challenging language, perhaps because it’s my second language and also because it’s based on a different culture. My native language is Spanish and I live in Panama in Central America.

If you are also studying English as a second language, you might find yourself pulling your hair now and then during Grammar classes. As an example of how demanding English is, I’ve selected 25 examples of contradictory English words which add to the difficulty of the language. I haven’t double checked if all examples are true, so if you find an inaccurate statement, please let me know so I can go ahead can correct it. Here we go.

1. A firefly is not a fly – it is a beetle.

2. A prairie dog is not a dog – it is a rodent.

3. India ink is not from India – it is from China and Egypt.

4. A horned toad is not a toad – it is a lizard.

5. A lead pencil does not contain lead – it contains graphite.

6. A douglas fir is not a fir – it is a pine.

7. A silkworm is not a worm – it is a caterpillar.

8. A peanut is not a nut – it is a legume.

9. A panda bear is not a bear – it is a relative of the raccoon.

10. An English horn is not English and it isn’t a horn – it is a French alto oboe.

11. A guinea pig is not from Guinea and it is not a pig – it is a rodent from South America.

12. Shortbread is not a bread – it is a thick cookie.

13. Dresden China is not from Dresden – it is from Meissen in Germany.

14. A shooting star is not a star – it is a meteorite.

15. A funny bone is not a bone – it is the spot where the ulnar nerve touches the humerus.

16. Chop suey is not a native Chinese dish – it was invented by Chinese immigrants in California.

17. A bald eagle is not bald – it has flat white feathers on its head and neck when mature, and dark feathers when young.

18. A banana tree is not a tree – it is a herb.

19. A cucumber is not a vegetable – it is a fruit.

20. A jackrabbit is not a rabbit – it is a hare.

21. A piece of catgut is not from a cat – it is usually made from sheep intestines.

22. A Mexican jumping bean is not a bean – it is a seed with a larva inside.

23. A Turkish bath is not Turkish – it is Roman.

24. A koala bear is not a bear – it is a marsupial.

25. A sweetbread is not a bread – it is the pancreas or thymus gland from a calf or lamb.

Even though English is like a complicated maze, it is still one of the most widely used languages in the world. It also includes the most advanced technological terms. Being English a Lingua Franca, it is definitely an advantage understanding how it works.

Source: Bits & Pieces

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