If you have been following Lingua Franca for some time, you surely know how fond I am of the English language, even if it is not my native tongue. There are so many nice things I could say about English, but it would be too long to explain them here.
As interesting and rich as this language is, it is not an easy task to learn it or for the faint of heart. I’ve been concentrated on learning its rules since I was six, but it hasn’t been a bed of roses. English can drive you nuts, if you understand what I mean.
I have several examples to prove my point. Below are correct English sentences which are very difficult to grasp, unless you have a deep knowledge of the language. Here we go.
a. “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.”
b. “All the faith he had had had had no effect on his life.”
c. “Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot.
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.”
d. “You had just begun reading the sentence you just finished reading.”
e. “The horse race past the barn fell.”
f. “I sometimes read read as read, when it’s supposed to be read as read.”
g. “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”
Let’s clear up this idiomatic mess. Buffalo, is a noun, a city, and verb which means “to intimidate“. The sentence plays on reduced relative clauses, different part-of-speech readings of the same work, and center embedding, all in the same sentence. Read it again and again, until you get the following meaning: “Bison from Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison in the community, also happen to intimidate other bison in their community.” Got it?
i. “I see“, said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.
j. I never said she stole my money. If you place an emphasis on one word at a time, it changes the meaning. For example: I never said she stole my money. I never said she stole my money. I never said she stole my money. And so on and so forth.
k. Have you ever noticed that read rhymes with lead, and read rhymes with lead. Also read and lead don’t rhyme. Neither does read and lead.
After reading these sentences, are you having a headache and your head is spinning round and round like a merry-go-round? I understand. English is a crazy language.