A Study Of The English Language

The English language can be confusing, especially to foreigners who are learning it. The following curious anecdote has a good illustration regarding this, and it also contains an ingenious collection of words: A Frenchman, while looking at a number of vessels, exclaimed, ‘See what a flock of ships!’ He was told that a flock of […]

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Ambiguous Plurals

“Axes” is the plural of both ax and axis, and “bases” is the plural of both base and basis. Based on these observations, Willard Espy, in “A Plurality of Singular Verse”, Word Ways, Vol. 7, 1974, gave the following couple of short verses: Paul Bunyan swung his ax, with view To sundering the earth in […]

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Little Paradoxes In The English Language

When I was told that “squarely defeated” and “roundly defeated” essentially mean the same thing, I began to ponder about some more curious English words or phrases. Peruse – It means to read thoroughly and attentively. However, it can also mean to skim. “Scan” also has contradictory definitions similar to “peruse”. Clip – To attach; […]

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Difficult Rhymes

It has been said that there are no rhymes (Note: The word “rhyme” is used in a strict sense, called perfect rhyme, that the words are pronounced the same from the vowel of the main stressed syllable onwards.) for purple, orange, and silver, there are these. Purple Hirple – (British) walk lamely or hobble Curple – […]

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