Crazy Language Learning


Over the past few weeks I have been doing something that I never thought I would ever do in Spanish…. Make jokes.

I thought that to make a joke in a language you had to really know the language inside out, but either my jokes are terrible or my Spanish is improving. :)

Anyway, the battle with the Spanish language has been a long one, and I still have a looooooong way to go, but I can safely say that it is easier to learn than English is for a Spanish person.

The good thing about Spanish is that things are pronounced exactly as they are spelt. Infact, if you are speaking to a Spanish person and they say a word you don’t understand then you could ask them to spell the word for you. But instead of spelling it letter by letter they would simply just repeat the word but say it a little bit slower. The reason for this is because what you hear is what you get! there are no silent letters or words spelt the same but pronounced differently, and for that reason I am glad I am an English person learning Spanish than the other way around.

Don’t believe me?

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to
present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn’t
preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

People recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

If you want further proof that this language of ours is utter chaos, then here is something that was written by Dr. Gerald Nolst Trenite (1870-1946), a Dutch observer of English.

Try reading this aloud and try and imagine how hard it would be for a NON native english person. Apparantly a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.

The Chaos

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough –
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

So next time I complain about struggling with the Spanish language I will have a read of the above and thank god that I don’t have to spend the next 10 years trying to understand it. ;)


  • Gav

    Easiest joke in any language (even I can do it in Spanish)

    A man walks into a library, and asks the woman for fish, chips and mushy peas.
    “Shh!” Whispers the woman “THIS IS A LIBRARY!”
    “Oh, sorry!” Whispers the man “Fish, chips and mushy peas please!”

    Obviously not that funny, but easily translatable, all in the present tense too! Oh, and substitute a meal of your choice from a local menu (I recommend some tortilla, jamon and a Cruscampo!)

    Current score: 0
  • Dean Hunt


    Nice one Gav.

    I am looking forward to hearing your Spanish version ;)

    Tortilla, jamon y Cruzcampo, you have made me very hungry now.


    Current score: 0
    • jane

      i know spanish a little pit a bit

      Current score: 0
  • Luis

    I am 100% sure Spanish is easier to pronounce than English; so is German. But easier overall?
    Let’s start with verbs. The most commonly used verbs are irregular. 10 tenses are simple (i.e. not compound), so for these tenses, for the most commonly used verbs you have to learn 6 forms per tense/verb, for a total of 60 per verb against 2 (past and perferct) and remember to add an s in the third singular person. To be, in Spanish is actually 2 verbs (“ser” and “estar”).
    Nouns have a gender, and you also have a declination in adjectives (ok, this is fairly easy, since it mostly goes by rules), except for some exceptions.
    And when you think you are getting it, you learn that you have around 10 different accents, depending on the country (heck, you even have notoriously different accents in large cities!), and even native speakers make several mistakes.
    I also tried learning German, and I’ve faced some of the difficulties Spanish learners must have, even though I am fluent in Spanish, English and French. I pity you guys, it is really difficult!

    Current score: 0
  • Arnaldo

    Jajaja, me he reido como no te imaginas. Tremendo articulo, distes en el clavo. Great article. Im still laughting,

    Current score: 0
  • I would not say that english is harder than spanish, cuz in english you just have 24 tenses, 12 active tenses and 12 pasive tenses, i think you have to study more about spanish, cuz in spanish there are more than 24 ;) , it is true that most of spanish people doesn’t even know how to pronounce english but there are some tips that you can learn to improve your english, i speak both, so i know what i’m talking about, better luck next time…

    Current score: 0
  • Dean Hunt

    “i think you have to study more about spanish, cuz in spanish there are more than 24″

    Yes, I know there are more than 24, I know them ALL.

    But, in my opinion the past tense alone makes English harder than Spanish.

    Also, English has weird things like:

    The plane took off

    The man got up

    These literally make no sense, and for non natives they must be almost impossible to understand.

    Current score: 0
  • Teacher Paul

    Dean, I agree about the phrasal verbs: they’re a mess. Try to teach something like this to someone whose native language is not English, but something–say–almost diametrically opposed such as Mandarin.

    “I’m going to go (already we have problems, yes?) tuck into (ok, break out [!] the defibrillator!) a tasty serving (oh my god, gerunds!) of ground chicken.”

    Current score: 0
  • Jane Levington

    I want to learn speaking Spanish. I know it is not easy learning to speak other language. For me, it is easier to learn English because that is already included on the curriculum of education.

    Current score: 0
  • 52tube

    Jajaja, me he reido como no te imaginas. Tremendo articulo, distes en el clavo. Great article. Im still laughting,

    Current score: 0
  • sarah

    bla bla bla bla me ha ki lamu mutu bielku makya ponaya

    Current score: 0