10 things I hate about English

Published: August 14, 2011
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Can somebody please tell me, that if the plural of foot is feet, then why is the plural of boot not ‘beet’?

Can somebody please tell me, that if the plural of foot is feet, then why is the plural of boot not ‘beet’?

1.     The inanity of having a hundred and one pronunciations for the same word. And the ‘more-educated-than-thou’ clans’ insistence that only their version of the pronunciation is accurate. ‘Root’ and ‘raoot’ for ‘route’ anyone?

2.     The endless conflict between British and American spellings. During my internship at a newspaper, my effortless ease with American spellings drew the wrath of my boss who insisted on British spellings.

3.    The way hordes of confused Star World-watching teenagers feel the need to fake their accent, sometimes slipping from fake-British to fake-American in the same sentence.

4.    The need to widen your mouth to near offensive lengths for lucid pronunciation. One of my instructors at university stressed that Western languages require one to ‘open the mouth very widely’, for increased clarity. Really, I am not surprised that the Black Death spread so quickly in Europe.

5.    The slang. ‘Gotta’, ‘lotta’, ‘sorta’, ‘kinda’. Chal bay!

6.    The non-existence of differentiated pronouns. The honey-sweet warmth of ‘aap’ can never be captured by the brusqueness of ‘you’ — which can readily be used to address anyone from your two-year-old niece to your mother’s decrepit aunt.

7.    How words can mean different things but sound the same. Imagine uttering sentences like:  “The scheme was invalid for the invalid”, “The large number of injections made her jaw number”, “The dove dove in the pond”.

8.    Love is a many splendoured thing…except in English. You can ‘love’ your beloved and at the same time ‘love’ fruit chat. Compare that with the enticing Urdu alternatives of  ‘pyar’, ‘ishq’, ‘mohabbat’, ‘chahat’, ‘ulfat’, ‘dillagi’.

9.    The insipidity of some kinds of English literature. Start with a finicky, orphan girl, thrown in a rich lord, an affected aunt or two, a poor love-struck bloke — and there you go. That’s a Jane Austen/Charlotte Bronte masterpiece for you.

10.    Can somebody please tell me, that if the plural of foot is feet, then why is the plural of boot not ‘beet’? Similarly, if the plural of mouse is mice, why is the plural of house not ‘hice’?

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 14th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (43)

  • jords
    Aug 14, 2011 - 1:00PM

    hahaha…=)) n continuning 10 .. wat of pronouncin ‘but’ n ‘put’…. :)

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 1:32PM

    Right :D

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  • Subhani
    Aug 14, 2011 - 1:39PM

    Interesting Stuff.Really good observation in points 7 & 9 .

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  • proudpaki
    Aug 14, 2011 - 1:46PM

    and you’re letting it out in an English language newspaper blog – Oh the Irony :)

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 2:16PM

    Not funny at all. Not even informative. Surprised this has been published.

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  • Usman Ahmad
    Aug 14, 2011 - 3:08PM

    English language is by the rules of grammar a stupid language..makes no sense at all!

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 4:57PM

    Haha, I found this HIGHLY amusing. Number five toh bhai! CHAL BEY. lol.

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  • Emaar Kasbati
    Aug 14, 2011 - 5:00PM

    Well in our society it is often very common to hear Urdu gives vivid explanation with terminology of reverence… And it would be author, if it came to a believe that languages should never be compared… Each and every language has it is own literature, its own taste…. In other words, each language has a different world…

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  • Henna
    Aug 14, 2011 - 5:02PM

    I didn’t like this article.Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Aug 14, 2011 - 5:35PM

    One of the reasons for many students, going to Urdu Medium schools, dropping out is that they find English so tough and confusing. Agree with Faiza Rahman. Liked the article

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 5:42PM

    Hahahahhahahaahaa…
    :D

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  • Shamama Firdous
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:03PM

    Sorry to “burst the bubble”, but both the English and Urdu languages are an ‘amalgamation’ of other languages!!! We haven’t a single word of our own in this beautiful ‘evolutionary language’ we call ‘Urdu’. We are just lucky we borrowed from “better ones”, like ARABIC, PERSIAN, SANSKIRIT to name a few… Even the name of the language ‘URDU’ is a Persian word meaning ‘Lashkar’! :)
    Having said that, I really wish you to own a thesaurus for when you look up the word ‘love’, you would find thousands of words used for this one word as synonyms. Just because people around you have ‘limited vocabulary’, it isn’t the language’s fault. I understand that this article was an attempt at humor but it needs to be factual nevertheless…

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 6:05PM

    Oh, wow. Sacrilege.

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  • WhoWasThatMaskedMan
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:06PM

    No. 6&8, FTW! :)

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  • Tariq Rind
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:39PM

    Thank you for pin pointing the fake accent pandemic.

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  • S.Khan
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:44PM

    very amusing. excellent!

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  • White Russian
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:55PM

    You ‘ll find 1000 more reasons. Just try never allowing your hate to falter.

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  • ???
    Aug 14, 2011 - 6:59PM

    Its is true that English doesnt much words in godown of its vocabulary

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  • H.S
    Aug 14, 2011 - 7:40PM

    why dont u go write for an urdu newspaper then :O
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  • AK
    Aug 14, 2011 - 8:05PM

    Concerning number 7:

    1) Invalid as an adjective (i.e. something “not valid”) rhymes with salad – in-VAH-lid”
    Invalid as a noun (describing a ‘sick person’) – is pronounced in-vuh-LID.

    2) The bird “dove”, rhymes with “love”. The verb “dove”, rhymes with “stove”.

    3) This one is open to debate. But, according to many dictionaries, “number” is not correct English. The favoured comparative for a state of increasing numbness is “more numb”. Thus: “The large number of injections made her jaw more numb”.
    Also : “numBer”, in telephone “numBer” has a hard B.
    “Number” (if it exists, as a state of increasing numbness), would be pronounced “NUMMER” – without the B.

    Living up to the stereotype mocked, I have to point out that matters of pronunciation mean these two sentences do not contain words which “sound the same”!
    An enjoyable article, all the same. :)

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  • Aug 14, 2011 - 8:05PM

    The slang. ‘Gotta’, ‘lotta’, ‘sorta’, ‘kinda’. Chal bay!
    hahhahaha!

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  • Iqra
    Aug 14, 2011 - 10:07PM

    Hahahaha good observations! LOVEEE the 5th one! :P

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  • sameer
    Aug 14, 2011 - 10:10PM

    Chal Bay!!! an enjoyable article, thank you faiza :)

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  • samreen jabbar
    Aug 14, 2011 - 11:22PM

    yeah, i found it funny, but not worthy to be printed anywhere. sounds more like some kind of relaxing chat with a friend.

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  • Cautious
    Aug 14, 2011 - 11:57PM

    Just figuring out that learning English is a PIA?

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  • Ranchoddas Chanchad
    Aug 15, 2011 - 3:22AM

    beautiful. loved the piece. at least someone has a subtle sense of humor, unlike others. “Depressed souls”

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  • Hagrid
    Aug 15, 2011 - 3:52AM

    Wow! Gave me quite a few laughs… 5,8 and 9 were the funniest =D

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  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Aug 15, 2011 - 8:36AM

    Very interesting article.
    @ Shamama Firdous, Please anyone correct me if I am wrong. Urdu is a Turkish word not Persian.

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  • Mary Jane Hamilton
    Aug 15, 2011 - 12:44PM

    Not at all amusing. The author seems to have a limited vocabulary and paralyzed observation of the English language.

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  • Tanzeela Afzal
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:24PM

    @ Shamma Urdu is a Turkish word.

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  • the obscurantist
    Aug 15, 2011 - 2:38PM

    o cmon guys…u r sooooo sick seriously..dont you have some sense of humor?? atleast at the end of a depressing day someone[like the author] brings us stuff to laugh at and you guys still tryna probe in for facts…so much sorry for depressed U’s..!!

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  • Aug 15, 2011 - 3:23PM

    Urdu is such a beautiful language! I am an ex-student of Osmania Medical College Hyderabad India. Please google it dear readers. Initially medicine was taught in Urdu at this lovely college. But then English took over. But most of our professors [ even the Hindu ones] spoke beautiful Urdu. It was a dream life then.

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  • Wizard of Oz
    Aug 15, 2011 - 6:32PM

    Though the article is written lightly, some points are valid and others are just plain not true. There are many words for love in English and the English masterpieces have many more plots than those described. Also ‘aap’ may add a respectful warmth but it also creates a status based culture. Other linguistic complaints such as same words and rules for making plurals etc. are valid on their own but should not be compared to URDU which has exact same problems and more, (it does not even have vowels so no one can really read a word unless they have heard it before and make a timely and fortunate guess! ) Take example of “ye kal, kal laanaa” (bring this cog tomorrow) or ” woh is baar apna baar nahii;n uThaa saktaa ” ( This time he can’t pull his weight) etc. etc.
    If the author was trying to be funny, she should have picked relevant points and NOT compared them to Urdu.

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  • EZ
    Aug 16, 2011 - 4:43AM

    Oh sorry but Urdu cant really contain sci-fi sort of novels/language either. But anyway, amusing article.

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  • Waqeel Hindvi
    Aug 16, 2011 - 12:03PM

    @Shamama Firdous:
    True! True! True! It is because Urdu shares the more logical syntax of Hindvi, which derives from an even more rigid and strict rules driven structure of Sanskrit, that it has internalized Arabic and Persian words effortlessly. This has given it immense flexibility, in its combination of words creatively; while keeping the strong foundation of syntax.
    .
    Yet, if you contrast the Farsi script with that of Devnagari (Sanskrit > Hindi),
    it falls short in its logical structure, much in the same way, English lacks
    cogency in pronunciation and phonetics. Because, in Devnagari script,
    alphabets are arranged according to groups of five,
    based on their position of pronunciation within the mouth,
    starting from the back of the mouth (throat) to the middle (tongue)
    and finally to the front of the mouth (lips). This combined with the use of
    diacritical marks and the ability of consonants to be broken and mixed with each other,
    (again using very fixed rules, almost like mathematics or chemistry formulas);
    helps give even more consistency to the written word and pronunciation.
    In its near 100% symbiosis between the written word and pronunciation,
    Hindi / Sanskrit is unparalleled.
    .
    But, Urdu, is an amazing amalgamation. It has by accident or by design,
    taken the strongest of grammatical syntax and merged it with the beauty of words,
    from Arabic and Persian and English and Sanskrit. I was listening to a speech by the
    late Jagannath Azad (of whom, I read in context of the controversy about Pakistan’s first national anthem) on YouTube. He said that Urdu is the one language that teaches you not just Adaab, but also Adab. Think of that! It teaches you not just the art of conversation,
    but grounds you in the basics of civilisation. That is what, all strong linguistic traditions, should seek to do. The day we give up our language, will be the day we will stop being ourselves. But try telling that to a generation, that has decided to speak English though the fake nasal twang acquired from the microwave rays beamed direct to home.

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  • Shaza
    Aug 17, 2011 - 1:56PM

    loved “aapka” article jinaab

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  • Chal Bay
    Aug 17, 2011 - 3:30PM

    Point no 11. why DO, TO and GO are being pronounced differently?

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  • Vigilant
    Aug 18, 2011 - 2:40PM

    Nice and Unique Article…. :-)

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  • True Believer
    Aug 18, 2011 - 10:23PM

    @Waqeel Hindvi:

    It is so refreshing to read a comment from someone who understands the roots of Urdu. How many know that present day Persian too derives from Avestan (which is related to Sanskrit) and Arabic.

    Urdu is a metaphor for the Pakistani identity. Once we realize that, then and only then, will Pakistan as a nation & Pakistanis as a people will become sweet and civilized.

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  • Cynical
    Aug 19, 2011 - 9:52PM

    @Emmar Kasbati
    @Shamama Firdous
    @Wizard of Oz
    @EZ
    @Waqeel Hindvi
    @True Believer

    Thanks to all. I have learnt something new from all of you.Recommend

  • Adeel
    Aug 22, 2011 - 2:47AM

    dont you realize the advantage of “YOU” which is equality and i think “you” should be translated only as “aap” in urdu and not “tum”
    and i dont agree with no.8, what does urdu give you with a lot of synonyms for that word we all know that for a long time the nature of urdu poetry remained “ishq-mohabbat” so what else do you expectRecommend

  • Shamama Firdous
    Sep 3, 2011 - 5:32AM

    @Tanzeela Afzal: Thanks Tanzeela, yes its a Turkish word…

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  • kashif
    Sep 3, 2011 - 11:55AM

    just time pass and sense less article ,

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