Monday, February 16, 2009

Nunc Acceptable Tempus

I have always felt it a blessing that I grew up with English as my native language, cause I sure as hell would have never been able to get my head around it. It has to be said that it's deeply flawed when it comes to logic.

Exhibit A. I before E, except after C.

Oh but, then there's all those exceptions.

Who had mixed their meds when they came up with that rule? They're letters for goodness sake, there's hardly extenuating circumstances, it's not like they have feelings or allergies to consider. (Yes I am talking to you; beige, cleidoic, codeine, conscience, deify, deity, deign,dreidel, eider, eight, either, feign, feint, feisty,foreign, forfeit, freight, gleization, gneiss, greige,greisen, heifer, heigh-ho, height, heinous, heir, heist,leitmotiv, neigh, neighbor, neither, peignoir, prescient,rein, science, seiche, seidel, seine, seismic, seize, sheik,society, sovereign, surfeit, teiid, veil, vein, weight,weir and weird)

I do think Latin gives English a run for its money (no surprises there). I took Latin for a year at school, which was a sensational waste of my Latin teacher's time. Sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt. Laudō, laudās, laudat, laudāmus, laudātis, laudant. And that's about the sum total of my Latin knowledge, I bet my teacher was really pleased she wasn't paid by the word.

Needless to say there's not much hope I will get my head around Mandarin anytime soon, either.
Or Russian.

But the thing is, chances are I will be able to get by without speaking fluent Russian or Mandarin, however if I was Russian or Chinese, I would be picking that English would be handy.

In the weekend I read a quote from Doug Larson who nailed it, 'If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.'

And an attitude.

6 comments:

Holemaster said...

Wow I never noticed all those exceptions to the i before e rule. I think your native tongue just comes so naturally to you that you don't even know the rules. But if you start to think about them, you might get stuck, like thinking how your legs work while running down stairs (don't ever do that).

laughykate said...

I agree, when I was teaching (truly appalling) English in Tokyo I got asked all sorts of grammatical questions about terms that I'd never heard of. My standard answer was 'That's not important right now.'

And if you ever are introduced to a Japanese businessman and he greets you with, 'Gidday mate', he was most probably taught by me. ('Yes that is the proper formal greeting for a business meeting Mr Watanabe').

Bruno said...

Think you might find that heading should be "Nunc acceptabile tempus" - you obviously didn't pay attention in those Latin lessons!

laughykate said...

Hah! You're right.

Even worse, it was our school motto! Which my father told me was, 'Don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow.'

Janie Jones said...

Ahh. I know extremely little about Latin, or any other language besides (American) English, and of my own language I profess to know little. So, who am I to judge?

But, from what I understand from a Roman scholar I know, the famous "Veni Vidi Vici" actually was pronounced with the "W" sound, as in "Weni Widi Wici."

So cool, so manly those Romans.

laughykate said...

That's very funny. Cwrazy Wromans.