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 seamtress 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?
There is another more basic reason:

The overall encompassing rule of english is that any rule of english has exceptions.
example:
" 'I' before 'e' except after 'c'"

Exceptions in English go on into infinity, every exception has exceptions of its own. If a new artificial languge is to ever be created for general use (like Esperanto was intended) it will need to have clear rules for extention and possible absorption of words from other languages(the biggest source of confusion in any language)

An auxiliary language, like Lojban, can be a useful tool for intercommunication between people of different native tongues without replacing the native languages. If the language is designed well to begin with, then people won't have to (and presumably won't) add additional rules of exceptions to an auxlang. Hence an auxlang would be easier to maintain as a phonetic, easy-to-learn language over English.

A student at the University of Tokyo once told me that he sees English as having three different types: literature, vernacular, and legal, which are vastly different from each other and difficult to interpret even one of them just by knowing another.

Last updated 2/04/02.
Artificial languages are only really easy for those who already know quite a bit of them, by virtue of having much the same vocabulary and grammar in their own language. It is easy for speakers of western European languages to learn artificial variants such as Interlingua, Mundolingue, or the less attractive Esperanto.

But these people really just have the political problem of deciding which one or two or three of English, French, Spanish... shall be official international languages. For the aspiring middle class of China or Indonesia, having to learn a completely regular Spanish/French hybrid is only fractionally easier than learning a real language that millions already speak.

English is indeed the Latin of today; French held this position 200 years ago; and English is becoming more universal as time goes by.

Real English, the numberless varieties learnt in the cradle and the playground, can't be unified, can't be regularized, can't be changed or slowed by an Academy. It will be whatever it is. There will be some smoothing of differences thanks to Hollywood, but the differences accumulate faster than that.

All is not lost, however. A page of a serious book often won't tell you whether it was written and printed in Seattle, Manchester, Montreal, or Adelaide, unless it happens to contain one of the telltale minor spelling differences. There is still a common written English bereft of accent and idiom: this is sometimes called Standard English. Slang from the Simpsons reaches us all in waves of fashion at much the same time; we can write on the Web in a living English at some remove from our local dialects.

But it is real, living English: we can't artificially simplify it or make it easier for Saudis and Argentinians and Ukrainians to come to. They still have to cope with the vagaries of English.

There aren't many (natural) languages I'd say were significantly easier than natural English: probably Spanish, Persian, and Indonesian. Most languages have quite a few complications of their own, even the three I just mentioned as easier.

Of the vagaries of English, the spelling is one nightmare. We could, almost, just about, agree to do a little bit of spelling reform: write sheeld, feeld, helth, ded, bredbox, nabor, thru, laff, ruffly, without making them unrecognizable, and leave a whole lot more equally bad ones alone. That would be a start.

The grammar's not too bad, in the main. The single worst feature of the grammar is the tag question. Other languages do this so simply: "She couldn't have been caught, nicht wahr? non è vero? n'est-ce pas?"

In English you take the first auxiliary (could in the above list, not have or been), switch it to its negative, or to positive if it's already negative, contract it (will not --> won't: this contraction is obligatory, unlike in the main sentence), introduce the word do if there wasn't an auxiliary, give your verb the same tense as in the main clause, find the subject pronoun, or use the pronoun corresponding to the subject noun, invert verb and pronoun to make a question, and Bob's your uncle, innit?

To explain my last: see innit. This constant use as n'est-ce pas is beginning to spread in colloquial London English; originally associated with Indians, but now in wider use, though still not common. mirv tells me in Canadian, eh can be used with the same effect, though Cletus the Foetus points out it's only equivalent in some narrow circumstances.
First, a note to Queequeg's example #9: in British English, the verb to dive is weak, rather than strong, and consequently the dove dived into the bushes.

That said, although English is rich in curious homonyms and synonyms, it is, broadly speaking, regular. The verbs have at most five forms each, except for the verb to be, which is the most commonly irregular verb in all languages. There are some 214 'irregular' verbs, but those are mostly, if not all, simply strong verbs, and there is only one conjugation of weak verb. The nouns fall into five or six categories, of which one (the -s ending group) is huge, each with one distinctive mutation and one subsidiary one. All adjectives (except, possibly, blond/e) are invariant.

Latin verbs, for comparison, have about 120 forms, and Chippewa ones may possess as many as 6000. Admittedly, English is rich in modal verbs, but then so is Swedish, which retains separate meanings for the verbs equating to the English will and shall.

And just for entertainment, here are some problems:

The past participle of to beget is begotten, whereas in British English get goes to got. Is the British English imperfect of beget begat or begot?



What is the distinction between will and shall?

TEHRoSS says: "Shall" is only supposed to be used in the first person (I, we) and "Will" is supposed to be for 2nd/3rd.

I would like to add that this is a quaint grammarian rule, but it is sensibly derived from the Nordic roots of the language. It's acceptable for me to say that I shall do something (which derives from a usage meaning that it's certain that the thing mentioned is going to occur) but presumptive to say that someone else is certain to do something, so we say that they will do it (it is their apparent intention to do so).

wertperch says: "shall" is often used in the emphatic sense, as apposed to a vaguer "will". But that's only in the North and Scotland, I suspect...and only, I suspect, idiomatically. Bah.



Does any other language have a form, modal or proper, directly equivalent to the 'used to' construction?

Pfft tells me that the imperfect of the Swedish verb 'bruka' - 'brukade' - carries the same meaning as 'used to', while the present is used for 'usually'.

vuo says that in Finnish verb "tapaa" + a verb in the infinitive corresponds to the Swedish 'brukar', the present-tense form of the English 'used to', which is sometimes referred to as a frequensive form. 'Kirjottelen juttuja' (freq.) = 'tapaan kirjoitella juttuja' (inf. + freq.) = 'tapaan kirjottaa juttuja' (inf.) "I write stories" or "I usually write stories".

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