We who have spoken English all our lives take many of its oddities for granted, but even natives will find some of these interesting. They are some more "gleanings" from various e-mails.
For example, see how many of these you can read correctly the first time:
• The farm was used to produce produce.
• He could lead if he would get the lead out.
• The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
• I did not object to the object.
• The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
• They were too close to the door to close it.
• The buck does funny things when does are present.
• The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
• Upon seeing the tear in the painting I cried a tear.
• How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Here are some interesting observations: There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger, neither apple nor pine in pineapple. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which are not sweet, are meat. 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, two geese, so one moose, two meese? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Why do we have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a wise man and a wise guy be opposites? Why doesn't Buick rhyme with quick?
Depending upon the dictionary you use, you can find about 30 or more definitions for the two-letter word "up."
It's easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up? At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up, why are officers up for election, and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report? We call up our friends. We use something to brighten up a room, polish up the silver. We warm up leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and some guys fix up old cars.
Sometimes that little word has real special meaning: People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite and think up excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed up is special.
If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways you can think up that up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don't give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more.
One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it up for now, and just shut up.
Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.