Crazy English - a History

Andrew Dow

Dictionaries define CRAZY as; insane, erratic, lacking in reason and generally a bit wild.

Well, that definitely sums up John’s English Club nicely, but what about the English language?

Just stop for a second and think of an example of a crazy grammar rule, word, spelling or pronunciation. Whether you have been studying the language for a few weeks or a few decades, I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with at least one! 
I’ve been teaching English for XXXX years! Here are some of my favourite examples of how crazy English can be:

The verb READ in the present tense is pronounced /riːd/ and is spelled READ which is helpful. But, what happens in the past tense and the past participle of the verb?  Well, the spelling doesn’t change but the pronunciation does, and it is now pronounced, READ /red/.

“But John, that’s CRAZY!”

“I know! That’s what I’m trying to tell you!”

Take another (very British) word; chuffed:

the word up in a dictionary and you’ll find it’s an extremely British way of saying ‘pleased’

But ridiculously (and admittedly less well-known) its second definition is ‘displeased’.  

The opposite!!!

Words like these are are called contronyms, the very same word with the opposite meaning.

What? No way!

Yes, way!

And what about a crazy tense or grammar rule?

Well, we have the misleading word ‘PRESENT’ in the Present Perfect Tense which can be used for actions that started in the PAST:  I’ve lived in Buenos Aires since 1956. 

And don’t get me started on phrasal verbs, infinitives, gerunds and collocations!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the English language is without rules, logical patterns or structures, but it sure is full of exceptions, and things often get a little CRAZY. And much of this is thanks to its crazy history. And it is this crazy history that we are going to look at in this blog!

So if you are you one of the estimated 1.5 billion English-language learners around the world, fasten your seatbelts, jump on board and come with me as we take a trip into the past!

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