This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
english is an odd language! A ‘match patch' jumble, often mismatched! There is no butter in butterfly, no pine nor apple in pineapple and what do I stand under when I understand? Let me not forget to mention the word antelope. I understand ant and I understand elope but whom on earth made ants elope to describe even-toed deer-like animals?
Although english originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects I am convinced that most of these mismatched words came straight from the ancient British aristocrats. They were clearly not opposed to a bit of silliness and I can only try to imagine the conversation which led to ‘antelope'. “My good man, pour me another Scotch to celebrate our arrival in deep dark Africa. What is that beast! If that beast and an ant eloped! Ha ha ha. We will name those beasts… antelope!” Clearly I am now bordering on the ridiculous… but antelope!
Now if you were invited to dinner in certain parts of the UK, you would be more than fashionably late if you arrived in the early evening. That is because many english call lunch dinner! Yes, they call the meal which they consume around midday,dinner. How odd is that?
The english language is liberally sprinkled with strange expressions. Many are unfathomable to non-native speakers. Just the other day I was trying to explain the expression ‘Don't tar me with the same brush' to a friend of mine. She found the explanation (just because someone belongs to the same group as a person who has given offense, you shouldn't judge them solely on the basis of it) completely bizarre. When I added the history of the expression she judged it bizarre and macabre, and I had to agree.
‘He does not cut the mustard' (to dismiss someone's abilities) is another peculiar expression. How many of us are known to possess the skill of cutting tiny mustard seeds?
It is often said that a person enjoys the lime-light or a star is basking in the lime-light. The expression is a remnant from the past when theatres used to light the stage with a lime, heated by an incandescent light. Who could have guessed?
Added to all that there are a multitude of confusing spelling and sounds in the english language. For example ‘ough' can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: ‘A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.' That is a mouthful. Here is another mouthful, honorificabilitiudinitatibus (the state of being able to achieve honours).
Yes, english has many peculiarities. How else to describe a language with which you have to wound the bandage over your wound. Or with which you are told to fill out a form, when in fact you have to fill in the empty spaces on the form. Or with which you are told your house is burning down when your house is clearly up in flames.