Hi, here’s a little piece of a book called
Crazy English: the Ultimate Joy Ride Through Our Language (Pocket Books, 1989).
If you’re wondering about how English might change in the future, it’s interesting to read something about it’s idiosyncrasies now. This book is funny and well written.
Wu
English is the most widely spoken language in the history of our planet, used in some way by at least one out of every seven human beings around the globe. Half of the world's books are written in English, and the majority of international telephone calls are made in English. English is the language of over sixty percent of the world's radio programs. More than seventy percent of international mail is written and addressed in English, and eighty percent of all computer text is stored in English. English has acquired the largest vocabulary of all the world's languages, perhaps as many as two million words, and has generated one of the noblest bodies of literature in the annals of the human race. Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a crazy language -- the most lunatic and loopy and wifty and wiggy of all languages. In the crazy English language, the blackbird hen is brown, blackboards can be green or blue, and blackberries are green and then red before they are ripe. Even if blackberries were really black and blueberries really blue, what are strawberries, cranberries, elderberries, huckleberries, raspberries, and gooseberries supposed to look like? To add to this insanity there is no butter in buttermilk, no egg in eggplant, no grape in grapefruit, no bread in shortbread, neither worms nor wood in wormwood, neither mush nor room in mushroom, neither pine nor apple in pineapple, neither peas nor nuts in peanuts, and no ham in a hamburger. (In fact, if somebody invented a sandwich consisting of a ham patty in a bun, we would have a hard time finding a name for it.) To make matters worse, English muffins weren't invented in England, french fries in France, or Danish pastries in Denmark. And we discover even more culinary madness in the relevations that sweetmeat is made from fruit, while sweetbread, which isn't sweet, is made from meat. In this unreliable English tongue, greyhounds aren't always grey (or gray); panda bears and koala bears aren't bears (they're marsupials); a woodchuck is a groundhog, which is not a hog; a horned toad is a lizard; glowworms are fireflies, but fireflies are not flies (they're beetles); ladybugs and lightning bugs are also beetles (and to propogate, a significant proportion of ladybugs must be male); a guinea pig is neither a pig nor from Guinea (it's a South American rodent); and a titmouse is neither mammal nor mammaried. bar Language is like the air we breathe. It's invisible, inescapable, indispensable, and we take it for granted. But, when we take the time to step back and listen to the sounds that escape from the holes in people's faces and to ex- plore the paradoxes and vagaries of English, we find that hot dogs can be cold, darkrooms can be lit, homework can be done in school, nightmares can take place in broad daylight while morning sickness and daydreaming can take place at night, tomboys are girls and midwives can be men, hours -- especially happy hours and rush hours -- often last longer than sixty minutes, quick- sand works very slowly, boxing rings are square, silverware and glasses can be made of plastic and tablecloths of paper, most telephones are dialed by being punched (or pushed?), and most bathrooms don't have any baths in them. In fact, a dog can go to the bathroom under a tree -- no bath, no room; it's still going to the bathroom. And doesn't it seem a little bizarre that we go to the bathroom in order to go to the bathroom? Why is it that a woman can man a station but as man can't woman one, that a man can father a movement but a woman can't mother one, and that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn't rule a queendom? How did all those Renaissance men reproduce when there don't seem to have been any Renaissance women? A writer is someone who writes, and a stinger is something that stings. But fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, haberdashers don't haberdash, hammers don't ham, and humdingers don't humding. If the plural of tooth is teeth , shouldn't the plural of booth be beeth ? One goose, two geese -- so one moose, two meese? One index, two indices -- one Kleenex, two Kleenices? If people ring a bell today and rang a bell yesterday, why don't we say that they flang a ball? If they wrote a letter, perhaps they also bote their tongue. If the teacher taught, why isn't it also true that the preacher praught? Why is it that the sun shone yesterday while I shined my shoes, that I treaded water and then trod on the beach, and that I flew out to see a World Series game in which my favorite player flied out? If we conceive a conception and receive at a reception, why don't we grieve a greption and believe a beleption? If a horsehair mat is made from the hair of horses and a camel's hair brush from the hair of camels, from what is a mohair coat made? If adults commit adultery, do infants commit infantry? If olive oil is made from olives, what do they make baby oil from? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? (And I'm beginning to worry about those authoritarians.) And if pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress? Top of Page Home
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Hi WuManFu,
I have read a few of your posts, and I can tell your english is very good.
So can you please introduce me your learning path of English? Besides, what is your experience and secret of mastering english?
Hi, I believe that English is very hard for Mandarin speakers; however, it’s very much harder for English speakers to use mandarin! You’re a software engineer, right? I’m a financial analyst and I read a great deal very quickly. Your work is scientific, my work is more semantic. You use logic to build systems: I read to make predictions. So, that might be a key difference in our approach to the language. Anyway, read this. I like what this guy is doing on the mainland; so maybe check it out.

From ABCNEWS.com
'Crazy English' in Vogue in China
Crazy, But It Works
Li Yang Chinese Develops Radical New Method for Learning English Li has become a celebrity in China after developing "Crazy English," a teaching technique involving students shouting English phrases at the top of their voices. You wouldn’t think an English teacher could be so popular. But every week 30-year-old Li Yang packs audiences into large venues across China. Remarkably enough, they come — and usually pay good money — to study. Li’s frenzied approach to learning English by shouting, dubbed “crazy English,” has made him a celebrity. His method consists of leading classes in shouts of common phrases like “I have heard so much about you,” “don’t mention it, anytime,” and, perhaps for use on rarer occasions, “bad man” and “It could destroy the town.” His books and tapes are already hot sellers, helping to turn his privately run enterprise into a multimillion-dollar operation. In just three years, Li says he has shouted English at around 14 million people, from classrooms to corporate board rooms and even in the barracks of the People’s Liberation Army. His success springs from a combination of entrepreneurial skill and near-religious zeal. Most of all, Li says, he’s successful because his method works.
Leaping Language Hurdles Though an estimated 70 percent of urban Chinese have studied English, the language is so different from their native tongue that most find they just aren’t able to use what they’ve learned. “Many people cannot learn English well even though they have spent a lot of time and energy studying many different textbooks. Because they don’t realize that English study is a sort of skill training,” Li says. “They must turn their tongue muscles from Chinese to international muscles.” He claims his technique resulted from his own sense of low self-esteem. On the verge of flunking out of university, he discovered shouting as a way to break through his shyness and to better remember the material he was studying. Now Li says he’s dedicated to sharing that approach with his countrymen and to making the sessions as fun and inhibition-free as possible.
A Valuable Asset Chinese of all ages spend countless hours trying to drill English into their minds. Part of the reason Li’s method is so wildly popular is that so many are now desperate to learn English in order to reap the career rewards open to multilingual professionals. The torrent of foreign investment that has flown into China in the last decade has meant that for the first time, many Chinese managers and professionals have to work closely together with English-speaking foreigners. Some also want to take advantage of opportunities to work outside of China, which often means English is a must. Conventional English teaching in China focuses heavily on grammar and reading and writing skills. Left out, according to Li, is a focus on speaking and comprehension. He reckons that without this, students simply won’t remember what they’ve studied. Many consider “Crazy English” to be a change in the right direction, allowing them the confidence to use the language rather than just understanding it. As one student says, “His method of speaking out loudly helps to get rid of our fear when we are talking with foreigners.” Li’s company is already making plans to expand and apply the “crazy” method with other languages, including the one Li knows best: “crazy Chinese.”
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Quite interesting the article about shouting though I don't think I'll try it in my classes though (just yet).
Maybe the first article is the origin of the one I posted in the Words and Puns section. I was looking for the complete version.
Cheers!
Hi Wumanfu,
Yes, I'm a software engineer. Maybe what you said is true. Our reading habits are a bit different. I focus on comprehension, while you on extensiveness. But our purposes, i believe, are the same. Language is for communication.
I notice you always quoted some literature in your posts. Did those material happen to be right at your hand or you have a reference book for it?
By the way, what kind of English certificates do you have?
Hi, IELTS (advanced). The more I read, the more patterns I saw; they’re like chunks that I modify slightly as needed. Maybe that’s why I believe it’s best to try for phrases rather than words and grammar: too difficult. My references? A very good library system and common English reference books (electronic resources on the Internet). Here’s another variation on thoughts about crazy English.
1 verbalizing the words
2 getting out of the classroom
3 membership, humour and token reinforcements

Yesterday, I looked at a word puzzle on this site; really a very clever puzzle indeed. The funny thing was that I still didn’t get it even after I saw the answer. Apparently the trick to solving the puzzle was in changing the way I approached the words on a printed page; pronunciation was crucial for solving the puzzle. Also, it demanded that I change my Gestalt view of words printed on a page: a totally different way for me to analyze language. I’d like to relate this to the way Crazy English is presented in China too. Somehow, the ‘call and response’ style of teaching suspends normal contexts and helps a person learn in a new way.
Regarding the puzzle thread on this site, I’m not surprised that the gifted people meet to play with the language; I’m sure that play is the best way to learn to love anything that requires intelligence and effort. Anyhow, I’m going to start a new approach to learning English now, to play with it. I’ve found real value in something that I have had no time for in the past.
In my next post, I’d like to chat about the way American slaves developed gospel and blues cultures from calling to one another in the fields. These cultures seem to be soil for a force for change in American English today.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hi, here’s my next instalment in Crazy English. I’m short of time and I’ve basically dumped stuff from encyclopaedia Britannica. It’s badly written and nothing more than a draft. So, if you can forgive my ‘cut and paste’, maybe you’ll get my drift.

Crazy English: a crowd of Chinese people shouting back at the leader sounds mindless and more than a little ‘pink’. But the basic technique has a high profile American champion, Tony robbins, (author of giant within), and in fact the science behind the technique has been well researched and has been used intuitively for centuries.

1 Antiphonal singing (Hebrew Old Testament)
2 Blues and Gospel
3 NLP

If we’re reluctant to scream at kids in the classroom, provoke them into an orgy of mimicry, then maybe stop for a minute and consider that our worst fears may not come to pass. In a nutshell, I reckon that people learn by doing, by imitating and being fully involved in their learning. To shed some light on my spin, I’ll begin by discussing ancient practices of the church, the formation of the jazz culture and finish up with the science underlying NLP.

1 Antiphonal singing (Hebrew Old Testament)
Antiphonal singing goes back a long way and occurs in the folk and liturgical music of many cultures. Descriptions of it occur in the Old Testament. The antiphonal singing of psalms occurred both in ancient Hebrew and early Christian liturgies; alternating choirs would sing complementary portions of a musical/liturgical composition. For example, half the ‘choir’ would call and the second half would respond. Similar instances of alternating singing occur in the folk music of modern Yemenite Jews, in African and African-American folk music, and in eastern European folk music. The principle is also used in large compositions for double choir by such composers as Johann Sebastian Bach (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

2 Blues and Gospel
From its origin in the South in the early 20th century, the blues' simple but expressive forms had become by the 1960s one of the most important influences on the development of popular music, the zeitgeist of the ‘swinging 60s in the United States, UK and Europe too. Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues are essentially vocal. Blues songs are lyrical rather than narrative; blues singers are expressing feelings…. (Britannica)

African influences are apparent in the blues tonality; the call and response pattern of the repeated refrain structure of the blues stanza; the falsetto break in the vocal style; and the imitation of vocal idioms by instruments, especially the guitar and harmonica. In other words, this was a musical carnival; a public celebration full of familiar and surprisingly comic elements.

3 NLP
NLP was developed in the mid-70s by John Grinder, a Professor at UC Santa Cruz and Richard Bandler, a graduate student. NLP, as most people use the term today, is a set of models of how communication impacts and is impacted by subjective experience. It's more a collection of tools than any overarching theory. The name Neuro-Linguistic Programming comes from the disciplines which influenced the early development of the field. It began as an exploration of the relationship between neurology, linguistics, and observable patterns ("programs") of behavior. NLP consists of a number of models, and then techniques based on those models. The major models usually associated with NLP are: Sensory acuity and physiology. Thinking is tied closely to physiology. People's thought processes change their physiological state. Sufficiently sensitive sensory acuity will help a communicator fine-tune their communication to a person in ways over and above mere linguistics.

NLP is used to break barriers in learning and it is very effective in helping the message be received and recorded through a number of perceptual modes and neural pathways. To finish up, I think most people recognise intuitively that a person who is fully involved and ‘in love’ with what they’re doing is going to learn fast and hard.
Hi wumanfu, I'm glad you enjoy language riddles. Other way to play came to my mind recently and this time it's again about sounds, the relation between the sound and the meaning. I explain, see what Mike in Japan, a native English speaker user, said in this forum in the thread 'English words from Hindi and other Indian languages' (with your persmission Mike)

"Loot is a great word. It has the same meaning as booty, which is also a great word. They mean goods or money taken from an enemy, or by theft. I think the sound of these words suits their meaning. When I hear either of these words I immediately think of Ali Baba winking and rubbing his hands together in glee"

M in J is English speaker and I am not but I felt the same with other English words and I thought of starting a new thread here: Words whose meaning is also in their sound. Or maybe ...Words that sound as their meaning or...?? And the best and funniest part is the subjective personal feeling, each one will have his/her inner ear impressions and sharing them can be great, I think.... Emotion: tongue tied
To start with: hotch-potch. Is not revealing its sound?
Onomatopoeia sounds like a tribe of greedy little pigmy headhunters!
What a cool word. Good luck with your thread.
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