The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, September 22, 2006

Things I Wonder About

In which it becomes clear that Ms. Knitingale may be a few repeats short of a full pattern....

How come a person can "pass" a football, "pass" a test, "pass" for 18, and "pass" a kidney stone—and the word "pass" means something different in each case? Okay, so it’s a really good thing that it’s different in the case of the football and the kidney stone….I’m just saying, how come we can’t think of more words?

How come rough, bough, and dough don’t rhyme, but through and brew do?

If hockey is a game played with sticks, and a hooker is a woman of questionable repute, how come the phrase “playing hookey” doesn’t refer to women of questionable repute playing a game with sticks?

Why do we call some coats “overcoats”? Outside of animals and car detailing, do we have “undercoats”?

Why is it that you can have a piece of paper containing a list of items needed to make something, directions to make the something, and a picture of the finished something and it’s called a recipe if you’re going to eat it…but a pattern if you’re going to wear it?

How come you can feel all discombobulated when things aren’t going predictably…but no one ever says that it was a great day at work because they felt so combobulated? And what about disgruntled and gruntled? Have you ever felt gruntled? (And by the way, my spell checker is having a ball with this one.)

Pants come in a pair, presumably because two legs go into them. Probably the same thing for underwear. So how come a bra is singular?

If you’re given more money at work, you say you got a raise. How come people taking a pay cut don't say they got a lower?

How come it’s good to be pretty….but no one really wants to be “pretty good?”

Why would the words “maul” and “mall” sound like the same word? Oh….wait. Okay, I remember the last sidewalk sale at the mall…that one makes sense.

How come people hoping to get fish to eat are said to be “going fishing” but people hoping to get other animals to eat aren’t said to be “going elking” or “going deering”?
(Admittedly, Ms. Knitingale wonders why in the world people would engage in either pursuit by ANY name, but that’s another issue entirely.)

How is “melon” a color choice, when melons come in several different colors?

Stationery, stationary; principle, principal—are we just trying to mess with non-native English speakers?

If chapstick is for keeping your lips from getting chapped, what is lipstick for?

How come we have “storm fronts” but not “storm backs”?

Why do some people say “ink pen”? Is there something else we use in pens to make them write?

Yes, indeed, Ms. Knitingale has a strange mind. I’ll admit it. I imagine the greater question might be why I waste my time wondering about such things….

I did, in fact, do some things of value yesterday. I knit a bit on my sweater sleeve (poor Mr. K—his socks are being SO neglected) but once I got past the lace, the following 11 inches of stockinette suddenly turned into an enormous black knitting hole. I knit and knit and knit and knit before going to class; I measured it, I became too annoyed to even take a picture of the darned thing.

I had my first Anatomy and Physiology class yesterday. I wasn’t at all sure how this would go, seeing as how it started out with us having to choose one word to represent how we felt and then share that with the person next to us…and then introduce that person to the class along with an explanation of how that person felt and why. I confess to not loving this sort of exercise….even if I intellectually recognize the value of it. Once I found out that we had do the standing and introducing part, I told my partner that she could change my feeling from “apprehensive” to “like a dork”. I’m sure I made lots of points with the instructor with that one.

Oh, I just thought of another one: you can feel, and you can felt, and you can feel felt…..but you can’t felt a feel. Am I the only one getting dizzy?

And how come if you yell “Duck!” at someone, they know to lower their head….but if you shout “Chicken!” they don’t know to run and flap?

I’m losing it……I’m totally losing it.


  • At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    You are so beyond priceless..I have pondered over words for so very many years, I do believe it *is* to mess with non-english speaking folks. indeed. 'Playing hookey', that was a good one. And 'bra'? perhaps because it holds up one's 'rack'? (I think maybe I have felt gruntled.)

  • At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Jill said…

    Sitting here, giggling. People are looking at me funny. You are my new hero.

  • At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Carla said…

    Ms. K., I found your priceless blog via Celtic Memories and I'm so glad I did. This is a jewel of an entry. You will have me mulling over the idosyncrasies of the English tongue all day!


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