An Open Letter of Apology to the English Language

Dear English Language,

I write to you directly for the first time, despite using you for a number of years. However, my use can best be described as rampant misuse, and spectacular misuse at that. Today, I will atone to all my wrongs, this I promise you.

Actually, may I call you English? I feel as if we know each other. After all, we have been fraternizing for a while. In fact, both of us have names that begin in capital letters – we’re both proper nouns! English, we’re bonding already.

So I come to you now, my good friend English, perhaps not quite on my knees, for I’m unsure whether you are tall enough for me to do so. I would grovel too, but in truth I am quite angry, and perhaps that will make this a terrible apology. I’m certainly not trying to be terrible – quite the opposite, in truth!

But English, I’m at an impasse:  I try, I so very try. But English, I do not know what you want. What do you want from me?

If your message was clearer, I could happily comply. Perhaps that is the source of my frustration, our frustration: English, you and me simply don’t communicate. So let’s communicate, be open and be honest. Let’s bare those scars and begin healing together Please, English.

Here goes.


English, I’m sorry for…

…the following mispronunciations I committed for many years:

Malady, bosom, pronunciation, brooch, Pacific, specific, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Raleigh, Mississippi, definitely, machine, judicial, schedule, recycle, macabre, reconciliation, listening, responsibility, narrative, Carnegie, and many others.

I also apologize for listing words above that were not originally English, but English speakers are required to know regardless. English – you’re a beautiful jewel, why not shine and borrow less from others? Haven’t we borrowed enough already?

Whoops, a little of that frustration came through. I’ll try to keep that in check, English. Promise.

…the following innovation to your alphabet I added as child:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P…
Q, R, S, PEE-YOU-PEW! W, X, Y and Beee…!

In my defense, English, my addition still made  a catchy song, perhaps even more so. I think I will delight in hearing the accidental additions of my own children… oop! I mean, this is an apology. English, sorry for doing the alphabet thing. It wasn’t funny. Wasn’t funny at all.

…the following word abuses:

Prefixes noninteresting, misbelief, uncorrect, ununderstandable, inconstructive, inbelievable, misusage, undescribable

Verbs –  goed (went), seed (saw), hitted (hit), swum (swam), broked (broke), runned (ran)

Plural – deers, sheeps, fishes, mooses, meeses, mouses

Miscellaneous

never understanding when to invoke or evoke,

attain/obtain,

writing “business” instead of busyness,

a/an,

affect/effect,

their/they’re/there,

it’s/its,

subject verb agreement in general, really

alot,

alright,

gratuitous portions of “like,” and “you know” and “you know what I mean,”

and many others.

Really English, “goed” makes much sense. When a little girl conjugates “to go” all by herself, it’s a marvel of language learning to see her independently jump the gap between present and past tense. Why then, must we correct her and tell her that though her idea was astute, it was incorrect, because the past tense of “to go” is “went?”

Urk, wait! This is an apology. I’m sorry again, English. I’m sure the little girl will get over it – get used to it, even. Thick skin and all… ahem. To continue:

…the following misspelling atrocities, some recent:

misspell, accommodation, rhythm, embarrassing, knight, museum, voluntary, restaurant, Pennsylvania, refrigerator, license, exaggeration, foreign, argument.

…demonstrating exactly how I misspelled these words:

mispell,

accomidation,

rythim,

embarising,

night/nite,

musuem,

volintary,

resterant,

Pennslyvania/Pennslyveinea,

refridgerator,

lisence,

exsaggeration,

foriegn,

arguement,

and many others.

I’m pretty certain that all these misspellings make sense in one form of another. If you were spelled a bit more phonetically, English… um, I did it again. Shutting up.

…making fun of all your homophones.

What are homophones?

bear/bare

their/there

scale/scale

rose/rose

we’re/were

board/bored

and so many others.

But English, there is just no way I can properly remember their spelling and meaning without a mistake now-and-then! And sometimes, the differences seem so silly… no, wait. Apology time, shutting up. Sorry again, English.

In conclusion…

It’s just so barely bearable to lay bare all the embarrassment and frustration over the years without that twinge. I must ask: are you embarrassed, too? Embarrassed that you are so difficult to master, or that those who attempt to master you come so short in such silly things?

Perhaps it’s a matter of pride. English, do not be prideful. Come to our parties, grace our presence. We’ll memorize your odd spelling, irregular verbs, homophones and other confusing nuances together. We’ll have such a good time, and we’ve managed to have good times over the years despite an argument now-and-then. I think you and I have a future. Don’t you?

English, you are difficult, you at times make my life difficult, but I forgive you. English, will you forgive me?

Forever with Love, and Always Yours,

– Mitzi

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10 Comments

Filed under humor, word vomit

10 responses to “An Open Letter of Apology to the English Language

  1. Enough self-flagellation, please. . . English is bloody difficult
    I live in Italy and today I was trying to explain the word ‘stitch’ which amongst other things in UK English can mean a slight but sharp pain usually experienced by children after strenuous exercise. Unfortunately when the Italian made the connection with needle based ability (!) I had to explain that to ‘sew’ is pronounced like sow as in seeds . . . except when ‘sow’ is pronounced like ‘now’ meaning a female pig . .

    It goes on: If ‘invalid’ is the opposite of ‘valid’ why does ‘invaluable’ not mean ‘having no value’ ?

    You know GHOTI ? How do you pronounce it? FISH ! WHY? HOW?
    GH as in cough
    O as in women
    TI as in station

    Sleep easy,
    It’s utterly fascinating stuff . . . but never easy 🙂

    • It is fascinating. I think someone could spend an entire lifetime identifying all the idiosyncrasies of English, both the language itself and the common mistakes of its writers and speakers. When I think of my bumpy relationship with English, I tend to smile. So I can’t learn and discover all… so what? It makes it fun, and keeps my interest piqued.

      Love the “invalid” versus “valid” and “invaluable” point. I’ve struggled with prefixes for years… the rules simply don’t make sense! But that is English for you.

  2. jimgilmore2010

    We are all guilty. Some more than others, of course.

    –Jim

  3. Hilarious post. Can I sign my name under this apology as well? Also, I’d probably be charged for “Excessive Slang Usage” or something like that.

    • There’s plenty of room to add a signature, I think the more forefront we are about our mistakes, the better-armed we’ll be in correcting them.

      On that note, “forefront” – why isn’t it “forfront?” ):

  4. I don’t know when to affect/effect either. 😦

  5. Great post!
    Thanks for making me chuckle (in a public place, I might add, resulting in a few awkward glances).

  6. SWK

    I’m definitely guilty of doing such wrong to the English language. Thank you for your humorous post!

  7. I’ve followed your blog for a while now.. I really like your writing – especially concerning the english language – english is not my primary language, but I’ve always found it fascinating.

    Thanks for a great read. 🙂

  8. Great post. English is a confusing language. But for those who have taken it as a challenge it’s fun – though perfection is not easy. Very helpful for me – got a few more points to share with my students.

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