English can be a challenge with double meanings and confusing words

I’m sitting here thinking about an old pal and an English teacher from Boonsboro High School.

“Fink” was a good friend. His first name was Dave Phillips, but all his classmates called him Fink.

Bernard Leisure was our English teacher in Boonsboro. It was a great class and I learned everything I could, but unfortunately I still have a lot to learn.

Sure, I’m still a little confused (confused) sometimes.

I remember one day in class we were given an assignment to recite poems, and for my money Fink won first place with her rendition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “How Do I Love Thee?”

He stood there, displaying his raw emotions as he began to recite Browning’s sonnet:

He could have won an Oscar for this performance.

Fink always managed to have fun at Boonsboro High; and I have always loved Mr. Leisure’s English lesson and Fink’s acting.

I read some interesting books in this class and learned a lot, but not enough when it came to English and some strange words.

In fact, some English words can get a bit complicated and cause tongue twisters. Recently I read a list of them by an intuitive person who had a creative influence in the study of words.

I can almost see a Dargan child practicing some of these words in a farmyard surrounded by chickens and ducks.

And if you think I’m joking, grab your glasses and read:

• “The farm was used to produce products.”

• “The landfill was so full that she had to refuse others.”

• “Someone needs to polish the furniture polish.”

Well, I suspect you’re beginning to understand what I’m trying to say.

If you think you’ve learned everything about English, consider learning more:

• “Since there is no better time than the present, he thought it was time to present the gift to his mother.”

Maybe you heard this one at Christmas.

• “When shot, the dove dove into the bushes and was never seen again.”

• “Like any Dargan gentleman, the buck acts a bit odd when the does are around.”

Mr Leisure was a man of leisure when he took his summer holidays but took English very seriously.

How about a few more?

• “Seeing the tear in the Da Vinci painting, I shed a tear.”

• “An image of the bass has been painted on the head of the bass drum.”

I wonder if learning English is like learning Dutch.

• “Like any good psychologist, I sometimes have to submit the subject to a series of tests.”

Do you think some of these words are a bit confusing in terms of pronunciation, spelling and meaning? If so, here is your sign!

It’s fun, let’s continue:

• There is no egg in the eggplant.

• There is no ham in a hamburger.

• And there is neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.

• English muffins were not invented in England. The fries do not come from France.

Mr. Bob Fleenor, I’m just trying to help you prepare for another “Jeopardy” contest.

Want more weird ones?

• “Quicksand can act quite slowly.”

• “Boxing rings are square.”

• And there is no “z” in bra.

Confused yet?

• “Guinea pigs do not come from Guinea and are not a pig breed.”

• If a vegetarian eats a vegetable, what does a humanitarian eat?

To abandon?

What language do people recite in a play and perform in a recital?

Are you scratching your head now? Whoever put these examples together must have been a curious pup with little wasted time scratching fleas.

How can low luck and high luck mean the same thing?

Tim Rowland, are you reading this out loud?

How can a house burn while burning?

Why do we get runny noses and smelly feet?

How about you romantics? When the stars are out, they are visible; but when the lights are out, they are invisible; a favorite dilemma for any Dargan Boy on a wagon ride.

And how about that little two-letter word “Up”?

We close the house and some guys fix the old car.

People stir up trouble; queuing for tickets; whet your appetite and find excuses.

And I better wrap up this column because it’s time for me to shut up.

How much did I like Mr. Leisure’s English course?

“Let me count the ways.”

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.