Here is a list of curious mysteries, jokes and observations about the English language and life in general. I talk about each interesting point, give some funny comments and explain bits of English vocabulary in the process. Expect to learn a few things, and have a bit of a laugh in the process.
☝️Audio version has 15+ extra minutes, with some grammar and vocabulary explanations.
Episode Transcript / Notes
Mini-Mysteries, Jokes & Observations about The English Language (and Life in General)
Aka “Things that make you go “Hmmm”🤔😅
A while ago I got an email from a listener called Hana (hello Hana!)
In the email Hana sent me a list of little jokes, funny observations about life and some peculiarities and ‘mysteries’ of the English language.
A collection of whimsical and amusing questions and jokes.
To give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about, it’s stuff like this:
English is funny – a ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ are the same thing.
When you’re a child, you don’t realise that you’re also watching your mum and dad grow up.
The word QUEUE is just the letter Q followed by four completely unnecessary letters.
The last 10% of a tube of toothpaste lasts about as long as the first 90%.
Every time you check your pockets for your wallet, keys, and phone, you do 25% of the Macarena.
We have all, at one point, kicked a pregnant woman.
You get the idea.
Hana said the list had been sent to her by someone on WhatsApp so she forwarded them to me, just for fun.
Well, thanks Hana. This is all useful stuff I could use to make an episode of my podcast.
It’s all just a bit of light-hearted fun (in theory) and I’m sure there’s English to learn from this too.
So, while you are listening, watch out for vocabulary which comes up during this episode.
Let’s get started.
|Hello Luke,I just received these jokes on my WhatsApp and I thought of you. Best wishes, Hana|
*When you have nothing better to do*
*Just try to find answers for these*
1. If poison expires; is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous? 🤔
The expiry date
The sell-by date
The use-by date
2. Which letter is silent in the word “Scent” (perfume) the S or the C? 🤔
3. Do twins ever realise that one of them is “unplanned”? 🤔
4. Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn’t it be called double V?
5. Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.
We’re just moving dirt from one thing to another thing.
Where does all the dirt end up?
6. The word “swims” upside-down is still “swims” 🤔
7. 100 years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars.
Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses. 🤔
8. If you replace “W” with “T” in the words “What, Where and When“, you get the answer to each one 🤔
What? → That
Where? → There
When? → Then
*Still have time for fun..?*
*Let’s try this*
Four Great Confusions
Which are still unresolved
1. At a movie theatre (cinema), which arm rest is yours?
2. If people evolved from monkeys, why are monkeys still around?
*this is not unresolved – evolutionary biology has the answer
3. Why is there a ‘D’ in ‘fridge’, but not in ‘refrigerator’?
4. Who knew what time it was, when the first clock was made?
*Well, try this now*
Ambiguities of the English Language! Enjoy.!!!
1. I wonder why the word “Funeral” starts with FUN?
Saderall would be better, because you’re all sad.
2. Why isn’t a Fireman called a Water-man?
3. How come Lipstick doesn’t do what it says?
Lipstick – it’s a stick for your lips
It’s not stuff that “sticks to your lips”.
Also, it isn’t a stick made of lips. That would be weird.
4. If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches?
5. If a Vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a Humanitarian eat?
6. How do you get off a non-stop Flight?
7. Why are goods sent by *ship* called CARGO, and those sent by *truck* SHIPMENT?
ChatGPT has the answer (smartypants)
Goods that are shipped by boat are called cargo because the word “cargo” comes from the Spanish word “cargar,” which means “to load.” This makes sense because when goods are shipped by boat, they are loaded onto the vessel.
In contrast, goods that are shipped by truck are called a shipment because they are being shipped from one place to another. The word “shipment” comes from the Old French word “envoiement,” which means “the act of sending.” So, a shipment is a collection of goods that are being sent from one place to another, regardless of the mode of transportation.
8. Why do we put cups in the “Dishwasher” and the dishes in the “Cupboard“?
The word “cupboard” originated in the Middle English word “cubbert,” which came from the Old French word “couvert,” meaning “covered.” A cupboard is a type of cabinet or closet with shelves or drawers for storing household items.
The name “cupboard” likely comes from the fact that these types of storage units were originally used to store cups and other dishware. Over time, the meaning of the word “cupboard” has expanded to include any type of cabinet or closet used for storage. (yes, ChatGPT again)
9. Why do doctors “practise” medicine?
I don’t want a doctor who practises medicine, I want one who has learned how to do it!
10. Why is it called “Rush Hour” when traffic moves at its slowest at that time?
11. How come noses run and feet smell?
Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
12. Why do they call it a TV ‘set’ when there is only one?
The know-it-all ChatGPT has the answer *yawn*
The word “set” in this context refers to a complete television system, not just the physical television itself. A television set includes the television, as well as any additional components or accessories that are required to receive and display television signals.
In the past, television sets often included components such as a VCR, DVD player, or cable box, and these additional components were often referred to as “attachments.” Even though most modern televisions are self-contained and do not require additional components, the term “television set” is still used to refer to the entire system.
13. What are you vacating when you go on a “vacation“?
We can never find the answers
If you have the *Spirit* of understanding everything in a positive manner – You’ll enjoy every moment in LIFE, whether it’s *PRESSURE or PLEASURE*
So just enjoy the PUN and FUN of the English language.
Enjoy and have fun.😘👍
Hana Fakhoury Hajeer, PhD.
A Note about the words “STUFF” and “THINGS”
Also, just at the end here I thought I could explain a couple of points about the words “stuff” and “thing(s)”.
So, here is a note about that.
Of course you are aware of these words. People use them all the time. They certainly came up in this episode.
For example, at the beginning of the episode I said “Let’s talk about some stuff. Here’s some more stuff to help you learn English” and I think the episode is in fact going to be called
“Things that make you go ‘Hmmm’.”
So what about these words? I often notice that my learners of English don’t use them very much, but I think they are very useful.
Of course you shouldn’t overdo it and use them all the time, when a more specific word is appropriate, but still, they are useful and very common.
The main thing here, the main point, is that the word thing is a countable noun, and the word stuff is uncountable.
That’s the only difference really.
In English, countable and uncountable nouns have different rules regarding their usage. Here’s a general overview.
1. Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted as individual units.
2. They can be used in both singular and plural forms.
3. Singular countable nouns are typically preceded by an article (a/an) or a specific determiner (e.g., this, that, my).
4. Plural countable nouns usually take an “s” at the end, but irregular plural forms exist as well.
5. Countable nouns can be quantified using numbers or words like “many,” “few,” “some,” etc.
6. They can be used with “a few,” “several,” or “many” to indicate a specific quantity.
– “I have two cats.”
– “She bought some books.”
– “He needs a new car.”
– “There are many students in the classroom.”
1. Uncountable nouns refer to substances, concepts, or ideas that cannot be counted as separate units.
2. They are typically singular and do not have a plural form.
3. Uncountable nouns do not usually take an indefinite article (a/an) but can take a definite article (the) when specified.
4. They cannot be quantified directly with numbers, but words like “some,” “a little,” “a lot of,” etc., can be used.
5. To express a specific quantity, you can use measurement words like “a cup of,” “a bottle of,” “a piece of,” etc.
– “I need to buy some milk.”
– “She has a lot of experience.”
– “Could you pass me the salt, please?”
– “He drank a glass of water.”
It’s important to note that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on the context. For example, “water” can be uncountable (as in “I need water”) or countable (as in “There are three waters on the table”).
Just as a quick test, which word would you use to complete these sentences?
Thing / things or stuff?
- There is just one _______ I need to tell you before you go.
- Can you pass me one of those _______ on that box over there?
- Can I have some more of that _______? It was really good.
- Ugh, what’s all that sticky _______ on the table?
- I need to go into town to buy one or two _______ for dinner, would you like to come?
- Your bag is so heavy. How many _______ do you have in here?
- There’s too much _______ in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
- How much _______ did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those _______.
- Sit down, we have some important _______/_______ to tell you.
- There is just one thing I need to tell you before you go.
- Can you pass me one of those things on that box over there?
- Can I have some more of that stuff? It was really good.
- Ugh, what’s all that sticky stuff on the table?
- I need to go into town to buy one or two things for dinner, would you like to come?
- Your bag is so heavy. How many things do you have in here?
- There’s too much stuff in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
- How much stuff did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those things.
- Sit down, we have some important things/stuff to tell you.
- ❌There are some amazing stuff in this shop.
✅There are some amazing things / There is some amazing stuff
- ❌Can you pass me that stuff on the table? (talking about one object)
✅Can you pass me that thing on the table?
- ❌We need to get some more stuffs from the shop.
✅We need to get some more stuff…
✅We need to get some more things…