Our convoluted english language

Last Update: July 13, 2020

Bi-monthly means once every two months.

But it also means twice a month.

Either is acceptable. The safest usage is to throw in semi-monthly if we mean twice a month. Otherwise, this becomes quite confusing.

The same rules apply to bi-weekly (and semi-weekly).

Biannual and biannually are treated in the same manner. Don't forget semi-annual and semi-annually).

But biennial has somehow acquired the singular meaning of every two years.

We have cognates. We have words spelled the identical way with several diffferent meanings. We have slang. We have words that sound alike but have different spellings. We have different pronunciations of the same word based on geography. We have different spellings of the same word based on geography. Finally, all of this is in a state of constant flux.

I was in a spelling bee in the sixth grade. My word (?) was "all right". My thinking was that a spelling bee should present one word, not two in the contest, though I knew that "all right" was correct. I answered "alright" since that was one word.and I was confused by this. I had to sit down. Now, many years later, "alright" has gained acceptability.

Kudos to all who have adopted English as a second or third language.

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LMH1968 Premium Plus
Excellent post, English is difficult to learn as there are so many words that mean different things.
I commend anyone who manages to grasp it.
MinaKim Premium
Very true. English is confusing 😵
I remember a Korean student of mine, we were practicing vocabulary that time when she asked me with her irritating voice,

"If the letter is silent, then, why it's even there? What's the use of that letter if it's silent?"🤣
RHattaway Premium
Coincidentally enough, I was in Korea as an army officer. I would go by a middle school in Wonju to visit an English class. It was fun to be asked questions and try to respond. My daughter Kimberly was born in Seoul Military Hospital, to my American wife. We thought that she would like to be called "Kim". She prefers Kimberly, but I still often call her Kim.

My secretary, Ms. Kim (Kim un-suk), spoke almost perfect English, as did most of those who worked at our detachment.
MinaKim Premium
Oh, that was nice to hear! When was that? If you don't mind me asking. I visited Wonju a couple of times, it's quite crowded though. I'm from the southern part.

It is fun to answer kids' questions but sometimes you run out of it and there are times that I find myself agreeing with them with the idea of how confusing English language is.

Did your daughter grew up here?
RHattaway Premium
This was 1966 and 1967. Parts thereof, for a total of a year and a half. My wife and Kim went home shortly after Kim was born. This was not an accompanied tour and there were constant skirmishes along the demilitarized zone. My general was a big help and let us use his sedan. This was because my wife would sing and play the piano in counterpart functions.

Wonju was the site of the First Republic of Korea Army and was across the street from my detachment.

It gives me great personal happiness to see how S. Korea has handled the Covid crisis and I wish my country could say the same.
MinaKim Premium
Wow! '66? So, it was during the DMZ conflict. You're a part S. Korea's history then! 😊

I absolutely agree, S.Korea did well on handling the Covid though we can't hide the fact that there are a few Koreans who doesn't care still.

Stay safe.