Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's UP/What's going ON?

English can be tricky.

I've known that for a while. But now that I'm teaching English to non-native speakers, I'm looking at the language from their perspective.

My grandma recently sent me an e-mail forward that proves how confusing and difficult English can be. I want to share it with you now...

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP."

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election, and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
We call UP our friends. We brigthen UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP.

Keep scrolling down....(time isn't really up yet, haha.)

Well hello there, sweetie! What's UP? :)

I don't know who wrote that forward, but I think it's brilliant! It also made me think about the word "on," and how many different ways it can be used. So just for fun (because I like creative writing), I wrote the following on "on"...

Ok, class. Now we'll focus on the word "on." You can count on me to start you off on learning about this word. Let's get on with the lecture...

To egg on is to encourage--it has nothing to do with eggs. But an egg can be on your plate.
touch on a subject is to mention it, not actually touch it.
To harp on has nothing to do with a musical instrument. It means to talk repeatedly about something, much like prattle on.
You can chew on an idea, but that doesn't mean you're eating it. You're just thinking.
You can have on a coat. But if you have your computer on, that doesn't mean you're wearing it. Oh, and if your computer is on, you can log on (which has nothing to do with logs.)

I can tell that some of you are frowning on this word already, but please don't give up on it! If you walk out on this class, you'll be missing out on an important lesson. So let's keep on going...

Another way to say keep on--or continue--is press on. But to press on a button doesn't mean to "continue on" a button. Theoretically, I suppose you could press on pressing on a button. To soldier on means the same thing as press on. (Although you don't have to be a soldier to soldier on, you can definitely say that a soldier soldiers on.)

If you take on (as in assume) too many responsiblities, you could get stressed out and take it out on (as in abuse) the people around you.

When you get in a car, make sure your seatbelt is fastened on. You never know when you'll need to jam on the brakes to stop. Or you might need to suddenly step on it and go faster.

Ok, I know this is dragging on (which is the same as droning on.) I'll stop yacking on (which is the same as yammering on.) I don't want to bring on a headache for any of you. For your assignment, please read up on the word "on." And then sleep on it. Class dismissed--right on time!


Dawn said...

I never realized up and on had so many definitions - LOL - so I can understand how complicated it would be for others.

I think we should check the guiness records - you might have broken one with using both words so much. Just joking, as you know.

I'm off to turn "on" my playlist and turn "up" the music. LOL.

Wendy City said...

Haha - love that!

Your grandma is a smart cookie!

Lauren said...

I did not know that up could have so many different meaning! I liked how you wrote one about on as well. Man our language is tricky!!!
Love You!

PS: MY Web cam is working!