Our bartender was Romanian but spoke pretty good English. Since he was working for a cruise line that caters to a mostly English-speaking clientele, good English was a prerequisite of the job, I reckoned.
“Can you speak French?” he was asked.
As the boat that employs him cruises the rivers of France, that was a fair question.
“No,” he answered. “I speak Romanian, Russian and English. That’s enough!” Then he laughed. “Do you know how hard it is to speak English? You have over 300,000 words!”
Whether that’s true or not, I’ve always thought what makes English difficult, even for those of us that have spoken it all our lives, is the way words sound the same yet are spelled differently (see my title), or that the exact same word can have different meanings (see my title).
In fact, once you read the rest of this tale, you can tell everyone you’veread it.
But let’s move this conversation back to the barstool, because someone has just mentioned they had read that the most difficult word in the English language is…
Eyebrows immediately furrowed in doubt.
So, we decided to run it up the flagpole and see if we had indeed run into the toughest word in the English-speaking world.
Immediately, it was evident there are many ways to use ‘run’ that didn’t involve using your legs to move quickly from on point to another.
You run water either to run the washer or run a bath. If it’s the washer, then you gotta run the dryer.
The refrigerator runs. Let’s just hope we catch it before it gets too far away! (In today’s techno- world, you may have to explain what a prank call was to your kids or grandkids. I doubt they’ll immediately get the concept of dialing a random number and asking whomever answered if their refrigerator was running.)
We run the vacuum to clean the room, unless we’ve run out of time. Or run out of room.
We run our mouths. Too much.
We run for office. If we don’t run into our scandalous past, well, we’ve run a good campaign, I guess, so we can run for reelection.
Our watches run.
Our cars run so that we can run to the store. Just don’t let the parking meter run out while you’re inside or you run the risk of a ticket.
You’ve got a run in your pantyhose, by the way.
Perhaps ‘run’ is all the problem it’s purported to be. Regardless, I’ve run out of easy examples.
Besides, I need to run to the bathroom. For that, I will use my legs to move quickly from one point to another.