Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

Readers’ Questions

Dear Richard Lederer: Your column on Janus-faced words, words that contain opposite meanings within themselves, got me thinking about the many inconsistencies of the English language. Take the word far being used as an adverb. How come we always have to add -ly to adjectives to make adverbs, but not in this case? “He has to go far to get to that far place,” not “go farly.” Or am I way out in left field? Help! – Bob Limes

Yes, many adverbs end in -ly, but many others don’t. Hence” She ran fast”; “She ran rapidly.” That’s because language is created by humans, not computers and reflects the inconsistencies of our species.

If the truth be told, all languages are a little crazy. That’s because language is invented, not discovered, by human beings, not by computers. As such, language reflects the creative and fearful asymmetry of the human race, which isn’t really a race at all.

English is the most widely spoken language in the history of our planet, used in some way by at least one out of every seven human beings around the globe. English has acquired the most ginormous, humongous vocabulary of all the world’s languages — more than a million words — and has generated one of the noblest bodies of literature in the annals of the human race. Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a crazy language — the most loopy and wiggy of all tongues.

In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? In what other language do people play at a recital and recite at a play? In what other language does a man get a hernia and a woman a hysterectomy? In what other language can your nose run and your feet smell?

Why are people who ride motorcycles called bikers and people who ride bikes called cyclists? Why does night fall but never breaks and day breaks but never falls? Why is it that when we transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when we transport something by ship, it’s called cargo? Why do we pack suits in a garment bag and garments in a suitcase? Why do privates eat in the general mess and generals eat in the private mess?

Sometimes you have to believe that all English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do they call the third hand on the clock the second hand?

In stadiums, why are the seats called stands, when they’re made for sitting? Why is the third hand on a clock called the second hand? Why are movie coming attractions called trailers when they come before the main feature? Why do we call a ship that pushes other ships a tugboat?

Why do we watch television but see a movie. Why are we on television but in a movie?

Why do we call that useful basket with the top on it a hamper? Why is your largest finger is called a thumb but your big toe doesn’t get a name of its own? Why is the person to whom you entrust your hard-earned life savings called a broker? Why do we call food servers waiters, when it’s the customers who do the waiting?

Why is it that a woman can man a station but a man can’t woman one, that a man can father a movement but a woman can’t mother one and that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom?

Why do we watch television but see a movie. Why are people on television but in a movie? Why can you call a woman a mouse but not a rat — a kitten but not a cat? Why is it that a woman can be a vision, but not a sight — unless your eyes hurt? Then she can be “a sight for sore eyes.”

Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Why is it so hard to remember how to spell mnemonic? Why doesn’t onomatopoeia sound like what it is? Why is the word abbreviation so long? Why is diminutive so undiminutive? Why does the word monosyllabic consist of five syllables? Why is there no synonym for synonym or thesaurus? And why, pray tell, does the word lisp have an s in it?

English sure is crazy.