English Peculariarities

I've noticed some peculiarities of (American) English recently that I haven't seen discussed as peculiarities before.

Negative Questions

When asked, "Don't you want a hamburger?" an answer of "yes" means that you do want a hamburger. When asked, "You don't want a hamburger?" an answer of "yes" means that you don't want a hamburger. Why does the word order of the question change the meaning of the answer in this situation?


Homonyms are words that sound the same but mean different things. There are at least two English words that are pronounce differently even though they're spelled identically: live/live and read/read.

In the sentence, "I live in Texas," I pronounce "live" with a short-i sound like the "i" in "tin". However, in the sentence, "The soccer game is being broadcast live," I pronounce "live" with a long-i sound like the "i" in "time".

Similarly, I use a short-e sound, like in the word "red", when saying the word "read" in the sentence, "I read about that yesterday." But in the sentence, "I read everyday," I use a long-e sound like the word "reed".

Photo by Dave Worley