This week I've been asked what the difference is between inflammable and flammable and valuable and invaluable. Ummm. (Strums lips thoughtfully). Call me daft - I've been called worse - but don't they mean the same thing? Like slim chance and fat chance?
It got me wondering. I mean, what are the opposites of ruthless and gormless, for instance? Ruth? Gorm? I don't think so.
My grandma used to ask tricky questions like that when we were youngsters. (She knew how to show us a good time.) Why do we chop trees DOWN, but chop UP wood? We never could give her a satisfactory answer. Probably because there isn't one. Why do we get IN a car, but ON a bus, train, plane or ferry?
I had a look online, but even Google couldn't help. I did discover that “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is the toughest tongue twister in English, though, and that Donald Duck's middle name was Fauntleroy. How weird is that? I mean who even invented words, anyway??
Luckily, I've pulled myself together. I shan't be doing any more Wondering. It hurts my brain.