One interesting linguistic incongruity I've noticed is the phrase a whole nother, as in it's a whole nother level or in similar situations. When we speak, this rolls off the tongue perfectly, but we never consider how weird the word nother looks when written down. Then again, a whole another somehow seems worse. Some people compromise by writing whole 'nother, but that implies that it's replacing whole another, which really is grammatically incorrect. So what gives? Well, first of all, nother is correct, despite what even some grammar Nazis might tell you. The phrase came about through the process of tmesis, wherein a word is inserted into another word (such as in un-freakin'-believable!). So instead of another, people started saying a-whole-nother, and finally a whole nother. Hopefully that explains it satisfactorily. Another, meanwhile, is an interesting word all by itself, because it's just a merger of the phrase an other!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.