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15 interesting facts about the English language

'Iconscollection - Exclamation Mark' photo (c) 2007, Simon Adriaensen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
I prepared this list for one of my English classes. And then it dawned on me that I can share it with you, too! So here are 15 facts about the English language that I find very interesting. Hope you do, too ;)
  1. Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language. This isn't a kindergarten for amateur writers."
  2. No language has more synonyms than English.
  3. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the longest word in the English language is "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”.
  4. The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
  5. The longest one-syllable word in English is "screeched." 
  6. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
  7. There are only four words in the English language which end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
  8. The seven letter word "therein" contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
  9.  The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the alphabet.
  10. The shortest complete sentence in the English language is “Go”.
  11. "Almost" is the longest word in the English language which has all the letters in alphabetical order. 
  12. "Widow" is the only female form in the English language that is shorter than its corresponding male term ("widower").
  13. “Bookkeeper” is the only word in the English language with three consecutive sets of double letters.
  14. “Invisibility” is the only word in the English language which has one vowel, but this vowel occurs five times.
  15. The most common letters in English are "R", "S", "T", "L", "N", "E" and the letter "Q" is least used.
In my next posts will try to share some interesting facts about the Russian language and, if possible, also German and French. So stay tuned ;)

Comments

  1. Olenka,
    Thank you so much for this interesting post! It was fun to read it! :) Tanya M.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tanechka, I am glad you liked the post! Hope you can use it somehow with your students :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. 2. How could anybody possibly know this given that about seven thousand languages are spoken on this earth? Did somebody do a thorough comparison of all languages?

    Of course not. This was probably written by some monolingual Anglo who knows some French and who happens to know that just about every word of Germanic origin in English has a synonym of (Norman) French origin. If you look for example at character-based languages such as Japanese, just about every word of "sino-Japanese" origin (a character or a combination of characters originating in Chinese) has a purely Japanese synonym and since one character can be pronounced in different ways, Japanese likely has more synonyms than English, depending on how you define the term "synonym".

    10. "I." can also be a full sentence, and it is exactly 50% shorter than "Go".

    I will now try to prove that I am not a robot.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Steve. Hmmm, I have to admit, I didn't do a thorough comparison between all languages. I didn't make up the facts though I don't remember which sources I used for the list because I made it a while ago.
    The second fact may not be 100% true, but I chose to include it in the list because I thought it could give my students some extra motivation to study English as a foreign language ;)
    As for "I" as a full sentence, in some situations it may be so, but we normally teach students that a sentence should have a subject and a predicate, or a predicate in case of the imperative mood.

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  5. I just now thought that "Do" could also be a sentence in the inperative mood. And it has the same length as "Go".

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a great post - lots of interesting facts! I like learning new facts about the English language!

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  7. Cool stuff! I wonder what the rules were for Anglo-Saxon (the ancient form of English, spoken until around 1150).

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  8. Sarai, Unknown blogger, thank you for your comments! I also like learning new things about languages though I certainly didn't look as far back as 1150 ;) Interesting question though...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Indeed, those are very interesting facts about english. Most of them are new to me. Thanks for sharing this post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are very welcome dear Cassy! Glad you learned something new :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. About fact #12
    Cock - hen is also valid, and its one if the basic pair that is tols in class while teaching masculine feminine nouns, there can't be few many.

    ReplyDelete

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