20 Mind-blowing Facts about the English Language
Learning English can be difficult to many, especially when the grammar bit comes into the picture. For every grammar rule, there is almost always an exception. Not only that, sometimes the words can be rather confusing as well, especially when it has multiple meanings that change according to context.
However, it’s all these “difficulties” that make the language interesting and entertaining to be learned. Here are 20 interesting, if not mind-blowing facts about the English language, that probably you didn’t know.
1. Of all the words in the English language, the word “set” has the most definitions.
“Set” has 464 definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary. “Run” runs a distant second, with 396. Rounding out the top ten are “go” with 368, “take” with 343, “stand” with 334, “get” with 289, “turn” with 288, “put” with 268, “fall” with 264, and “strike” with 250. (Source: Dictionary.com)
2. There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”
a-e-i-o-u! Those are two common words, although some technical terms such as arsenious, acheilous, caesious, also have all five vowels in order. (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)
3. There is a seven-letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, “therein” can generate: “the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein”.
4. The only word in the English language with THREE CONSECUTIVE SETS OF DOUBLE LETTERS is “Bookkeeper” – “OO”, “KK” and “EE”
Can you find other words to beat bookkeeper?
5. Widow is the only female form of a root word in the English language that is shorter than its corresponding male term (widower).
Good for the ladies! Reminds me of Black Widow in Avengers.
6. According to Illinois state law, it is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is “American.”
In 1923 the state of Illinois made American, not English, its official language. The move was a protest against the British. In 1969, the law was quietly amended to make English the official tongue. Well, American ain’t English? (Source: Illinois Edu)
7. There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs five times: “indivisibility.”
8. The word “queue” is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
9. “Dreamt” and its derivatives are the only common English words that end in “mt”.
In American English, the word “dreamed” is commonly used.
10. The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
Wait, can that be considered as “English”?
11. The verb “cleave” is an English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.
So, first you “cleave” then “cleave”….get it?
12. The word “Typewriter” can be typed using only the top row of keys on the keyboard.
13. Modern technology is making everything smaller, even our words. “Bits of eight” shrank to become byte, “modulate/demodulate” became modem , “picture cell” became pixel and of course “web log” became blog.
Technology also “shrink” a lot of words, that is if you accept “brb”, “LOL”, “ROFL” as English.
14. The most used letter in the English alphabet is ‘E’, and ‘Z’ is the least used!
Did someone just say “I thought A is the most used letter”? (Source: Relative frequencies of letters in the English language)
15. Floccinaucinihilipilification, the declaration of an item being useless, is the longest non-medical term in the English language.
How to pronounce that? Refer here.
16. The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” uses every letter of the alphabet!
Yes, A to Z, all of them. Of course, this is not the only sentence.
17. “Rhythm” is the longest English word without a vowel.
Some claim TWYNDYLLYNGS is the longest word but the spelling of the word has changed to “twinling” or in Modern English, it means “twin”.
18. The word “alphabet” is derived from the first two letters in the Greek alphabet: “alpha” and “beta”.
19. Some words in English such as “racecar”, “kayak” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right Or right to left (palindromes).
20. What is called a “French kiss” in the English speaking world is known as an “English kiss” in France.
Do you have other interesting facts to share? Post them in the comments section.