May 03, 2017

10 Fun Facts About the English Language

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English is a strange language, don’t you think? So many of the rules and spellings don’t seem logical, it borrows words from all different languages, and so many words just aren’t pronounced the way you would expect.

We understand your frustration. But as annoying as the English language can be, it’s also an extremely interesting one!

Here are 10 fun facts about English that we bet you didn’t know…


  • A Pangram is a Sentence that Contains Every Letter in the Alphabet


For example, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” contains every single letter in the English language.


  • Shakespeare Added Over a Thousand New Words to the English Language


It’s true! The famous writer LOVED making up words. While no one knows for certain exactly how many he invented, we do know it was a lot. Many of these are very common words today, like bubble, gloomy, lonely and fashionable.


  • The Most Common Letter Used in English is “E”


In fact, on average, one in every eight letters you see written down will be an “e”.


  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the Longest Word in the English Dictionary


Go on, try to say it! Luckily, this isn’t a word you are likely to need any time soon - or, at least, we hope not. It’s the proper name for a lung disease that you get by inhaling too much ash and coal dust. It’s a very nasty illness that used to affect lots of coal miners in the past.


  • If You Turn the Word “SWIM” upside down, it still says SWIM!


Believe it or not, there’s even a word for words like these. They’re called “ambigrams”.


  • There is Only One Word in English With 5 Vowels in a Row


Did you guess what it was? The answer is “queuing”!


  • There Are No “Bs” Until “Billion”


It’s hard to believe, but if you wrote out every single number in order, you wouldn’t use the letter “b” until you reached the word “billion”. There isn’t a single “b” in the first 2,999,999,999,999 numbers in English!


  • Some Words Don’t Rhyme With Anything


You probably already know that the world “orange” doesn’t rhyme with any other words in the English language, but it’s not the only one. There are no words that rhyme with any of these words, either: silver, purple, month, ninth, pint, wolf, opus, dangerous, marathon, discombobulate.


  • The Words “Girl” and “Man” Didn’t Used to Have a Gender


In modern English, the word “girl” is always used to mean a female child (or young woman), and the word “man” always means a male adult. It wasn’t always that way, though. Until the 1300s, “girl” just meant a young child - that could mean a girl or a boy. The word “man” just meant a person.


  • The English Language Has Been Developing for More Than 1,400 Years


No wonder it’s such a weird (and fascinating!) language. Old English first came into use way back in the 5th Century AD. Back then, it was a mixture of German dialects with some very old Celtic words, as well as other words that came from Latin. Since then the language has come on a very long journey to evolve into the modern English you hear today!

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