English language is spoken by almost all the countries. It is so famous that it is the official language of 79 countries in the world. English language is a mixture of stealing, copying, inventions, misspellings etc. Yet it has emerged as a global language today. Let’s learn some interesting and fun English language facts.
English Language Facts: 1-5
1. Did you know that there are more than 2 billion English words in Oxford English Corpus at present? However, an average person like you and me knows only 50,000 words.
2. It is often believed that for every 98 minutes, a new English word is created.
3. The commonest word in English is “the”. “You” stands at 18th place and “me” stands at 50th place.
4. There are only fifteen words which have two u’s in immediate succession. Some of the words are Anschauung, Carduus, Continuum, Duumvir, Equus.
5. Just like other things and organisms on this Earth, words have a lifespan. The lifespan ranges from 1,000 to 20,000 years. One such word which went out of use is “Sleight”.
English Language Facts: 6-10
6. Like ghost cities in China, there are ghost words in the English vocabulary. One such word was found in Webster’s dictionary which was released in 1934. The word was “dord” which, according to the dictionary, meant density. The mistake was found in 1939. But it remained in the dictionaries till 1947.
7. ‘Gadsby’ is a novel written by Ernest Vincent Wright. So, what’s special in that? Well, the novel contained 50,000 words and none of those words had the letter “E”.
8. Paul Dickson, a lexicographer, entered Guinness World Record. He collected nearly 3,000 (2,964 to be precise) synonyms for the word drunk. That’s the highest collected till now.
9. ‘Dreamt’ is the only word that ends with “mt” in the English language. In British English, the word dreamed is used instead of dreamt.
10. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the rhyming word for orange is sporange (a rare alternative form of sporangium, a fern’s receptacle where asexual spore formation takes place).
English Language Facts: 11-15
11. According to the Readers University, the oldest word known to mankind is “who”. Its existence dates back to 20,000 years.
12. Samuel Jackson was the first person to write a dictionary. The dictionary was printed in 1755.
13. Can you imagine the most mispronounced word is pronunciation? Now, that’s called irony.
14. Did you know that William Shakespeare was the creator of future tense? It was believed that those time no had hope for future. So, they simply never used it. Shakespeare created the word “will” and started using it. The end result – we have future tense to read for our English tests!
15. This will certainly surprise you! Earlier books had no spaces between them. People started using spaces between words only during the period of World War I.
English Language Facts: 16-20
16. Many authors like Jane Austen, Jules Verne supported no spaces between words. First publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had no spaces between words.
17. So, how did it change? The army men in World War I had to read dispatches quickly. So, slowly they started using space between words which made the work easier. The authors who were involved in war continued using spaces and just in matter of some years, using spaces between words became a norm.
18. Did you know that back in 1100’s all the words people used were palindromes? It continued for 300 years which was started by Henry II.
19. Henry II had difficulty in reading. In 1135 (Henry II was crowned in 1133), his court doctor declared that Henry II could easily read from right to left unlike most of the people who could read from left to right. So, the King ordered every word to be made into a palindrome. It took 2 painful years for the scholars of the court to complete this daunting task.
20. Henry VI stopped this usage of palindromes in 1443 because of shortage of ink. However, there are few palindromes which still exist today like civic, refer, level etc.
English Language Facts: 21-25
21. We told that English is the official language of 79 countries. However, it is ironical enough to note that English is not an official language in the native English-speaking countries like Australia, United Kingdom etc.
22. In the nineteenth century, sausages were called as the bags of mystery because the consumer would not know what the maker is putting in those sausages.
23. This fact may leave you shocked. Our tech-savvy generation may try to take the credit for inventing OMG but it was already in use. The acronym was first used in 1917 by Winston Churchill.
24. Napron was the actual word for apron. When people said “a napron”, many heard it as “an apron”. In 15th century the letter “n” from napron was dropped officially.
25. Words like ‘unhyphenated’, ‘short’ are called autological words. It means that the words describe themselves.
English Language Facts: 26-30
26. How can we finish the article without writing about the borrowing capacity of English? French is certainly one language that influenced English a lot. Words like ballet, faux pas, café, croissant etc. are all borrowed from French.
27. German lent a handful words to English like fest, kindergarten, waltz, rucksack etc.
28. Words borrowed from other languages are: macho, patio, guerrilla, plaza etc. from Spanish; chocolate, moccasin, etc. from Native American languages.
29. English language borrowed quite a lot of words from Sanskrit and other native Indian languages. In fact, Sanskrit words were borrowed by Greek, Latin and Arabic languages as well. Words like mother, navigation, serpent, tamarind, nose, name, anonymous, etc. originated from Sanskrit and reached to Greeks, Arabs and then seeped into the English dictionaries.
30. Catamaran, curry, bandicoot, etc. came from south Indian languages. The words like cheetah, Avatar, gymkhana, garam masala, jungle, nirvana, mantra etc. came from Hindi.