English Fun Facts
I love the English language. Words have power.John C. Bogle
English is a fascinating language, and the most global. It borrows words from many languages including Italian, Spanish, Greek, Dutch, Russian, and more. It is the official language of over 65 countries and is the second most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin.
Here are some interesting and fun facts about this language.
1. Alphabet originates from Greek
The word alphabet comes from the Latin word alphabetum, which came from the Greek word alphabetos. Alphabetos in turn came from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta.
2. E is very popular
E is the most commonly used alphabet in the English language, comprising 11% of the language! Talk about being popular!
Q on the other hand is used the least.
LOL was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2011. Is that hilarious or what!
4. Sky Language
English is the language of the skies. In 1951, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended that English be the standard language to be used for all air travel communication. The announcements or other communication with the crew or air traffic controllers has to be done officially in the English language. It is only then that they may repeat the same in other languages if required.
5. Longest word is 45 alphabets long
No. It is not Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (that approximately means “fantastic”). The longest word is longer than this. It is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It is a type of lung disease caused by inhaling ash and dust.
The chemical name of ‘titin’, the largest known protein, is 189,819 letters and would take over 3 hours to pronounce. However, it is open to contest whether it is actually one word, since proteins are named after all the chemicals that make it.
6. Only plurals
There are some words that do not have any singular words, like spectacles, jeans, pants.
A pangram is a sentence that uses all 26 letters of the English alphabet. Can you think of any?
I’m sure you have read this one: A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Use it as an exercise to make your kids practice their handwriting!
8. Change is the only constant
Many English words have changed their meaning over time – for example, “awful” used to mean ‘inspiring wonder’ and was a short version of “full of awe”, whereas ‘nice’ used to mean “silly”.
9. Shakespeare and English
Shakespeare was obviously one of the best playwrights of all time. Did you know that he contributed much more to English than his literary works? He also invented many common English words and changed the way some words were used. We can thank Shakespeare for words like zany, torture, arch-enemy, champion and many many more.
10. Crutch words
Most of us, while speaking, use words like ‘like’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’ as fillers. They don’t add any meaning to the sentence. There is a word in English for such words – Crutch words (words we always use even though they add no meaning or value to a sentence are called crutch words.)
Let me know in the comments if there are other fun facts that you know about!