In this post you’re going to learn 20 curiosities about the English language. Are you a curious person like me?
1. “Strengths” is the longest word in English with only one vowel and “smiles” is the longest word in English language. (There is a mile between the first and the last letter! I caught you now! lol)
2. The most commonly used adjective is “good”. Of course, different sources come up with different answers for this, but “good” is usually listed among the most common adjectives. Can you find some synonyms of this word to avoid repeating it all the time? Let’s check a few of them: excellent, great, awesome, terrific, fantastic, top-notch, first-rate, high-grade, high-end, high-quality, outstanding, exceptional, superb, wonderful, etc.
3. The most commonly used noun is “time”, according to the latest Oxford dictionary. The subject time is a common theme, with “year” being the third most common noun, “day” in fifth place and “week” at 17.
4. Some English words look the same upside down. An ambigram is a word that looks the same upside down as right-side up. A great example is the word “SWIMS” with all capitalized letters.
5. Some English words look the same backward and forward. A palindrome is a word or phrase that’s spelled the same whether you read left-to-right (like normal) or right-to-left. An example is the word “madam”.
6. There are approximately 1.5 billion English speakers in the world. That’s 20 percent of the world’s population! About 600 to 700 million of those are non-native speakers.
7. A new English word is added to the dictionary every two hours. Editors from the Oxford English Dictionary have estimated that about 4,000 new words are added to the dictionary every year. That means a new word about every two hours! On example is the word “Mx”(a gender-neutral form of address instead of using Mr or Ms).
8. English has more words than most languages. There are currently about an estimated one million words in the English language. But don’t let this scare you, because…
9. The average English speaker only knows between 20,000 and 30,000 words. While this statistic from Twinword still seems daunting, it should be a comfort to learners that you’re not going to have to memorize all of the million English words out there. You’ll still be understood!
10. The most commonly used letter in English is “E.” According to Oxford Dictionaries, “E” is the most commonly used English letter, and “Q” is the letter used the least. To put it in perspective, “E” is 56 times more common than “Q.”
11. Over 80% of the information stored on computers is in English.
12. English is the official language of the air. This means that English is the official language of airplane travel. Ever noticed that no matter where you’re flying in the world, your pilot and flight attendants always know English? This is why!
13. Most English words come from French or Old English. The words that come from French are often considered more formal, while words that came from Old English are more informal. For example, the words “commence” and “begin”.
14. The English language itself wouldn’t be the same without Shakespeare? He invented over 1,000 words, which he incorporated into his writing. Today, native English speakers still use these words in everyday speech. Some of these words include: addiction, cold-blooded and break the ice.
15. 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”.
16. Words we always use even though they add no meaning or value to a sentence are called crutch words. For example, in the sentence “Then I was like, OMG, then like, he went there, and like…” The word “like” is a crutch word.
17. The English language is said to be the happiest language in the world – oh, and the word “happy” is used 3 times more often than the word “sad”.
18. One in a billion! If you were to write out every number in order as words (e.g. one, two, three, four…) you wouldn’t use the letter “b” until you reached one billion!
19. Month, Silver, Purple, Orange: There are no words in English to rhyme perfectly with these four. (not yet!)
20. English used to have grammatical gender. Many languages have “grammatical gender.” For example, Spanish speakers use the gender articles el and la (the) depending on whether a noun is masculine or feminine. English used to have grammatical gender, but doesn’t anymore. The book “Gender Shifts in the History of English” explains how English lost its grammatical gender system over time. It actually may make it easier for learners that the English language doesn’t have these gender rules today. You only have to memorize a word’s meaning, not its gender!
I hope you liked to learn some interesting facts and curiosities about the English language. Did you know any of them? Share your comments below.
See you on the next post! 🙂