https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

English Language Facts 2

This is my second post about English Language Facts. Here's my earlier post https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11061934 If you find anything wrong with these facts or would like to add any, please comment.

  • "Pronunciation" is one of the most mispronounced words in the English language.

  • Approximately one new word is added to the English language every two hours and around 4,000 new words are added to the English dictionary every year.

  • The most difficult tongue twister in the English language is "sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick".

  • Have you ever wondered why the English computer keyboard is set out in the way it is instead of in alphabetical order? The reason for this is on early typewriters, the keys needed to be arranged in a certain way so that the mechanical rods which held the letters did not clash too much and jam. The letters needed to be separated so that the ones which were most commonly used were not next to each other.

  • Over 700 million people speak English as a foreign language.

  • The word "swims" when turned upside down will still look the same i.e. 'swims'

  • The adjective most often used to qualify the noun "heart" is "broken."

  • The origin of the word "trivia" comes from a Latin word "trivium" which means a place where 3 roads meet, a kind of people square in old times. People would regularly gather there & would talk about all kind of things, most of which were very small & mostly useless so the trivia word originated which means interesting but useless things.

  • One in every 6 persons in the world knows or speaks the English language.

  • The word "Scolionophobia" means to have a fear of School.

  • "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."

  • The following sentence contains seven identical words in a row and still makes sense. "It is true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to." (= It is true for all that, that that "that" which that "that" refers to is not the same "that" which "that" refers to.)

  • The name Earth comes from the Old Saxon word "eartha", the dutch word "aerde" and the German word "erda".

  • We can find 10 words in the 7-letter word "therein" without rearranging any of its letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.

  • In normal usage, the # symbol has several names, for example: hash, pound sign, number sign.

  • In English, the @ symbol is usually called "the at sign" or "the at symbol."

  • If we place a comma before the word "and" at the end of a list, this is known as an "Oxford comma" or a "serial comma." For example: "I drink coffee, tea, and wine."

  • Some words exist only in plural for, for example: glasses (spectacles), binoculars, scissors, shears, tongs, gallows, trousers, jeans, pants, pyjamas (but note that clothing words often become singular when we use them as modifiers, as in "trouser pocket").

  • In the 17th century, magpies were nicknamed "pie-maggots."

  • If you were to write out every number name in full (one, two, three, four...), you wouldn't use the single letter B until you reached one billion.

  • The part of your back that you can't quite reach to scratch is called the acnestis. It's derived from the Greek word for "cheese-grater".

  • There was no word for the color orange in English until about 450 years ago.

  • In the 18th century, teachers were nicknamed "haberdashers of pronouns."

  • In medieval Europe, a moment was precisely 1/40th of an hour, or 90 seconds.

  • The earliest record of the phrase "do-it-yourself" comes from a 1910 magazine article about students at Boston University being left to teach themselves.

  • A poem written to celebrate a wedding is called an epithalamium.

  • DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid.

  • Theodore Roosevelt was the only U.S. President to deliver an inaugural address without using the word "I". Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower tied for second place, using "I" only once in their inaugural addresses.

  • The word "karate" means "empty hand".

  • The word "assassination" was first used by Shakespeare.

October 24, 2015

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RunningFrog

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing! However, the fact about the keyboard is not correct. Here is a website that I think explains it very well :). http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/fact-of-fiction-the-legend-of-the-qwerty-keyboard-49863249/?no-ist

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you. :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zzzzz...

An epithalamium is not written to celebrate a wedding, but a bedding. It is usually written for a bride on her way to spend her wedding night with the groom. Thank you for posting these. :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Oh! Thanks for correcting. :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rewjeo
  • 1581

The karate one, while not wrong, doesn't have much to do with English. We just use the Japanese word (mispronounced, of course) which does, in fact, mean empty hand. Similarly, karaoke (pronounced very differently in English compared to Japanese) means empty orchestra.

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

I am aware of that, I just put it on as it is a word in the English Dictionary. :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7895123G

Words always (or nearly always) in the negative:

Disappoint

Disgruntled

Disgust

Disheveled

Incessant

Indefatigable

Indelible

Indolent

Ineffable

Inept

Infinity

Inordinate

Impeccable

Inscrutable

Insomnia

Insufferable

Nonsensical

Reckless

Uncouth

Unfathomable

Unthinkable

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you for that! :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ketoacidosis

The example sentence reminded me of one of my favourite sentences:

"James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_while_John_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_a_better_effect_on_the_teacher

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Haha, I like that! I'll use it on somebody. :)

October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EoghanBostock

I never knew about

Have you ever wondered why the English computer keyboard is set out in the way it is instead of in alphabetical order? The reason for this is on early typewriters, the keys needed to be arranged in a certain way so that the mechanical rods which held the letters did not clash too much and jam. The letters needed to be separated so that the ones which were most commonly used were not next to each other.

I do like these guides. You should continue!

P.S. You can also spell "Typewriter" using only the top layer of keys.

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you! :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/prky
  • 2114

In your list of "only exist in plural," a verb form of "shears" is common; something can "shear off" and in aviation there is a flight condition called "wind shear". There are several definitions for "shear" as in a cutting tool, in the Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary. This is an interesting list, Thank you!

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Okay, thank you. Also, nice streak! :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/prky
  • 2114

Thank you, you are very kind.

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you! As are you! :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cherok40

Sorry for asking, but that means you cannot say "I cut my hair with a scissor"? I always thought I could say it like that. I has to be "with scissors"? So strange..in my language we have singular and plural for this word. :-)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

No, you cannot say "I cut my hair with a scissor". The proper way would be "I cut my hair with scissors". :)

October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hojinkie

Armenian language fact: the @ sign is called a «շնիկ» or in English "doggy." And isn't "assassin" from the Arabic word "hashashin" or in other words a user of hashish?

October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Yes! You are correct about the "assassin" word! I wrote that down, when actually Shakespeare was the first one to use that word. Thank you for correcting. :)

October 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rorgg

Deoxyribonucleic acid is two words.

October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you for pointing that out. If you break it down, it's actually three words. Deoxybirose, Nucleic, Acid. Thank you for correcting. :)

October 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/no.name.42

What's your source for "pronunciation" being the most mispronounced word?

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Oh, that was an error. I meant to put Pronunciation is one of the most mispronounced words in the English language.

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheWombatGuru

"Aerde" is not a Dutch word; It should be "Aarde"

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Actually it is "aerde", it's Middle Dutch. It's the alternative of erde. :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

I believe it is now an Afrikaans word, which originated from Middle Dutch.

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FresnoVegas

This was awesome. Great read!

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FresnoVegas

You're more than welcome. Keep them coming. Also I have always been fond of the tongure twister "Eleven benevolent Lebanese elephants."

October 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Oh! That's a good one also. :)

October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RhydianDavies

Keep 'em coming! :)

A couple of small clarifications:

  • English "earth" comes from Proto-Germanic erþō, which is also the source for all the other Germanic language variants.
  • "swims" upside-down will actually end up looking like "sʍᴉɯs", or if you also reverse it - "sɯᴉʍs". It would be cool if we had these extra characters :)
October 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissThorson

Thank you. :)

October 25, 2015
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