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Interesting, Fun, and Surprising Facts about the English Language

Interesting, Fun, and Surprising Facts about the English Language
on June, 27 2013
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English is a fun language. Words are spelled in interesting ways and sentences look as if they do not make sense but they do. English is also a challenging language to learn. Native speakers do not realize this but the many quirks of the language make it quite a challenging language to master for those who do not speak it. There are so many rules to follow and some of them do not make sense. Let’s look at how words are spelled, for starters.

Spelling

The spelling of many words in English is rather difficult to figure out from their sound when spoken out loud. Take for example, “strait,” “mate,” and “eight.” They sound similar but there’s nothing common about how they are spelled. Come to think of it, there really are no spelling rules. No wonder spelling bee whiz kids use all their spare time memorizing words straight out of dictionary pages.

Words and their perks

There are words in English without one true vowel but sound as if they have vowels. The longest English word with this characteristic is "rhythm."

Upcoming poets need to pay close attention to this part. For those keen on creating verse that rhyme, here are a few tips. There are no perfect words in English that rhyme with the words “silver” and “orange.”

There are English words that exist only in plural form. These words include tools such as “binoculars,” “shears,” “glasses,” “spectacles,” “scissors,” “tongs,” and pieces of clothing such as “pajamas,”” jean,.” “pants,” and “trousers.” “Gallows” is part of this group, too.

To hyphen or not to hyphen

Here’s interesting trivia about hyphens that might work well enough as an ice-breaker given a certain type of crowd, of course. “Bookkeeper” and “bookkeeping” are the only words in English that do not have a hyphen despite having three consecutive double letters. To facilitate readability, words with double letters are usually hyphenated such as "sweet-toothed."

But there’s no helping certain words, especially those that have the same latter appearing three times in a row. Words such as “cross-section” and “bee-eater” require a hyphen for sure. But according to the Oxford English Dictionary “frillless” and “duchessship” can do without one. Nobody understands why one set is not allowed hyphens while others can’t do without them.

Unique endings

“Dreamt” is the one word in the English language that ends with “-mt.” There are only two words in English that end in "-gry” and these are “angry” and “hungry.” Meanwhile, there are only four English words in common usage that end with “-dous.” These words are “tremendous,” “stupendous,” “horrendous,” and “hazardous.”

Sentences and their perks

A “pangram” is a sentence with all the 26 letters of the English alphabet. The popular typing exercise "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a great example of a pangram. So far, it hasn’t been replaced in keyboard/typewriter proficiency tests by another sentence.

Here are two sentences that, despite having identical words in a row, still make perfect sense: (1) It is true for all that, that that "that" which that "that" refers to is not the same "that" which that "that" refers to. (2) It is true, despite everything you say, that this word to which this word refers is not the same word to which this word refers.

Can you beat that?

AUTHOR
Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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