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Fast Facts about the English Language

Oxford Dictionary
Fast Facts about the English Language
on November, 13 2013

There are at least eight different ways to pronounce ough, as in rough, dough, thought, plough, through, borough, slough and cough. In this phrase, I take a walk to exercise and walk to work every morning along that walk way, walk is a noun, a verb and an adjective, respectively.

The English language has many combinations, words that have the same meaning but different spelling and vice versa, as well as peculiarities that make the language truly interesting. English is a universal language and one of the top three most spoken languages in the world after Chinese and Spanish. It has enough rules that can boggle the minds of learners of the language and continues to evolve in so many ways as it adopts new words and phrases. Yet, by itself, there are still so many things to learn and discover about the language. Let’s explore some of them.

Fast facts

• From 1932 to 1940, due to an error, there was a ghost word in the dictionary that has no meaning. The word was dord.

• Town is the oldest word in the English language; strengths is the longest word with just a single vowel; dreamt is the only word that ends with mt, and I am is the shortest complete sentence in English.

• Listen has the same letters as the word silent.

• If you read this sentence backwards, "Are you as bored as I am" you will still make sense of the whole thing. Another funny thing is that the word swims when read upside down will still be the same.

• The Oxford English Dictionary lists the longest word in English - pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and its plural that ends with -es.

• Today we use dared as the past tense of the verb dare. Its archaic past tense was durst.

• Can you name rhyming English words for angel, bulb, month, orange and silver?

• The word underground is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with und.

• Tremendous, stupendous, horrendous and hazardous are the only four English words that end with dous.

• Screeched is the longest one syllable word, while bookkeeping and bookkeeper are the two words that consecutively have double letters (oo, kk, ee).

• You might not have noticed this but stewardesses is the longest word that you can type with your left hand. On the other hand, rhythms is the only word in English that do not have a main vowel.

• If you take a closer look at the word therein you will see that you can extract several words - the, there, he, her, here, ere, herein, in and rein from it without rearranging anything.

• Conventionally, you will get 25 meanings for the word set as a verb, 13 meanings as a noun, and 7 as an adjective. Set is also the name of an evil god in Ancient Egypt, who was the brother and murderer of Osiris, the god of the afterlife.

The English language can be very challenging and a fun language to learn. These are just some of the fun and fast facts about the language. Did you know that all pilots on international flights identify themselves in English?

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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