English – one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, is also one of the strangest. The history of the development of English over centuries of historical invasions by or of other cultures has resulted in a kaleidoscopic language… a bit absorbed here, a bit acquired from over there.. This has created a language which does not abide by all the rules, exceptions are rife as is the continuous progression of the language and all it’s mutations. Here are ten strange things about the English language…
1. The dot on top of the letter ‘i’ is called a ‘tittle’
2. The only two words that end ‘-gry’ are ‘hungry’ and ‘angry’.
3. The combination “ough” can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
4. On average, we add approximately 1,000 new entries to Oxford Dictionaries Online every year.
5. The shortest word containing all five main vowels is ‘eunoia’, meaning ‘beautiful thinking’ or a state of normal mental health.
6. Of all the words in the English language, the word ‘set’ has the most definitions..
7. Shakespeare the master wordsmith made up thousands of words: perusal, obscene, lapse, frugal, multitudinous, gnarled and apostrophe are some of them.
8. To “testify” was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.
9. The dialects of English are the most widespread across the world: American English, Canadian English, Jamaican English, Irish English, Scottish English, Welsh English, African English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Australian English let alone all the English English dialects spoken with England.
10. The term “the Queen’s English” dates back to 1592 and those who speak with “received pronunciation” as it is known are judged to be ore intelligent and trustworthy! However even the Queen has moved with the times and now instead of saying ‘ happay’, ‘dutay’ and ‘hame’, as she did 50 years ago she now says ‘happee’, ‘dutee’ and ‘home’ .. must be the influence of those pesky grandchildren
As Doug Larson (journalist) said: “If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.”
What are your favourite English oddities?