English language is the most studied second language in the world, widely used everywhere and for a variety of purposes – for example in international business, trade and commerce, and as the official language of world organizations.
English is also the default language when people who speak different languages communicate – for example a Ukranian communicating with a Brazilian on a business matter.
While spoken by millions, English is the only major language that doesn’t have a language academy overseeing it. Nonetheless, English continues to be adopted universally, and is the most popular second language to acquire.
Although most of us already know how to speak English, there are still words, phrases and terms that we don’t fully understand or are even aware of.
Below are 15 interesting facts and trivia you may not know about the English language.
- In 1945, Grace Hopper of Harvard University was working on a malfunctioning computer and found a moth in the circuits which had caused the computer to break down. Since then, the term “bug” refers to a computer problem, especially software.
- A person who studies caves is called a speleologist.
- The words “silver”, “month”, “orange” and “purple” do not rhyme with any other words in the English language.
- The word “set” has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
- The word “ultimate” is the last thing to happen, “penultimate” is next-to-last and “antepenultimate” is the last but two in a series; the third last. “The antepenultimate item on the agenda”
- The plastic material at the end of a shoe lace is called an aglet.
- The ridges on the side of a coin are referred as milling or reeding.
- An octothorpe is commonly known as the “pound” sign (#).
- The dent between your nose and your lips is called a philtrum.
- The ZIP in Zipcode means “Zoning improvement plan”.
- You may have seen this sentence somewhere before – “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This is an example of pangram sentence, a sentence that uses every letter in the English alphabet.
- “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is the longest word in English. It has 45 letters, and is a type of lung disease caused by the inhalation of ash and sand dust, mostly associated with volcanic ash.
- The words we use repeatedly during conversation even if they don’t add meaning to what you are saying are called “crutch words”. Commonly used crutch words – “Actually”, “like”, “basically”, “anyway”.
- There is name for the small dot in the letter “i” – a “tittle”.
- Many wonder what the symbol “&” is called. It’s an “ampersand”, and is a version of the Latin word “et”, which means “and”.