10/14/2011

Cool Trivia About the English Language



I love trivia about the English language!  The following examples are pulled from all over the internet, so can't vouch for their veracity, but they sound likely.

Did you know ....
  1. Letters
    1. The most commonly used letter in the alphabet is 'e'. (1 out of every 8 letters written is an 'e'.)
    2. The least used letter in the alphabet is 'q'.
    3. The youngest letters in the English language are 'j', 'v', and 'w'.
    4. The letter 'w' is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn't have one syllable. (It has three.)
    5. Skiing is the only word with double 'i'.
    6. 'Subbookkeeper' is the only word in common English with four consecutive double letters.
    7. There are only three words in the English language with the letter combination 'uu': muumuu, vacuum and continuum.
    8. Words that contain the letter combination 'abc': abcaree, abchalazal, abcoulomb, crabcake, dabchick, drabcloth.
    9. words that contain the letter combination 'xyz': hydroxyzine, xyzzor.
    10. As recently as the 19th century, the ampersand (&) was considered to be the 27th letter of the alphabet.  It was called “and” or sometimes “et”. "Ampersand" is a distortion of  “and per se and,” which is what children were taught to say after "z." 
  2. Word Parts/Affixes
    1. Dreamt is the only word that ends in '-mt'.
    2. there are only 4 words in the English language which end in '-dous': hazardous, horrendous, stupendous, tremendous.
    3. Only 3 words in standard English begin with the letter combination 'dw-': dwarf, dwindle, dwell.
    4. 'Underground' and 'underfund' are the only words in the English language that begin and end with the letters 'und'.
    5. 'Angry' and 'hungry' are the only words in the English language ending in '-gry'.
  3. Fun with Words
    1. The most commonly used word in English conversation is 'I'.
    2. The most commonly used words in written English include: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, it, he, for, was, on, are, as, with, his, they, at, be, this, from, I, have, or, by, one, had, not, but, what, all, were, when, we, there, can, an, your, which, their, said, if, do.
    3. The word 'set' has more definitions than any other word in the English language. (192 definitions.)
    4. The longest one syllable words in the English language are 'screeched', 'scratched' and 'strengths'.
    5. The shortest 5 syllable word in the english language is 'ideology'.
    6. The longest word in common English is 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis'.
    7. The longest word in common English with no repeated letters is 'uncopyrightable'.
    8. 'Floccinaucinihilipilification' is the longest word without the letter 'e'. 
    9. The word 'thitherwards' contains 23 words that can be made without rearranging any of its letters: a, ar, ard, ards, er, he, her, hi, hit, hithe, hither, hitherward, hitherwards, I, it, ither, the, thitherward, thitherwards, wa, war, ward, wards.
    10. The word 'almost' is the longest word in common English with all the letters in alphabetical order. ('Aegilops' is longer, but not in common usage.)
    11. 'Spoonfed' is the longest word in common English with its letters arranged in reverse alphabetical order.
    12. The longest words in which no letter appears more than once: dermatoglyphics, misconjudatedly, uncopyrightable, subdermatoglyphic.
    13. The longest words in which each letter occurs at least twice: unprosperousness, esophagographers.
    14. Words in which a single letter is used 6 times: degenerescence, indivisibility, nonannouncement. 
    15. The longest word in common English that is a natural palindrome: redivider.
    16. The longest words that are reverse images of each other: stressed/desserts.
    17. Words that have no singular plural form: alms, amends, braces, cattle, clothes, doldrums, eaves, folk/folks, ides, marginalia, pants, pliers, scissors, shorts, smithereens, trousers.
    18. Non-scientific words that are anagrams of each other: representationalism/misrepresentational; conservationalists/conversationalists; internationalism/interlaminations; interrogatives/reinvestigator/tergiversation.
    19. Words that consist of consecutive letters (with no repeats): rust, struv, feigh, hefig, fighed.
  4. Fun with Vowels
    1. The word 'queueing' is the only English word with five consecutive vowels.
    2. Words that contain all five (or six, if you append "ly") vowels in alphabetical order: abstemious, abstentious, adventitious, aerious, annelidous, arsenious,  arterious, caesious, facetious.
    3. Words which contain all five vowels in reverse alphabetical order: duoliteral, quodlibetal, subcontinental, uncomplimentary, unnoticeably, unproprietary.
    4. 'Strengths' is the longest word with only one vowel.
    5. "Rhythms" is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.  (Twyndyllyngs is longer, but not in common usage.)
    6. Words that begin and end with vowels, but have no vowels in between: asthma, isthmi, aphtha, eltchi.
    7. The longest word that consists entirely of alternating vowels and consonants is 'honorific/abilitud/initati/bus'.
  5.  Phonics
    1. The most commonly occuring sound in spoken English is the sound of 'a' in 'alone'.  (Followed by 'e' as in key; 't' as in 'top'; 'd' as in 'dip'.)
    2. 'Of' is the only commonly used word in which the 'f' is pronounced like a 'v'. (also hereof, thereof, whereof.)
    3. No words in the English language rhyme with month, wasp, depth, orange, silver or purple.
    4. The following sentence contains seven spellings of the [i] ("ee") sound: "He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas."
    5. The follow sentence contains nine ways the combination "ough" can be pronounced: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed. 
  6. Typewriting
    1. Scientists say the easiest sound for the human ear to hear is 'ah'.
    2. The longest words typeable on a qwerty keyboard with left hand:  desegregated, desegregates, reverberated, reverberates, stewardesses, watercresses. (Aftercataracts and tesseradecades are longer, but not in common usage.)
    3. The longest word typeable on a qwerty keyboard with right hand: homophony, homophyly, nonillion, pollinium, polyonomy, polyphony.
  7. Synonyms/Antonyms
    1. The following words have two synonyms that are antonyms: cleave (adhere, separate), cover (conceal, expose), sanction (approve, prohibit), transparent (hidden, known), trim (garnish, prune).
    2. Synonyms that should be antonyms but aren't: flammable/inflammable, toxicant/intoxicant.
  8. Symbols
    1. The dot on top of the letter 'i' is called a tittle.
    2. The symbol on the "pound" key (#) is called an octothorpe.
  9. Just for fun:
    1. English is arguably the richest in vocabulary; and that the Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words, and there are a half-million technical and scientific terms still uncatalogued.
    2. The highest scoring word in the English language game of Scrabble is 'quartzy'.  (This will score 164 points if played across a red triple-word square with the 'z' on a light blue double-letter square.)
    3. 'Go' is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
    4. Victor Hugo's Les Miserables contains one of the longest sentences in the French language - 823 words without a period.
    5. 'Cabbaged', 'debagged', and 'fabaceae' are the longest words that can be played on a musical instrument.
    6. 'Q' is the only letter that does not appear in the name of any of the U.S. states.
    7. The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with.
    8. The oldest word in the English language is 'town'.
    9. The ten most commonly used verbs in the English language are: be, have, do, go, say, can, will, see, take, get.  (All are irregular.)
    10. Words that used to be trademarks but have since entered into common usage: aspirin,  bandaid, breathalyzer, cellophane, ditto, dry ice, dumpster, escalator, frisbee, granola, heroin, jacuzzi, jeep, jello, kerosene, kleenex, popsicle, q-tip, rollerblade, scotch tape, sheetrock, styrofoam, tabloid, tarmac, thermos, trampoline, windbreaker, yo-yo, zipper.
    11. The word 'lethologica' describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

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