A Few Things You Never Knew About the English Language

It’s probably fair to say that if the English is your native language, it likely isn’t a language you give a great deal of thought to.  Instead, you simply speak it, write it and listen to it every day as purely instinctive processes.  Nevertheless, you only need to experience the complexity of a certified document translation at least once to realise that the English language isn’t quite as simple and mundane as you probably believe it to be.

Is often said that the better you understand the language, the better-equipped you are to get the very most out of it.  So with this in mind, what follows is a view interesting factoids about the English language and its history that might just come as a surprise:

1 – Girl used to mean small boy or girl

First of all, when the world ‘girl’ originally entered the English language, it did not actually mean girl.  Instead, it was a word used to refer to any ‘young person’ or ‘child’, irrespective of gender. Or in other words, all boys used to be girls!

2 – English is the language of the air

Regardless of the nationality of the airline or the pilots themselves, it is a legal requirement on a global basis for pilots to communicate both with the ground and with other pilots in English only.

3 – ‘Swims’ is an example of an ambigram

If you haven’t come across the term before, ambigram refers to a word which remains exactly the same if it is turned upside down.  One example to illustrate this is the word ‘swims’.

4 – Words of no meaning or value are called ‘crutch’ words

There are certain words we all tend to use on a regular basis that are to a certain extent worth less and add no meaning or value to the sentence is in which they are used.  These include examples like ‘basically’, ‘honestly’, ‘actually’ and more recent examples like ‘OMG I was all totally like’.

5 – The dictionary welcomes a new word every 120 minutes

Somewhere in the region of 4,000 new words are added to the dictionary each and every year – many of which the older generations have absolutely no understanding of!

6 – The oldest and shortest word in the English language is ‘I’

Not only is it the shortest and oldest, but ‘I’ is also the most commonly used English word as well.

7 – The longest word in the English language is…

Last but not least – and contrary to popular belief – the longest word in English language is actually Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.  Feel free to spend the next few minutes finding out whether or not you can pronounce it correctly!

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