As she is spoke
Strange and boring facts about words
- The English language is a minefield even for native speakers. How Chinese, Russians, Serbo-Croats and people from Basingstoke cope with it I can’t imagine. Even if you can write it, there are enormous problems. For example, the letter combination OUGH can be pronounced nine different ways. This sentence contains them all:
- “The rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
- Brilliant. Don’t know where that sentence came from though; it was sent anonymously. Probably by Frank Bough.
- No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple. I’m told.
- “I am,” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
- After much squabbling, it’s been established that there are two words in the English language that contain all the vowels in alphabetical order: facetiously and abstemiously.
- The only word with all the vowels in reverse order is subcontinental.
- The longest word in the English language is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
- Apparently it refers to a lung disease caused by breathing in particles of volcanic ash or similar fine dust. Some people say it’s a disease caused by trying to pronounce ridiculously long words.
- The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
- The Chinese ideogram for ‘trouble’ depicts two women living under one roof.
- Douglas Adams is one of the most brilliant writers of comedy ever. ‘The Meaning of Lif’ isn’t his most well-known book, but it’s totally brilliant. ‘Agglethorpe’ meaning a dispute between two pooves in a boutique is a wonderful word. But there are real ones around which are just as thrilling:
- Octothorpe. Isn’t that yummy! It means the little ‘#’ sign and was invented in the sixties by some blokes at Bell laboratories in the US. ‘Octo’ because of the eight points and ‘Thorpe’ from . . . well some chap they knew. I think.
- Not quite as thrilling is the German word for octothorpe. They call it a ‘kanalgitter’ which means the grid over a drain!
- Some other interesting words:
The ‘&’ sign is called an ampersand.
A ‘/’ is a virgule. Is a ” called an elugriv?
The little dot at the top of a lower case ‘i’ or ‘j’ is a tittle.