As she is spoke

Strange and boring facts about words

  1. 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:
  2. “The rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
  3. Brilliant. Don’t know where that sentence came from though; it was sent anonymously. Probably by Frank Bough.

  1. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple. I’m told.

  1. “I am,” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

  1. 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.

  1. The only word with all the vowels in reverse order is subcontinental.

  1. The longest word in the English language is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
  2. 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.

  1. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

  1. The Chinese ideogram for ‘trouble’ depicts two women living under one roof.

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

  1. Not quite as thrilling is the German word for octothorpe. They call it a ‘kanalgitter’ which means the grid over a drain!

  1. 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.