St George’s Day, English Language Day and – as legend would have it – the day both William Shakespeare was born and died. April 23 is certainly a day to be proud of being English.
And, on this, the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare it seems fitting to put the English language under the spotlight.
After all, it is the most widely used language across the globe, presenting its dominance in education, business, technology, politics and air travel. Recent estimates suggest that there are around 750 million English speakers worldwide.
As a recent English language graduate I always jump at the chance to wax lyrical about our mother tongue, quirks and all. So, here are five fabulous facts about the English language.
1) The longest word in the English language is a whopping 45 letters long – ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ (go on, try pronouncing that!) It’s a lung disease caused by inhaling ash and sand dust.
2) Our language is constantly evolving, with approximately one new word added to the English language every two hours. Amongst recent words to make their debut in the Oxford English dictionary are vlog, twerking, photobomb and retweet.
3) ‘Swims’ is also ‘swims’ upside down – it’s a natural ambigram.
4) What is special about the following sentence? ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ Give up yet? The sentence uses every letter in the English language and is known as a pangram.
5) The longest English word that can be spelled without repeating any letters is ‘uncopyrightable’.
That brings us onto the world of Grammar, but perhaps we’ll leave that for another day. Do you know your verbs from your nouns, your adjectives from your prepositions? Let’s just say, the English Language has its fair share of complex rules, spellings and structures to abide by.
But, what constitutes a language? Communication? And, where could that be heading? Who’d have thought 10 years ago that we could answer a question with an emoji!?!
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