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Interesting facts about the English language

Edition Lifehacker collected fascinating and sometimes unexpected facts about the English language.

Фото: Depositphotos


Although English only takes 3 in the list of the most popular, the total number of people who speak English is more than a billion. This is about every 7 th earthling. However, one should not think that the majority of English-speaking people live in the USA and England. For example, there are more English speakers in Nigeria than in England. And in Sweden, 89% of residents know this language.

UK and USA

In the language sphere between these countries, there are rather vague relations. During the struggle for independence and the construction of a young American state, attempts were made to invent their own American language, which Noa Webster excelled in (Noah webster), published its "American Dictionary of English." And in Illinois before 1969, there was a law prohibiting speaking in English. As an official language of this state it was prescribed to use the American language. However, at present, in the USA, researchers distinguish entire 24 dialects of the English language. Not surprisingly, publishers had to translate Harry Potter books from English to American.


  • The most commonly used letter in English E, and least of all - Q.
  • Everyone knows that the letters in English can be pronounced completely differently. Here is a good example: Caesar couldn people (He believed that Caesar saw people exciting the seas). In this sentence, the sound [i:] is transmitted to 7 by different letter combinations.
  • The English alphabet once counted the letter 1 more. This letter was a symbol &.
  • If you remove the last 4 letters in the word queue (turn), his pronunciation will not change.


In any language there are unusual words that stand out from the general range of interesting writing or sound. Here are some examples from English.

  • The longest English word without vowels - rhythms (rhythms).
  • In English, there is a word with a vowel that is repeated 6 times, - indivisibility (unity).
  • The most ambiguous word in the English language - set. It has 44 basic meanings for the verb, 17 meanings for the noun, 7 meanings for the adjective, and a few more hundreds of different variations. So when translating this insidious word you need to be especially careful.
  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis - the longest word that denotes the name of the disease and translates into Russian approximately like this: “lung disease caused by inhalation of particles of volcanic origin or other fine dust”. The most interesting is that such a disease does not really exist.
  • From 1932 to 1940, due to a typographical error, there was a word in the English dictionary that had no meaning. This word dordalso known as the ghost word.


  • The most difficult patter in English: The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.
  • Proposal The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog (The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog) is unique in that it contains all the letters of the English alphabet. That is why it is used to demonstrate different fonts.
  • The shortest English sentences containing the subject and the predicate are I am и I do.
  • The longest sentence in fiction in English is 13 955 words (“Club of Rakali”, Jonathan Coe).


  • English appeared in the early Middle Ages in Germanic tribes (!), Invading Britain after the departure of the Romans.
  • Word flange (bride) comes from an old Germanic word meaning cooking process.
  • The most ancient words in English are I (I), we (we), Two (two) and three (three). Linguists believe that they appeared several thousand years ago.
  • Word goodbye (goodbye) once completely sounded like God be with ye (Old English "May the Lord be with you").
  • Until the 15th century, there were no punctuation marks in English.

Wealth and poverty

There is a theory that English has become so widespread due to its simplicity and uniqueness. However, this is not the case. In English, the most words (about 800 thousands) and the richest synonymous series. For example, for the word drunk (drunk) there is a 2 241 synonym, and this result is even recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. In addition, English is one of the fastest growing languages. Every 98 minutes a new word appears in conversational practice.

And at the same time, in 90% of texts written in English, no more than 1 000 different words are used. And for ordinary everyday communication, it is enough to know 1 500 – 2 000 words.

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