Worldly Translations

14 curious facts about the English language

As language scholars and aficionados, we at Worldly Translations always enjoy sharing the singularities that make each language unique.

Have you ever asked yourselves questions like: “which is the longest word in my native language?”, “how many sounds are there in my language?” or “which is the longest monosyllabic word in the foreign language that I’ve been studying for years?”. These questions and many more that revolve around languages, spark our curiosity every day.

Beyond the main idiomatic differences that make professional translations into a true challenge, the small details are what actually make each language special and different from all other. Those words that don’t have an equivalent in another language or the regional differences that distinguishes between native speakers of the same language, all of it is part of the universe of language singularities.

In this article, we invite you to learn these 14 curious facts about the English language that we find very interesting and would like to share with our readers:

Fact #1

The English alphabet has 26 letters from which 5 are vowels and 21 are consonants. However, the English languages has 44 sounds that are represented by symbols. This is probably why it can be very hard for a non-native English speaker to learn how to pronounce English words properly, even though it can be easy to learn how to write correctly.

Fact #2

Related to the previous fact, the most commonly used letters in the English language are the “e” vowel (approximately 11% of the language), followed by two consonants: the “r” and “t”. However, most words in the English dictionary start with another letter: the “s”.

Fact #3

The words that are most commonly used by English speakers are these four: “I”, “you”, “the” and “be”. Another related singularity: it is estimated that the English language actually has more than one million words, from which only one third (around 350 thousand) are officially included with their meaning in English dictionaries.

Fact #4

The English language has one of the world’s longest words. According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is a term designated for a very specific pulmonary disease: “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”. We’ll save you the time, this word is composed of 45 letters!

Fact #5

The longest word without vowels is much simpler and it’s known by music lovers around the globe: “rhythm”.

Fact #6

Another one is the longest monosyllabic word of the English language: “screeched”.

Fact #7

On the other hand, the shortest and most comprehensive phrase is “I am”. Why? Because of the simple fact that it has a subject and predicate while it’s conformed of only two words and three letters.

Fact #8

When talking about vowels, the words “abstemious” and “facetious” are the only two terms of the English dictionary that has all the vowels, and they are in alphabetical order (a, e, i, o, u).

Fact #9

In terms of meanings and the importance of context when translating, the term “set” is the word with the most meanings. “Set” can be a noun, verb or adjective, used for a variety of things, such as: “game (set)”, “collection”, “film (set)”, “establish”, “to fit something somewhere” amongst many others.

Fact #10

Even though these are two words widely used, the adjectives “hungry” and “angry” are the only two that end with the syllable “gry”. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we usually get angry when we are hungry!

Fact #11

Did you know that international statistics have proven that at least a quarter of the world’s population speaks “some” English. So much so, that English is the predominant language in more than 60 countries, even though it is not the official language of the nation in many of them.

Fact #12

Even though these are two words widely used, the adjectives “hungry” and “angry” are the only two that end with the syllable “gry”. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that we usually get angry when we are hungry!

Fact #13

Even though the United States does not have an official language, there are 24 different dialects co-existing in this country.

Fact #14

To conclude, we would like to share a fact that we believe to be very fun and interesting: according to the Guinness of World Records, the hardest tongue twister of the English language is: “sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”.

We hope you enjoyed these 14 curious facts about the English language. Until the next time!