English: 10 fun facts and a brief history
In the 5th century AD, three Germanic tribes arrived on the shores of Britain, marking the beginning of the history of the English language. These tribes – the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes – crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany.
At the time, people in Britain spoke Celtic. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders – mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from Engla land and their language was called Englisc, which is where the words ‘England’ and ‘English’ are derived from.
10 fun facts
1. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the longest word in the English language is: ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’. The only other word with the same number of letters is its plural: ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses’.
2. The word ‘alphabet’ is etymologically derived from the first two letters in the Greek alphabet: ‘alpha’ and ‘beta'.
3. ‘Underground’ is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters ‘und’.
4. ‘Testify’ is a word based on the tradition of men in the Roman court who validated the truth of their statements by swearing on their testicles. Luckily, nowadays we swear on a book instead.
5. No other word in the English language rhymes with month, and no English words rhyme with orange, silver or purple.
6. The combination of letters ‘ough’ can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: ‘A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough (American accent needed); after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed (hiccupped).’
7. The English word ‘fart’ is one of the oldest words in the English vocabulary. Etymologically, its immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten, feortan or farten, which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan, now furzen (to fart) or just plain der Furz (fart). The Old English word for ‘fart’ was verteth.
8. The shortest complete sentence in the English language is: ‘I am.’
9. This sentence has every letter of the alphabet in it: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’
10. What is the longest one-syllable word in English? You might be surprised to find out that it’s ‘screeched’.
Whether you’re just starting to learn the language at an English school London is home to, or you’re at a more advanced level and taking a Business English course, prepare yourself for many surprises. The English language is rich and diverse thanks to its many influences.