English was originally a West Germanic language that spread across Britain over 14 centuries ago. The initial language, termed as Old English, was possibly brought to the British Isles by Anglo-Saxon settlers from places like Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. It was later, in the 11th century, that Old English was highly influenced by the French language brought during the Norman conquest of England, which explains the huge quantity of French words in modern English.
During the time of Shakespeare, that is, the 1500's, the development of Early Modern English began. With the help of colonization, the language spread like wildfire across the entirety of the British Empire, including modern-day United States, Canada, and Australia. In this period, quite a few foreign spellings were introduced to English, several changes in pronunciation occurred, and the frequently shifting vernacular (from daddy-o to dude) in the former colonies made the language develop into the English we speak today.
Now this incredible ancient language is spoken in over 60 countries, with 18 countries maintaining it as an official language. But that’s just a short recap of the history of this great language. Here are some facts that are sure to surprise you!
1. “Bookkeeper” is the only un-hyphenated word in the English language with three consecutive double letters.
2. An Ambigram is a word that looks the same upside down as right-side up. The word “Swims” is an ambigram.
3. Shakespeare added over a thousand new words to the English Language, like addiction, swagger, bedazzled and cold-blooded.
4. A pangram is a sentence that contains every letter in the alphabet. For example, the sentence 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' is a pangram.
5. The word “set” has 430 different meanings. In 2011, it was dethroned as the word with the most meanings by the word “run”, which has 645 different definitions.
6. The Mayan god of wind and storms was called Jun Raqan, pronounced “huracan”, hence the English word “hurricane.”
7. The English alphabet used to have 29 letters instead of the current 26.
8. The Most Common Letter Used in the English language is the letter “E”.
9. 'I am.' is the shortest non-elliptical sentence in English.
10. Approximately one new word is added to the English language every two hours.
-picsilicovolcanoconiosis' is the longest word in the English Dictionary.
12. The word “sparkle”, which essentially means ‘to shine’, has a counterpart word “darkle”, which means ‘to darken’.
13. Many English words used to be spelled phonetically (e.g. debt was ‘det’) until some scholars purposely added silent letters to make them look more like Greek or Latin words, sometimes erroneously.
14. ‘I, love, black, mother, fire, hand, and hear’ are some of the oldest English words that date back to 900 AD.
15. The word “uncopyrightable” is the longest ordinarily used English word that contains no letter more than once.