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Fun facts about the English language (that have nothing to do with certified translations)

Fun facts about language

The chances are, if you’re reading this, you can read and speak English. But whether it’s your native tongue, or you’ve learned English through study or immersion, just how well do you really know the language?

It’s famously one of the trickiest second languages to learn – of course, for native speakers, it was a cinch, although we can’t remember doing so! And while we could spend an awful amount of time talking about why it’s so hard to learn to speak and write it correctly, we thought we’d share with you some of our favourite fascinating facts about English in general. How many of the following were you already aware of? Why not let us know some of your own language facts?

  • The oldest word in the English language is actually the shortest. That word, if you’ve not already guessed, is ‘I’. It’s also the most common. Does this tell us something about self-importance of English speakers? Or humans in general?

  • The longest word in English, however, is something of a mouthful. At 45 letters, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a disease of the lungs. We’re sure plenty of doctors have enjoyed pronouncing that one! Although we do a lot of medical certified translations, we haven’t had to translate this word so far!

  • There’s thought to be around 171,000 words regularly used in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. On top of those, 47,000 more are considered obsolete. How many have you used? Any idea?

  • In fact, you’ve probably not even heard of most of them. It’s thought that most adults know up to 35,000 words. That still seems a lot to remember!

  • There’s a new word added to the dictionary roughly every two hours. That’s twelve new words a day, 84 words a week, and 4,368 words a year.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary named an emoji as their ‘Word of the Year’ in 2015. The emoji in question? ‘Face With Tears of Joy’. It’s a symbol that’s often been misinterpreted as a sad face crying.

  • Believe it or not, there are now more people worldwide who have learned English as a foreign or second language than those who speak it natively! It is the third-most common language in the world in terms of native speakers, behind Chinese and Spanish. Being the three most widely spoken languages, we get a lot of requests for certified translations between them.

  • Crutch words refer to those which are used far too often in speech and writing. You probably know and use a few with or without realising. Some of the biggest culprits are ‘basically’, ‘like’ and ‘obviously’. We try to keep these added extras out of our certified translations!

  • There are some acronyms which have become common English words. Acronyms are abbreviations of longer phrases, such as RADAR, which stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. Other acronyms which remain popular in regular use include Yuppie, Modem, Sonar, Scuba, Laser and – perhaps a little less ‘PG’ – Snafu. We’ll let you look that one up!

  • English is not the official language of the US. That

distinction belongs to… absolutely nothing! There’s never been an official US language. A certified translation for use in America will still most likely need to be in English.

  • English has changed dramatically over time. For example, the word ‘awful’ used to mean ‘full of awe’. That makes sense, if you think about it!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these fun facts about our unique and ever-changing language. Are you in need of a certified translation to or from the English language? If so, our team is always on hand to help. Just get in touch. As ever, thanks for reading.

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