Although English is not the hardest language to master (see this post for ten languages that are even harder), it frequently presents problems, even for its native speakers. Consider the problem with writing the sentence, "I never said she stole my money." What meaning are you attempting to convey? There are seven different meanings the... Continue Reading →
If you are a lover of obnoxiously-long words, you already know the definition of hippopotomonstrosesquipidelian is "of or pertaining to extremely long words." Perhaps you already know these English language monstrosities that probably won't show up in a crossword puzzle any time soon: honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters): The longest word used by William Shakespeare, as well... Continue Reading →
The 85-characters long Maori name for a hill in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, is the longest place name found in any English speaking country. It is, Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which roughly translates as, “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute... Continue Reading →
"Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable soddingrotters, the flaming sods, the sniveling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse-less lot that make up England today. They've got white of egg in their veins, and their spunk is that watery it's a marvel they can breed." -- English author D.H. Lawrence, in a... Continue Reading →
As rich as the English language is, there are plenty of words in other languages that English has not yet adopted. Here are a few of these much-needed gems: Hikikomori (Japanese) -- A teenager or 20-something who has withdrawn from social life, often obsessed with TV and video games. Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan) --... Continue Reading →
In 2011 European bookies were putting the odds of Queen Elizabeth II abdicating and replacing Bruce Forsyth as the host of the popular BBC dance competition Strictly Come Dancing at 50,000 to 1. source To put that in context consider the odds of the following: Being struck by lightning in one's lifetime: 1 in 12,000... Continue Reading →
A French lady to an American who was trying to converse in French: "How wise of you not to attempt the French accent!" source
The Duke of Windsor's visits with French troops in the early days of World War II were helpful in boosting morale, but his flaccid grasp of the French language sometimes resulted in unintended levity. At one luncheon where he was the guest of the French Army, he remarked that after the war, France and England... Continue Reading →
When Crown Princess (later Queen) Louise of Sweden visited Uppsala Cathedral, the Archbishop conducted the tour in English. His use of the language was good, but he got tripped up at a very inconvenient time. As they approached a chest of drawers holding priceless items, the Archbishop said, "I will now open these trousers and... Continue Reading →
Japanese speakers frequently have difficulty differentiating between the English letters "L" and "R". This was particularly evident in 1950 when supporters of General Douglas MacArthur (then serving as military governor of Japan during the post-war occupation) tried to encourage him to run in the next US Presidential election. While the general undoubtedly appreciated the vote... Continue Reading →
H.L. Mencken did not hide his dislike of President Warren G. Harding. He was especially loathful of Harding's mangling of the English language and called such utterings "Gamalielese", in honor of the President's middle name, Gamaliel. Expressing his frustration in The Baltimore Sun on March 7, 1921, Mencken let loose: “He writes the worst English... Continue Reading →
It is commonly said that no word in the English language rhymes with orange. This amuses the people in Wales who live near the hill named Blorenge.
The word uncopyrightable is the longest English word in normal use that contains no letter more than once.
In Scotland it is illegal to kill an Englishman -- except for pleasure. source