Thursday, August 14, 2008

13 Thursday English Language Oddities

(Actually I have 25 oddities here.)

1. “Ough” can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

2. The two longest words with only one of the six vowels including y are the 15-letter "defenselessness" and "respectlessness."

3. “Forty” is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order. “One” is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.

4. "Bookkeeper" is the only word that has three consecutive doubled letters.

5. Despite the assertions of a well-known puzzle, modern English does not have three common words ending in -gry. "Angry" and "hungry" are the only ones.

6. "Antidisestablishmentarianism" listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, was considered the longest English word for quite a long time, but today the medical term "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" is usually considered to have the title, despite the fact that it was coined to provide an answer to the question ‘What is the longest English word?’

7. “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

8. There are many words that feature all five regular vowels in alphabetical order, the commonest being abstemious, adventitious, facetious.

9. The superlatively long word honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters) alternates consonants and vowels.

10. “Fickleheaded” and “fiddledeedee” are the longest words consisting only of letters in the first half of the alphabet.

11. "Cwm" (pronounced “koom”, defined as a steep-walled hollow on a hillside) is a rare case of a word used in English in which w is the nucleus vowel, as is crwth (pronounced “krooth”, a type of stringed instrument). Despite their origins in Welsh, they are accepted English words.

12. “Asthma” and “isthmi” are the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.

13. The nine-word sequence "I, in, sin, sing, sting, string, staring, starting (or starling), startling" can be formed by successively adding one letter to the previous word.

14. “Underground” and “underfund” are the only words in the English language that begin and end with the letters “und.”

15. “Stewardesses” is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand.

16. “Almost” is the longest commonly used word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

17. The longest uncommon word whose letters are in alphabetical order is the eight-letter Aegilops (a grass genus).

18. The longest common single-word palindromes are deified, racecar, repaper, reviver, and rotator.

19. “One thousand” contains the letter "A", but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an "A".

20. “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in English.

21. “Rhythms” is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.

22. Excluding derivatives, there are only two words in English that end -shion and (though many words end in this sound). These are "cushion" and "fashion."

23. “THEREIN” is a seven-letter word that contains thirteen words spelled using consecutive letters: the, he, her, er, here, I, there, ere, rein, re, in, therein, and herein.

24. There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: queueing.

25. "Soupspoons" is the longest word that consists entirely of letters from the second half of alphabet.

Did you like them?

6 comments:

Momstheword said...

That is a Thursday 25! Fun and very thought provoking. I am very thankful that I never had to learn English as a 2nd language. It is very complicated, to say the least.

Robin said...

I like them. I agree with Moms that English is complicated and I too am glad its my first language.

Kay Day said...

Did you make that up?

I say dough and scarborough the same. The ough part, I mean.

Julie said...

Oh my. Thats all I got to say.

Julie said...

Now that I see this again I've decided that I don't enjoy words nearly as much as some of my wonderful relatives. Not even close, it kinda made me feel frightened to see all of those terrible-long-hard to say words. Spelling bee from you know where. And the thing is I know that you all can pronounce them and know what they mean! Too much work for me I guess. If it's not easy..count me out! :)

QOTW said...

I agree with Kay about the "ough" in "dough" and "Scarborough." I didn't make any up.

Moms and Robin, our language must be difficult to learn. I think maybe the tonal languages would be more difficult.

Julie, I think you like different aspects of words. There are many ways to like words.