10 facts about the English language

10 facts about the English language that you didn't know Did you know that the English language is spoken by over 840 million people (both as their first or second language) and that English is the official language in more than 50 countries? The English language has a long and interesting history. Here’s a quick history of the English language periods:

Old English The English language came to Britain between the 5th – 7th century A.D., it’s a West Germanic language which was brought over by Anglo-Saxon settlers.

Middle English Following the Old English period, was the Middle English period which dates from 11th century (when the Norman’s invaded Britain) to the 15th century.

Early Modern English This is the language that was used by Shakespeare, dating from around 1500. The Early Modern English period brought a change in pronunciation of words with long vowels.

Modern English The Modern English period is dated from the late 17th century; this is the English that we speak today!


  1. The first English dictionary was written in 1755.

  2. It is estimated that 4,000 words a year are added to the dictionary. The recent funny entries are ‘Hangry’ (feeling irritable or irrationally angry as a result of being hungry), ‘YOLO’ (the acronym meaning ‘you only live once’) and ‘cheeseball’ (someone or something lacking taste, style, or originality; or the breaded and deep fried cheese appetiser).

  3. A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter in the alphabet. For example, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

  4. Crutch words refer to the words that we use a lot, but that don’t add any value to the sentence, such as these words that are often used to begin a sentence: ‘actually’, ‘honestly’ and ‘basically’.

  5. The letter ‘E’ is most commonly used in the English language; 1 out of 8 of all the letters written in English is ‘e’.

  6. ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ is the longest word in the English language, it has 45 letters and it is a type of lung disease, caused by inhaling ash and sand dust. (Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it… I’m a native English speaker and even I wouldn’t want to try and say that!)

  7. Apparently, the English language is one of the happiest languages in the world. And did you know the word ‘happy’ is used 3 times more often than the word ‘sad’?

  8. There was no word for the colour orange until about 450 years ago. Also orange, purple and silver are all words (and colours) that don’t rhyme.

  9. Shakespeare invented over 17,000 words, by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words that had never been used together, adding prefixes and suffixes and creating original words. Lonely, elbow, luggage and fashionable are some examples of the words Shakespeare invented.

  10. ‘Gowpen’ means forming a bowl by cupping your hands together.


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