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8 Fun Facts About Language That Will Blow Your Mind
Published on December 4, 2023
Language enriches the world. Different languages and their diversity not only offer us the possibility to communicate but also to have fun . Whether you're a language enthusiast or just curious about the delicacies of communication, prepare for an unexpected adventure into the world of languages.
From the intriguing origins of peculiar words to the fascinating singularities of grammatical structures, here you have some linguistic fun facts to surprise your friends the next time you see them, with a mysterious treat left for the very end.
Quick as a fox!
There are no speeding fines in Japan. Well, there are if you're driving, but when it comes to speaking, Japanese people break all speed records .
You've probably had the opportunity to hear someone speak Japanese. Did it sound too fast? You'll be glad to know that it is not just your perception.
In fact –buckle up!– Japanese is the fastest language in the world , and its speakers can produce 7.84 syllables per second. Its accelerated rhythm is due to the compactness of its words and its unique syllabic structure.
No, there are no mistakes in the title. You read it right; those astonishing 45 characters make up the longest word in the English language , according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Can you pronounce the whole thing? You'd better get a good breath of fresh air before you try.
If you want to know what it means, this may give you a clue: "pneumo-" refers to the lungs, and the suffix "-osis" indicates a condition, state, or disease. This incredible word refers to a type of lung disorder caused by inhaling silica dust, usually used in the manufacture of glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, and artificial stone.
Official in many countries, but not here
The United States is a diverse and multicultural nation. English and Spanish are the first and second most spoken languages, but they are only two among many .
Although English is the official language of a few different countries around the world, such as Australia, Canada, and Botswana; it is not the official language of the United States. In fact, the country has no declared official language .
Despite this fact, some states –like Oklahoma , South Carolina , Utah , and many others– have declared English the official state language .
The longest alphabet
The English alphabet has 26 letters. While that may seem like a lot, it doesn't compare to the number of letters in the alphabet you'll see below.
With 74 letters (33 consonants and 41 vowels), Khmer is the longest alphabet in the world . Even the Guinness World Records recognizes this alphabet for its length!
Also known as Cambodian, Khmer is the official language of Cambodia , spoken by some 15 million native speakers. What makes it even more complex is the fact that words in the same sentence are usually written without spaces between them.
Sign languages are important tools for communication and inclusion, so it is always good to learn how to use them. According to the United Nations , there are about 300 different sign languages worldwide. Approximately 70 million people use sign languages every day around the world.
Different parts of the world have different sign languages with their distinctive structure and characteristics. There is also an international sign language to facilitate global communication.
The UN General Assembly designated 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages to promote awareness of its value.
Unless It's Raining Men , as in the famous song by the Weather Girls, rain is usually the same, right? Well, it seems it's not always like that, at least not in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian language has about 200 words for rain . This impressive number can be attributed to Hawaiians' deep connection to nature, which also demonstrates the intricate relationship between a language and its environment.
Each of those 200 words defines rain by different characteristics , including its intensity or duration.
The most common letter
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the most used letter in English is E . Which means that many words in our language have it. Do you dare to count how many times E shows up in this article?
Its frequency in our language probably explains why it is worth only 1 point in Scrabble. On the other hand, the least common letters in English, J, X, Q , and Z , are worth 8 and 10 points.
The frequency of the letter E is not a coincidence , it is explained by the fact that it appears in a very used word: the . We also find it in pronouns such as he, she, me, we, and they , and in plurals ending in -es .
One of the most intriguing languages in the world is one of the oldest living European languages , too. Euskera , also known as the Basque language , has a long history, and its origins have not yet been established with certainty.
Basque remains a cultural symbol for native speakers and continues to thrive. Although there have been many hypotheses about its origin, specialists stated that Euskera is not an Indo-European language. That is to say that, apparently, it doesn't share roots with any other European language.
Euskera’s unknown bases have led to the craziest theories. Some ancient linguists have even attributed its existence to extraterrestrial beings!
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