Fun and Interesting Facts About the English Language | RPI College

Learning a language is easier when it is interesting and funny. That is why we have searched to find some lesser-known facts about the English language. You are sure to find at least one of the points below that you have never heard before that will really surprise you!


1. There used to be more letters in the English alphabet.

Did you know that the English language used to have around a dozen more letters than it does now? Thanks to the evolution of English, it has become simpler. For example, in Middle English the letter 'yogh' pronounced 'ch', was almost like the letter p. Also, the letter 'thorn' looked like the letter f in cursive.


2. The official language of pilots while flying is “Aviation English”.

You must speak English to fly an airplane. After a terrible accident occurred in 1977 at Tenerife airport, this rule was established. Because one of the pilots' English was not clear enough for the tower to understand what he said, two airplanes collided. Today, to be a part of the aviation staff, you must pass a proficiency test which includes aviation terminology and the ability to communicate in English when there are obstructions or interferences, as is often the case over radio.


3. Over time, some words have changed their meaning.

In English, there are words that have changed their meaning over time. The word awesome is derived from 'awe,' which used to mean fear or terror. That is where awful came from. Due to this, the word awesome used to have a negative connotation. Also, the word the word 'furniture' used to mean any type of equipment.


4. Over 1500 new words and expressions were added to English by Shakespeare.

If you have read Shakespeare, you already know how important he is to English literature, but his writing also affected the language in a significant way. Over 1500 words have been created through Shakespeare. The words eyeball, lonely, outbreak, submerge, torture or gossip are just a few examples of words that Shakespeare adapted or made up.


5. Grammatical gender used to exist in English.

The English language lost grammatical gender over time. English did not contain it until the 13th century, and it was expressed through articles. There used to be a masculine article 'se' and a feminine article 'seo'. If you used pronouns, you would not use 'it' for things, but instead use 'he' or 'she', depending on the gender. There are some linguists who believe that gender has disappeared as a result of the Vikings. Old Norse, the language they brought to Northern England, also had genders. Unfortunately, they did not always match the ones in English, so people stopped using them to avoid confusion.


6. English words can mean different things.

Do you find it strange that a word can have two different meanings? This can be explained by the context in which it is used. The English language has plenty of examples. For instance, dust can mean both dusting your cake with sugar powder and dusting the table to get rid of dirt.


7. The average English speaker knows around 40,000 words.

A recent study was done to determine the number of English words the average adult native English speaker knows. The study revealed the following: Most test-takers have a vocabulary range of about 20,000-35,000 words. Also, most test-takers learn almost 1 new word a day until middle age, with vocabulary growth typically stopping or slowing drastically when they reach middle age.


There is a lot to learn about English every day. Some of these facts are funny, some are curious, but one thing is for certain: there is always something new to learn about the English language.