Last updated on February 24th, 2018
10 Facts about the English language
#21. ‘Ghost words’ have often appeared in dictionaries, but they actually mean nothing. The Oxford English Dictionary possibly misprinted the word ne-moubliemiesfor ‘forget-me-nots’ into ‘momblishness’, which it described as ‘muttering talk’.
#22. Shakespeare would have called magpies ‘maggot-pies’.
#23. Though the French and British may have longstanding rivalries, the English language has taken many of its legal, political and military terms from the French.
#24. Many medical and scientific terms come from Greek words. Words that start with ph – are usually of Greek origin! Think phobia, physical, philosophy etc.
#25. Many trade, shipping and painting-related words come from the Dutch language. Skipper, landscape, freebooter, easel etc. clearly point to Dutch navigators and Dutch Masters who influenced the British!
#26. The word ‘cannibal’ came from the Spanish Caribbeans! Makes you wonder what Christopher Columbus found there…
#27. Pyjamas was actually an Indian Bengali word derived from Persian that came into the English language.
#28. ‘Veal’ is French, because in medieval England only the wealthy Norman invaders could afford veal, while the poor commoners could only afford the humble ‘chicken’ which derived from Dutch and German languages.
#29. The slang ‘schmuck’ for a foolish person actually comes from the Yiddish word ‘shmok’ meaning male genitals!
#30. It is not surprising that ‘salsa’ comes from Spanish, but did you know, so did ‘tornado’?
10 Interesting facts about Britain
#31. MPs in the House of Commons of the British Parliament always have a snuff box waiting for them at the front door with free snuff. It’s not clear if any of the MPs still use it, but the wooden box with a silver plaque is maintained by the principal doorkeeper.
#32. The British Royal Family is not just an icon of tradition (and fashion). Only when the Queen gives her ‘Royal Assent’ on a bill and signs it, can it become an act. Interestingly, Royal Assent has not been refused since 1707.
#33. The Scottish national animal is the Unicorn. Why a creature that doesn’t even exist? It appears that according to Scottish mythology, the Unicorn is the natural enemy of the Lion, the symbol that the English royal family adopted for itself.
#34. The oldest building in Britain today is at Skara Brae, in the Orkney Isles of Scotland.
#35. The world’s shortest flight is only 47 seconds (in ideal weather) to 2 minutes long, between the Orkney Islands of Papa Westray and Westray.
#36. The Loch Ness with its legendary monster lies in Scotland, and has offered many sightings of Nessie. Some people believe it is a descendant of a prehistoric marine dinosaur.
#37. Sadly only 21 percent of local Welsh people can speak their native language, which is called the British tongue in English. This is ironic, since 98 percent of Britain’s population (derived from the oldest name for the British Islands) speak English.
#38. Llanfairpwllgwyngyll is a town in Wales, with the second-longest single word place name in the world. You wouldn’t want to know what the longest is.
#39. Game of Thrones fans were incensed to find that the set for Dark Hedges was painted with a white line down the middle by road maintenance crew in Armoy, Northern Ireland. Thankfully, the mistake was cleaned up soon.
#40. According to the Sunday Observance Act of 1780, it is technically illegal to go to the cinema in Northern Ireland on Sundays. You could be fined up to 50 pounds.
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