Showing posts with label English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English. Show all posts

Jun 2, 2017


According to Ethnologue, there are over 7,000 distinct languages in the world and about 40,000 dialects. Some languages, like Russian and Hindi, are written from left-to-right, while others, like Hebrew and Persian, are written right-to-left.
The nation of Papua New Guinea has the highest language diversity in the world. There are 820 languages spoken in an area the size of Spain.

There are logographic languages, like Japanese and Korean, where symbols represent words, and there are Dongba and Nsibidi which are pictographic languages where symbols represent ideas.

Incidentally, there are over 1.5 billion speakers of English globally. In 2015, out of the total 195 countries in the world, 67 nations have English as the primary language of 'official status'. Plus there are 27 countries where English is spoken as a secondary 'official' language.

Oct 14, 2016

Pronunciation Poem

The following is the beginning of a poem "The Chaos" The only way it makes sense is if you know how to correctly pronounce the words. If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

The poem was written during 1922 by Gerard Nolst Trenité. Here is a LINK to the poem in its entirety. There is also a YouTube version with someone reading it out loud (6 minutes long) LINK. Friday fun diversion.

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
   Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
   Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare heart, hear and heard,
   Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's written).
   Made has not the sound of bade,
   Say-said, pay-paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
   But be careful how you speak,
   Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
   Woven, oven, how and low,
   Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Feb 5, 2013

Vowel-less Words

English is a funny language with many interesting words.
BRR – The way you tell people that it is very chilly.

HMM – Accepted (in addition to “hm”) as a sound of contemplation. When you are thinking more, it is “hmm” instead of “hm.”

NTH – Having the quality of being the last in a series of infinitely increasing or decreasing values. (As in, “the nth degree.”)

PHT – An interjection used to signify mild annoyance or disagreement.

SHH – A way to urge someone to be quiet.

TSK – An interjection often used in quick repetition like “tsktsk” to express contempt or disdain.

PFFT – A way to express that something is dying or fizzling out.

PSST – Used to attract someone’s attention.

Aug 15, 2012

English and the Internet

According to the translation firm Smartling, native English speakers only represented 3% of the total Internet population in 2011. Yet, 56% of online pages are English-only.

Many would not spend time on a Japanese website without understanding Japanese if Google Translate didn’t exist. Conversely, many would not spend time on an English website without an online translator.

Dec 10, 2011

Say What

There are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today. Research shows that  one vanishes every 14 days when its last speaker dies.  In a hundred years, predictions are that half will disappear.

In Brazil, 4,000 people are left who speak Kayapo. Their language distinguishes between 56 types of bees. Of the 231 languages spoken in Australia, at least 50 have never been written. Forty languages are still spoken in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, many of them originally used by Indian tribes and others introduced by Eastern tribes that were forced to resettle on reservations.

83 languages with “global” influence are spoken and written by 80 percent of the world population.  Lesser used languages will fall by the wayside, while English will become the most used form of communication around the world. More people in China speak English than in the whole United States. English is the official language of more countries than any other language.

The top five most spoken languages in the world, in order are: Mandarin, English, Hindustani, Spanish, and Russian.

May 10, 2011

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

This phrase has been current in English since the mid 15th century. It means that it's better to have a thing of lesser value in reality than it is to have something of greater value in theory.

For example, it's better to work at a modest job to make a living, than to wait for someone to offer you a high-paying one that might never happen.

One origin of the story is that a huntsman knew that he could easily catch at least one bird if he waited by a stream. There were many more birds in the forest, but he could not be sure he would catch any there if he tried.
What you have (a bird in the hand) is worth more than what you might possibly get (two birds in the bush).

Apr 23, 2010


Adding new words and phrases into English has been greatly enhanced by the pleasure we get from playing with words. There are numerous alliterative and rhyming idioms which are a significant feature of our language. We start in the nursery with choo-choos, move on in adult life to hanky-panky and end up in the nursing home having a sing-song.

The repeating of parts of words to make new forms is called reduplication. There are various categories of this: rhyming, exact and ablaut (vowel substitution). Examples, are respectively, okey-dokey, wee-wee, and zig-zag. The words that make up these reduplicated idioms often have little meaning in themselves and only appear as part of a pair. In other cases, one word will allude to some existing meaning and the other half of the pair is added for effect or emphasis. Is there anything other than a spider that is eency-weency? Is there anything other than a dance that is hokey-pokey?

During the 1920s, following the First World War, when many nonsense word pairs were coined, such as  the bee's knees, heebie-jeebies etc. Willy-nilly is over a thousand years old. Riff-raff dates from the 1400s and helter-skelter, arsy-versy ( a form of vice-versa), and hocus-pocus all date from the 16th century. Now we have bling-bling, boob-tube and hip-hop. Just thought I would razzle-dazzle you with this one.

Dec 31, 2009


There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world and half or more of them could cease to exist by 2100.

Languages are dying out around the globe through globalization, social change, and a shift in populations from rural areas to cities. Of the 6,500 languages estimated to be still in use, only 11 are spoken by half the world's population, and 95 percent of the languages are spoken by less than five percent of the global population.

A new project, the World Oral Literature Project, by the University of Cambridge's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, aims to preserve the linguistic diversity being lost. The project is recording and documenting languages that face the prospect of dying out, with the goal of preserving their poems, chants, stories, and anything else that can be recorded. This is somewhat like the Rosetta Stone Project, which began about ten years ago and that has documented 2,500 languages for the same purpose.

The language used by most people is Chinese Mandarin, followed by English and Spanish. The language spoken by most countries is English, followed by French, then Spanish.

1.5  billion people speak Chinese, 1 billion plus speak English, and about 500 million speak Spanish. English is spoken in more countries than any other language.

English is a West Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-Saxon era. It has become common as a result of the military, economic, scientific, political, and cultural influence of the British Empire during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, and of the United States since the mid 20th century. All y'all listen up?