Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Wordiest Of Them All


Of the world’s five thousand languages, English is considered the richest language with a torrential flow of words. While the very first dictionary in English language published in London in 1604 contained just 2,500 words, English today contains nearly half a million words plus a further of 3,00,000 or so technical terms. By contrast, the Germans have a vocabulary of just 1, 85,000 words and the French just about 1, 00,000 words. While English has the capacity to make a statement in simple Saxon words which anyone can understand, it has a vocabulary rich enough to make the same statement in lengthy and verbose words, mostly of Latin derivative, which cannot be normally deciphered without reference to a dictionary. This style of verbose English is attributed to the 18th century lexicographer Samuel Johnson and is known as Johnsonian English. The following examples are a few illustrations:

Making mountain of a molehill:

1. Everything that coruscates with effulgence is not ipso facto aurous.
[All that glitters is not gold]
2. Individuals who perforce are constrained to be domiciled in
vitreous structures of patent frangibility should on no account employ petrous
formations as projectiles
[People living in glass houses should not throw stones at others]
3. A mass of concentrated earthly material rotating on its axis will not
accumulate an accretion of bryophitic vegetation.
[A rolling stone gathers no moss]
4. That prudent avis which matutinally deserts the coziness of its abode will ensnare a vermiculate creature.
[The early bird catches the worm]
5. Aberration is the hallmark of homo-sapiens while longanimous placability and condonation are the indices of super mundane omniscience
[To err is human; to forgive is divine]

Anagrams: Anagram is a re-arrangement of letters in a word or a phrase to form another word or phrase. Anagrams are said to have originated in Greece sometime in 4th Century B.C. They become more interesting when they relate in some way to the original word or phrase. A few examples:

Dormitory: Dirty room
William Shakespeare: We all make his praise
A Decimal Point: I’m a dot in place
Endearment: Tender Name
Bathing Girl: In Slight Garb
The Morse code: Here comes Dots
Circumstantial Evidence: Actual Crime isn’t evinced
Astronomer: Moon Starer
Madame Curie: Radium Came

Pangram: A pangram is a sentence that uses all the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Example:
1. The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog [ 31 letters]
2. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs [ 32 letters ]

English is a Funny Language:

1. When a girl says ‘you are going too far’ she means ‘you are coming too close’
2. Copyright is what takes away the right to copy
3. Flammable means the same as inflammable
4. Night falls; but it does not break
Day breaks; but id does not fall
5. Female nurse is called sister but a male nurse is not a brother
6. The day begins at midnight
7. Morning sickness may occur at night also

B.B.C. English: Standard British English, also known as the Queen’s English, is the English spoken by the B.B.C. Newsreaders. Its origin lies in the early part of the 15th century when Government records started being written in English rather than in Latin. This helped to standardize vocabulary and grammar.

Words and Sound: It is no longer possible to say that such and such a letter in English always and everywhere signifies such and such a sound. For example, a combination of the four letters O, U, G, and H is used to signify at least seven distinctly and even widely different sounds : as in Though, Tough, Cough, Hiccough, Plough, Through and Thought

What is Up: The two letter word ‘up ‘is easy to understand when it means upwards [towards a sky or towards the top]. But when we awaken, why do we wake up? And why it is up to the secretary to write a report? Similarly, for no reason or logic, we brighten up a room, light up a cigarette; lock up the house; line up for a ticket.

Siamese Twins: Siamese Twins in the medical field is understood but not in English writing. Probably we use twin words for the sake of emphasis. Prices go up by leaps and bounds; we put our heart and soul into the matter; the contract becomes null and void; the manager knows the nuts and bolts of administration. However, there are certain pairs of repetitive words like on and on, out and out, through and through, bag and baggage wherein the same word is repeated. These are called Binomials which do not permit deletion of the repeated word. For example, when we say ‘My cousin left the village bag and baggage’ we cannot delete either of the repeated word. Otherwise, it becomes ‘My cousin left the village bag’ or ‘my cousin left the village baggage

English Poetry: A local magistrate was asked to try the case of a school teacher whose dedication to English poetry was almost equal to his devotion to the bottle.
“You are charged with being drunk and disorderly” said the magistrate “Have you anything to say why the sentence should not be pronounced?”
The teacher replied “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn. I am not as debased as Edgar Allan Poe, as profligate as Byron, as ungrateful as John Keats, as intemperate as Burns, as timid as Tennyson and as vulgar as Shakespeare, so—
“That will do” interrupted the magistrate “Seven days Simple imprisonment. And officer, take down the names of the others he mentioned and round them up. They sound as bad as he is”.

English Grammar: There is a general perception that learning of grammar in any language is difficult. English is no exception.

A schoolboy was finding it extremely difficult to learn English grammar. Once he was so much fed up with the subject that he wrote the following epitaph to be inscribed on his tombstone when he died:

“When I die, bury me deep
Bury my Grammar book at my feet.
Tell the teacher I have gone to rest
And won’t be back for the grammar test”


ARTICLE No. 523---The English Language
Created: Friday, September 18, 2009 9:27 PM


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