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5 Cool Facts about the English Language

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Most of us would know that English is the main lingua franca of the world (it is the official language of 67 countries!), and it is the medium of instruction in Singapore.

Other than that, what do we know?

The English language is as fascinating as it is popular and obviously has its own history and quirks. Instead of only focusing on grammar and other theoretical aspects, don’t forget to enjoy its more entertaining side. Here are some cool facts about the language, for you to imbibe and to store in your general knowledge memory bank:

Fact 1:

The English Language evolved from other languages

Did you know that languages can be grouped according to how closely related they are? For example, the English Language can be traced back to a mixture of Latin and French words of Germanic origin. Linguists study the grammar as well as the vocabulary of languages and historical records, in order to trace the roots of different languages.

Take a look at this amazing depiction, by Minna Sundberg:

Some English words with German origin are:

kindergarten (which is why it is spelt with a "t" rather than a "d")

wunderkind (a child prodigy)

fest (feast)

poltergeist (ghost)

rucksack (backpack)

buffet (table)

etiquette (proper behaviour)

plateau (a flat highland)

ricochet (to bounce off)

You can actually tell that they are somewhat "different", either because of the way they are pronounced, or the way they are spelled.

Fact 2:

You cannot find an exact rhyme for the word "orange"

Ooops....Is this really true?

Alright, Alright. So there are three words that rhyme with English. But when have you ever used them? Enough said.

Fact 3:

Crutch words" is the name for words that we repeat often

Well, all of us are adept at using crutch words. The thing about them, is that they add no value to a sentence whatsoever!

E.g. "I was, like, totally taken aback, like, I was asking myself, like, what was he up to?"

Note - The word "like" has no value in the sentence.

Fact 4:

"Like" the crutch word is derived from "Valley-Speak"

Speaking of the crutch word 'like' - it is part of a dialect known as "Valley-Speak".

For one reason or other, it became popular among teenage girls worldwide from 1981 to 1985 (yes, it is OLD – so, like, give it up, already!), after the movie "Clueless" (see picture below) depicted young, upper-class white women in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California speaking in that particular way.

Fact 5:

I am a pilot and I definitely speak English!

Believe it or not, all pilots flying in the air have to speak in English to air traffic controllers, regardless of their nationality. If you can't speak in English, you cannot be a pilot!

New pilots must sit written and practical exams to prove their proficiency in speaking English using the aircraft radio. So for those of you aspiring to control and manoeuvre these giant iron birds through the air, make sure you brush up your linguistic skills in this language!

The bottom line

The English language changes over both time and space. However, in order to maintain the ability to communicate in a common language with people from across the globe, students in primary & secondary schools, as well in other educational institutions in Singapore, must put in the effort to speak and write in Standard English, rather than any local variant of English, regardless of whether it is "Valley-Speak" or Singlish!

#literature,#mindstretcher,#secondaryenglish, #language-arts, #literaturetuition #psleenglish

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