Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Some Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts and some challenges to a few of them.

10% of the world's population speak English as their mother tongue (Chinese 21%, Spanish 6%, Russian 6%, Malay 4%, Hindi 4%, Japanese 3%, Arabic 3%, Portuguese 3%, French 2%, German 2%)


The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

I had read in a few places that the verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate. Really? Well, what about What about the word "clip"? To fasten with or as if with a clip; hold tightly but also to cut, cut off, or cut out. It also seems that "patronize" is the same as clip and cleave since if you patronize someone, you are either supporting him or berating him. Also "to sanction" means "to allow" and "to prohibit".

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt". Really? What about unkempt? Or "attempt", "preempt", "contempt" and "exempt"? Oh! They end in "mpt" not "mt"! Did you fall into the trap?


The alarm clock was not invented by the Marquis de Sade, as some suspect, but rather by a man named Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, in 1787. Perversity, though, characterized his invention from the beginning. The alarm on his clock could ring only at 4 am. Rumor has it that Hutchins was murdered by his wife at 4:05 am on a very dark and deeply cold New England morning.


A variation of fun facts in the English Language are the many place names in the UK with funny names.

On the border with Essex and Hertfordshire in England is a village called Ugley.

Practically every village or small town in the UK has a branch of an organisation called the Women's Institute. It's where the local ladies meet socially, invite speakers to talk about any subject under the sun, have competitions, make jam, make cakes, have weekly sales of all produce - locally grown fruit, vegetables, home made cakes and all sorts of goodies or whatever..whatever...

Each village Institute is called the (*name of village*) Women's Institute.

The village of Ugley has a branch of the Women's Institute.

It's the Ugley Women's Institute and is one of the most well known in the country for some reason.


Some other great names - Frisby On The Wreake, Nether Poppleton. Great Snoring is my personal favorite! It is right next to Little Snoring.


  1. Regarding "ough", Dr. Suess wrote an hilarious (I hate it that you're expected to use "an" before a word starting with "h"; it just sounds unnatural in speech) story about that tricky combination long before he became a children's book author. That story and other of his early works were collected into a book called "The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough". Here's the URL for the page at Amazon, if you're interested:

  2. Those are some funny places. Yes, i admit to falling into your mt trap, lol! I always believe everything a little too fast; guess i'm a salesmans dream!
    But i actually googled dreamt because i didn't think it was legit. Well, i never use it; it sounds so wrong, i'll always say i dreamed.

    ~~~i dreamed a dream of days gone by la la la la la la lala~~~~~~~