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Some facts about English

· There were only 30,000 words in Old English. Modern English has the largest vocabulary in the world more than 600.000 words.

· There are about 60,000 words in common use.

· About 450-500 words are added to the English vocabulary every year.

· 70 per cent of the English vocabulary are loan words and only 30 per cent of the words are native.

· The most frequently used words in written English are: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, is, I, it, for and as.

· The most frequently used word in conversation is I.

· The longest words in common use are disproportionableness and incomprehensibilities (21 letters)

· The commonest letter is e. More words begin with the letter s than any other.

· The most overworked word in English is the word set it has 126 verbal uses and 58 noun uses.

· The newest letters added to the English alphabet are j and v, which are of post-Shakespearean use.

· The largest English-language dictionary is 20-volume Oxfors English Dictionary, with 21,728 pages.

· The commonest English name is Smith. There are about 800,000 people called Smith in England and Wales, and about 1,700,000 in the USA.

Have you ever wondered how many people there are who speak English? It’s quite a number! The exact figure is impossible to tell, but it is around 400 million people.

Geographically, English is the most widespread language on earth, and it is second only to Chinese in the number of people who speak it. It is spoken in the British Isles, the USA, Australia, New Zeland and much of Canada and South Africa.

English is also a second language of another 300 million people living in more than 60 countries.

If you add to this the enormous number of people who learn to understand and speak English (like youself), you will realize that English is indeed a world language.

In Shakespeare’s time only a few million people spoke English. All of them lived in what is now Great Britain. Through the centuries, as a result of various historical events, English spread throughout the world. Five hundred years ago English was not spoken in North America: the American Indians had their own languages. So did the Eskimos in Canada, the aborigines in Australia, and the Maoris in New Zeland. The English arrived and set up their colonies...

Today, English is represented in every continent and in the three main oceans – the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific.

English is mixing with and marrying other languages around the world. It is probably the most insatiable borrower. Words newly coined or in vogue in one language are very often added to English as well. There are words from 120 languages in its vocabulary, including Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

Other languages absorb English words too, often giving them new forms and new meanings. So many Japanese, French, and German mix English words with their mother tongues that the resulting hybrids are called Japlish, Franglais and Denglish. In Japanese, for example, there is a verb Makudonaru, to eat at McDonald’s.

Switching to other Englishes is a strange thing to do, but sometimes it is necessary. If you want to communicate successfully in Japan, you have to adjust your English, speak slowly and constantly check if your message gets through. Mimicking Japlish is probably a stupid thing to do, but you have to come near to that if you want to achieve anything.


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