When John F. Kennedy met Joseph Luns, the former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kennedy asked for his hobbies and he answered: “I fok horses”, Kennedy, struck with surprise responded: “Pardon?”, Luns replied: “Yes, paarden!”. ‘Fokken’ means ‘to breed’, and ‘horses’ means ‘paarden’ in Dutch.
Many words used to be spelled phonetically (e.g. debt was ‘det’) until some scholars purposely added silent letters to make them look more like Greek or Latin words, sometimes erroneously.
Understanding English actually hurts professional players of English scrabble; some of the world’s best Scrabble players are Thai and can’t speak English.
“American” was the official language of Illinois from 1923 to 1969.
J.R.R. Tolkien created the words “dwarvish” and “dwarves”, countering the spelling at the time of the books publication which was “dwarfish” and “dwarfs”, and many dictionaries now consider this the proper way to spell the words.
In English, the name of every number shares a letter with each neighbor. One shares an O with two, which shares a T with three, which shares an R with four, which shares an F with five, which shares an I with six — and so on indefinitely.
In 1993 a Scotsman was asked to confirm to the court that he was the person summoned. He replied “aye”, but was then told he had to answer yes or no. He replied “aye” again and was imprisoned for 90 minutes for contempt of court. On his release he said “I genuinely thought I was answering him”.
In English, “thou” is actually the singular informal second-person pronoun, like “tú” is Spanish and “tu” in French. “You” is technically a plural formal pronoun, closer to the Spanish “ustedes” or the French “vous.”
The Romanian language has no word for “shallow.” To describe something as shallow, people speaking Romanian usually use the word “small” (“small water” means “shallow water,” for example) or simply “not deep.”
The Welsh language is spoken in the Chubut Province, Argentina.