Monday, 12 June 2017

Learning English the Fun Way

English is either the official or one of the official languages in 67 countries. Used and refined over a course of more than 1,400 years, the language is continually being enriched with the addition of new words. In the words of Jonathan Culver, “The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it”.

William Shakespeare was the first author to write in early modern English in 1590, when no dictionaries were in existence. He coined in English as many as 1,700 words. Many of them are still in use, examples of which are lonely, frugal, majestic, gloomy, auspicious, sportive, apostrophe, gnarled and dwindle, to recall a few.

Shakespeare created not only words, but also many phrases that we most commonly use today. Some examples: mind’s eye, ministering angel, method in his madness, green eyed monster, clothes make the man, catch a cold and housekeeping.

When you go back on the memory lane, do you recall those summer holidays spent playing English word games and having fun while challenging each other to get those tricky tongue twisters right? Here, we will relive those fun moments and play with the language.

Crazy English words: which ones do you know?

English, the global mode of communication has a fun side too. Let’s explore some of the craziest words in English that have been in use for quite some time. While some parts of the world may employ them in their everyday usage, some others may not even have heard of them.

Here we give you a quick peek into some of the craziest words in English. Find the ones familiar to you.

  • Widdershins: This is something that moves counter clockwise or in the wrong direction. The word is still used in poems and new books.
  • Abibliophobia: Are you a voracious reader and afraid of running out of things to read? You are the one afflicted by this phobia.
  • Bumbershoot: This is another word for an umbrella. You might have come across it in many Disney films.
  • Kakorrhaphiophobia: Irrational fear of failure.
  • Nudiustertian: Day before yesterday.

Play with anagrams

When you shuffle meaningfully the letters of a word or phrase, another new word or expression is born, which we call an anagram. Don’t you think there is an element of childish delight in unraveling an anagram?

Look at some anagrams given below:

Word
Anagram
Lemon
Melon
Parliament
Partial men
Break
Baker
Rebuild
Builder
Fired
Fried
Kitchen
Thicken
Teacher
Hectare
Looped
Poodle

Improving pronunciation: popular tongue twisters

A tongue twister is a phrase or sentence, which is usually difficult to utter fast because it is a sequence of almost similar sounds. It employs mostly alliteration that occurs when a series of words (even a two-word phrase) or adjacent ones have the same consonant sound.

A tongue twister turns out most amusing when you fumble and blunder, trying to repeat it several times in a row as quick as you can, and getting the pronunciation right at the same time.

Companies make use of this alliterative device for a better recall in the buyer’s mind like Coco-Cola, PayPal and Dunkin’ Donuts. Some popular personalities who could stand out in your memory for the alliterative effect in their names are Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, William Wordsworth and Donald Duck, the most popular cartoon character.

Could we ever forget the evergreen tongue twister, ‘She sells seashells by the sea shore,’ which is an alliterative phrase? Although most of the tongue twisters do not make sense, they help to hone speech skills in children, not to forget the fun moments even adults get to have, bringing out the child in them.

Some popular tongue twisters for you:

  1. How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
  2. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
  3. A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose!
  4. Black background, brown background, black background, brown background, black background, brown background.

Poems are not left out too. Sample this funny tongue twister poem:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

American and British Equivalents

If you are a globetrotter and shuttling between America and Britain, make sure to get a grip on the vocabulary used in the two countries. Why is it so? The same word is spelt differently in American and British English. In some instances, entirely different terms mean the same thing. Given below are a few examples.

American English
British English
airplane
aeroplane
counterclockwise
anticlockwise
cookie
biscuit
suspenders
braces
French fries
chips
garbage can
dustbin
billboard
hoarding
corn
maize
math
maths
gas/gasoline
petrol

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