Polish and polish: curiosities of English

All languages have their own oddities and eccentricities. Here are just a few to admire which are found in English.

  • Polish: The only word in the English language that changes its pronunciation when capitalised. “My Polish relatives gave me some furniture but I have to polish it every week.” (The ‘o’ in ‘ Polish’ is pronounced /ou/. In ‘polish’ it is pronounced /ɔ/ (‘o’ aberto))
  • Month, Silver, Purple, Orange: There are no words in English to rhyme perfectly with these four. (not yet!)
  • Dreamt: The only word in English ending with an “mt”. (dreamt is the irregular form of the verb to dream which has also a regular past form: dreamed)
  • Subcontinental: The only word with all the vowels in reverse order.
  • 45 Letters: The world’s longest-named lake has 45 letters – Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. (I wonder if people refer to this lake as ‘Cha’, just to make things easier.)
  • Two Us Together: Only four words in English – muumuu, residuum, vacuum and continuum. (no, muumuu is not to emit the sound made by a cow – this sound is “moo”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary muumuu is “a loose, often long dress having bright colours and patterns and adapted from the dresses originally distributed by missionaries to the native women of Hawaii.” Of course!)
  • Two-syllable words which become one-syllable words when you add a letter(s): Ague/Plague, Ague/Vague, Rugged/Shrugged, Boa/Boat, Ragged/Dragged, Naked/Snaked, Sour/Source. (Whoever said ‘less is more’ was right!)
  • Ewe and You: Sound exactly the same but have no letters in common. Other examples are Eye/I, Oh/Eau. (Eau is a French word, but widely used in English)
  • IYouThe and A are the most commonly spoken English words. (I thought ‘love’ was in this list. Just kidding!)
  • Interchangeability: Contains these numbers – Three, Eight, Nine, Ten, Thirteen, Thirty, Thirty-Nine, Eighty, Eighty-Nine, Ninety and Ninety-Eight. (I wonder what the person who found this out was doing at the moment of this discovery.)
  • Intestines: each of its letters occurs twice. (if you forget that, you just have to remember that we have two intestines and the letters occur twice. Hum…never mind!)
  • Monday: the only day of the week having an anagram – dynamo. You’ve made an anagram if you can take a name or a word and jumble the letters to form another word or phrase. A nag’s arm is an anagram for anagrams!)
  • Strengths: is the longest word in English with only one vowel
    and
    Smiles: is the longest word in English language. (There is a mile between the first and last letter! I caught you now! lol)

Sources consulted

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Erica De Monaco Lowry

Erica De Monaco Lowry has been living in Ireland since 2008. She is a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, a tour guide and an insatiable learner. Her favorite pastimes include reading, travelling, socialising and catching up with her family.

14 comentários

  • 11/12/12  
    felipeh6 diz: 1

    Hi Erica!

    Congrats for this post. Simply amazing! This is the kind of post that we read with pleasure, because it includes information and it is mixed with interesting things to know and learn. Sometimes, they are even funny!

    In my opinion, this post is between the best posts here at English Experts!

    Best Regards!

    • 11/12/12  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      Thanks, Felipe! It’s a pleasure to write for appreciative readers like you. :-)

  • 11/12/12  
    Paulo diz: 2

    Um dos melhores artigos de todos os tempos do English Experts. Por favor repitam a dose, “whenever possible”…eheh

    • 11/12/12  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      Thank you, Paulo! Will be on the lookout for more posts like this. :-)

  • 11/12/12  
    João B. L. Ghizoni diz: 3

    What a nice compilation, Erica! Congrats! And thanks for sharing so many curiosities!

    A word I find strange in English is rhythm, a six-letter word with no vowels.

    • 11/12/12  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      That’s a great word to mention as another curiosity Joao. Tks! :-)

  • 11/12/12  
    Mário diz: 4

    Obrigado Erica pelo excelente artigo. Consegue instruir e divertir ao mesmo tempo com extrema facilidade. Fica o pedido para novos artigos na mesma linha desse.

    • 11/12/12  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      Obrigada Mario. Sugestao anotada. :-)

  • 11/12/12  
    Eric Cruz diz: 5

    I have enjoyed about the sMILEs. Great!

  • 11/12/12  
    Murilo diz: 6

    gostei da do “Smiles” hahahaha

  • 19/12/12  
    joy diz: 7

    wow. i love things like this. certainly enjoyed reading this, thanks for posting! :)

    • 20/12/12  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      Thank you Joy!

  • 02/01/13  
    Ana diz: 8

    I didn’t understand the “Interchangeability”. Am I the only one? Please can somebody explain??

    Very nice post!

    • 12/01/13  
      Erica Lowry diz:

      Hi, Ana. You can form all those words – Three, Eight, Nine, Ten, Thirteen, Thirty, Thirty-Nine, Eighty, Eighty-Nine, Ninety and Ninety-Eight – that happen to be numbers, using all the letters in the word ‘interchangeability’. :-)