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Language Data and Facts
Language Data and Facts
The dot over the
letter 'i' is called a tittle.
315 entries in
Webster's 1996 Dictionary were
Upper and lower
case letters are named 'upper' and 'lower', because
in the time when all original print had to be set
in individual letters, the 'upper case' letters
were stored in the case on top of the case that
stored the smaller, 'lower case' letters. The
proper term for upper case letters is "majuscule"
and for lower case it's "minuscule".
industry gives us other popular phrases, such as
"mind your 'p's and 'q's." The moveable block type
had the letters in reverse so they would read
correctly when imprinted on paper. Apprentices had
to remove the type from the pages and return the
blocks to their upper and lower cases. Each drawer
in the case held a different size of letters, and
each drawer was divided into compartments (called
sorts) for each letter. The letters 'p' and 'q'
could easily be mistaken, so the master printer
would advise their apprentices to mind their 'p's
There are no
words in the dictionary that rhyme with the words
orange, purple, or silver, or month.
When the master
printer was building a page and discovered that a
particular sort was empty, he would get angry. Thus
the term "out of sorts".
The question mark
came from a monk habit of writing the Latin word
for question, quo, at the end of sentences. Over
time, the letters were written vertically to save
space and morphed into the ? we write today.
Similarly, the exclamation point came from the
Latin word "Lo", meaning something important that
should be heeded. (Lo and behold...)
If you hate our
"QWERTY" keyboard layout, blame Christopher Sholes.
He changed it from the original in 1873 to lessen
the chances of the keys jamming.
Escalator is one
of many words that were originally trademarks but
have become ordinary words found in dictionaries.
Some other words which were originally trademarks
and have now passed into common use are aspirin,
autoharp, band-aids, breathalyzer, cellophane, Coke
(in some areas, at least), corn flakes, cube steak,
ditto, dry ice, dumpster, formica, Frisbee,
granola, gunk, jeep, kerosene, Kleenex, mace,
nylon, ping-pong (also an onomatopoeia), popsicle,
Q-tip, rollerblade, rolodex, Scotch tape,
sheetrock, spandex, styrofoam, tabloid, thermos,
trampoline, yo-yo, xerox, and zipper.
one-syllable word in the English language is
"undreamt" are the only English words that end in
the letters "mt."
Maine is the only
US state whose name is just one
the longest word that is typed with only the left
"Go" is the
shortest complete sentence in the English
The longest word
you can make from the letters on the top row of a
keyboard or typewriter is... typewriter!