Page 6 - Language Facts

A group of owls is called a parliament. Do you know what a group of crows is called?

You may know the names of many animals, but what about their group names (collective nouns)? You probably know some of the more common group names such as a pride of lions, pack of wolves and a school of fish. There are some rather interesting ones that you probably haven’t heard of out there, though.

A group of crows, for example, is called a murder. Some other interesting ones include an army of caterpillars, a mob of emus, a tower of giraffes, a smack of jellyfish and an unkindness of ravens.

What about a group of humans? Well, there isn’t one single collective noun for humans. Depending on who you ask, there can be a lot of different terms actually. Some common ones are a crowd, population, society, tribe and community. It’s possible that there just isn’t a collective noun for humans. What do you think?


The only infixes in the English language are obscenities!

An infix is an affix inserted inside a word stem (an existing word). It contrasts with adfix, a rare term for an affix attached to the end of a stem, such as a prefix or suffix.

Also, the word Infix means to fix in the mind or to instil. An example of a sentence with the word infix is: Infix a picture into the text. Synonyms to the word Infix include insert, introduce, and enter.

An infix is a word element which can be placed within the base form of a word. This is to come up with a new word or an exaggerate meaning. English has almost no factual infixes.

The only infixes in the English language are obscenities like fuckin', as in "Un-fuckin'-believable". Other languages, such as Spanish, do have a lot of infixes.


In the English language the orange fruit existed long before the color was named after it. What was the color 'orange' called before that?

The earliest use of the word ‘orange’ in the English language refers to the fruit and not the color. Before the English speaking people were introduced to the fruit, the color now known as orange was referred to as ‘yellow-red’ (geoluread in Old English) or ‘red-yellow’, depending on the hue.

Orange as a word originates from a Dravidian language and was then borrowed and adapted by many languages like Sanskrit and Old French before it reached the English language. The earliest recorded use of the word in English dates from the 13th century. The color was then named after the fruit and the first recorded use of orange in that context was only in the 16th century.

Over the ages it has always been a bit of a standing challenge to find a single English word that rhymes with the word orange. It is accepted that there is, in fact, no true rhyme for orange. There are, however, a couple of words that are half rhymes like hinge, lozenge, syringe, flange, Stonehenge, or porridge.

As rhyme is not only based on how a word looks, but also on how it sounds when spoken, sporange (a variant of sporangium) has often been mistaken for a rhyme candidate, but the stress falls on the second syllable, not the first. There is just no word that rhymes with orange!


Some awesome lists!

The term "show your colors" comes from sailing—and from pirates and war! Hear the whole story

When someone says they see your true colors, they mean they finally see the real you. But what are these colors we’re showing? How did that term come to be? Well, you have to go back many centuries to get the answer, but it’s there.

Back when traveling by boat was the main way to travel long distances, ships would fly flags with certain colors and designs that symbolized your intentions or what you were doing. There were flags for if you were arriving or leaving a port, for example.

Of course, this was often exploited. Pirates especially loved showing the wrong flag to get close to unsuspecting ships and only show their “true colors” when they were close enough to attack the ship.

Pirates weren’t the only ones to use false colors, though. In a battle one side might show up with the wrong colors to confuse their enemy and gain an element of surprise. They would only change to their real colors when it was too late for the enemy to react.

The term still means generally the same thing all these years later. It’s certainly interesting to see how terms get their origins and then keep their meaning when the origin is irrelevant.


The Basque language, local to parts of Spain and France, is unlike any other language. How is this possible?

Some twins are so close that they share their own private language. What if that was the case for an entire region of the world, and no neighboring country spoke anything remotely similar? This is not the stuff of science fiction; it’s real, and it’s geographically located in a region of northeastern Spain and southwestern France. Since the language of Basque bears no similarity to Indo-European Romance languages spoken in the surrounding regions, it’s considered an isolated language.

So how does an isolated language originate? It’s a bit of a puzzle to linguists. Many believe that this language pre-dates the European conquests which is why it bears no European influences. Some have noted that the words for "knife" (aizto), "axe" (aizkora) and "hoe" (aitzur) are all derived from the word for "stone" (haitz), and have therefore concluded that the language dates to the Stone Age, when those tools were made of stone. Basque-type skulls discovered in Neolithic archaeological sites support this theory.

Although rich in oral history, the Basque language was not written until the 16th century. Rural communities have kept it alive. In fact, there are some 520,000 Basque speaking people in Spain which is a quarter of their entire population.



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