Learning English can sometimes be exhausting and difficult because it is not your native language. Learning sometimes becomes easier when you focus on humor. But is it actually funny to learn English? In other words, does English possess many funny words? Let's take a closer look at the funny side of this world language.
A language is alive and constantly changing. For example, the influence of English on the Dutch language has increased enormously in recent times. It is funny to see how we have started to 'Dutchify' English words with the greatest of ease. Nowadays everyone talks about logging in and out, checking in and out, downloading, deleting, browsing, kicking off, timing, babysitting, funshopping or working out.
It's also funny that a few centuries back we did this mostly with French words and that English has actually borrowed many words from Latin in the past. This happened in the period when the Romans were in the British Isles. Language (language) comes from Lingua, for example. School from schola, antigue (ancient or old) from antigua, fame from fama and the verb to have from habere.
Researching the funniest words
How funny and humorous are English words really? At the University of Warwick, they did research on it. They had a representative group of 800 people rate a long list of words. The study found that the word "booty" was considered the most funny. Although this word officially means booty or a prize, it is mainly used in American English to refer to someone's behind.
Other funny words on the list focus on persons, such as nitwit and booby. Both indicate a stupid or foolish person. A nincompoop is also not too smart. An egghead, on the other hand, is used for someone who is highly educated.
Strange sounding words
Strange-sounding words whose meaning is not immediately obvious are usually funny, too. For example, how about bumbershoot instead of umbrella? You better not be called a lollygag either, because that makes you a nothing. A meldrop on your nose is no fun either. Some mucus, or snot, drips out of your nostrils. Do you suffer from collywobbles? Then you have pain in your abdomen or stomach.
Blubber and Earth Apple
Did you know that the English word blubber is used to refer to a layer of fat on your belly? Now we ourselves use the term blubber belly. But many other Dutch words are not known in English. They become very funny when you start translating them literally.
A mother-in-law is then suddenly a clean mother instead of a mother-in-law and a glove a hand shoe. While the English word really is glove. Also an earth apple (potato) is not the best description of a potato. And if you are taking a breath of fresh air by the sea, you are wrong if you call it 'blow out'. This means blowing out. And there are many more words like this to be found!
Speaking English is different from giving your own language an English sound or translating words literally. Still, Dutch has not gone completely unnoticed either and you can speak a fair bit of dutchlish in English.
After all, a cookie comes from koekie, candy from candy and brandy from brandy. Dollar is from daalder, Santa Claus from Sinterklaas, polder from polder, sleigh from sleigh, skipper from schipper, yacht from yacht and Yankee from Jan-Kees. That Dutch vocabulary will come in handy when you start learning English!