TAKE A BREAK Oct 27: English, they say, is a 'crazy' language. Not only this most spoken and written language in the world refuses to follow a logical pattern in its pronunciation and spelling, it also has the tendency to plagiarise tens of thousands of words from different languages to fatten the English dictionary.
And that makes learning English a lot more fun. Here are the top ten unusually long and interesting words as compiled recently by online dictionary Merriam-Webster. Can you relate some of them to our local politicians?
1. Machiavellianism: the view that politics is amoral and that any means, however unscrupulous, can justifiably be used in achieving political power
In 1513, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote Il Principe ("The Prince") to advise and impress the new Florentine ruler, Prince Lorenzo de' Medici. The book's instructions on obtaining and wielding power – e.g., "It is better to be feared than loved" – suggest the cynicism that gave its author a place in the language.
2. Hypervitaminosis: an abnormal state resulting from excessive intake of one or more vitamins
The word vitamin (in part from Latin vita, meaning "life") dates back only to 1912. The study of vitamins was still in its infancy when the word hypervitaminosis emerged in 1928. (Hyper means "excessive.").
Two vitamins commonly implicated in hypervitaminosis are A and D, both of which are stored in the body, rather than excreted.
3. Gedankenexperiment: an experiment carried out in thought only
Gedanken means "thoughts" in German. The term was popularized by Albert Einstein, who applied gedankenexperiment to his work conceptualizing the theory of relativity.