Finding America

Me and Tarah

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As the world's third (second, by some estimates) most spoken language, it is perhaps appropriate that there should be so many jokes about English. After all, it is more honorable to pick on one of the big dogs, right? Here are 10 jokes about the wonderful English language - a language that both my British and American readers reluctantly share.

1. What is the longest word in the English language? 
'Smiles'.  Because there is a mile between its first and last letters.

2. What begins with T, ends with T and has T in it?
A teapot.

3. What do you say when you are comforting a grammar nazi? 
There, Their, They're

4. What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

5. When does a dialect become a language? 
When its speakers get an army and a navy.

6. Don't you know the Queen's English?
Why, yes, I'd heard she was.

7. Let's eat Grandma! 
Let's eat, Grandma! 
Punctuation saves lives!

8. What’s another name for Santa’s elves?
Subordinate clauses!

9. Why did the comma break up with the apostrophe?
Because it was too possessive.

10. What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?
A cat has claws at the ends of its paws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause.

Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and writes a weekly column for Anglotopia. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

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  1. I really do not understand if this is meant to be funny or not. I for one found it exceedingly lame and pointless. Also, English is most certainly the worlds 2nd most spoken language next to Mandarin.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Anonymous.

    Indeed, yes, this article was intended to be funny. Not - you understand - laugh-out-loud funny. Just funny enough to give my linguistically-minded readers (of whom there are a few) a slight chuckle. Nothing more than that. Does that make sense, Anonymous?

    "Also, English is most certainly the worlds 2nd most spoken language next to Mandarin."

    Anonymous, there are two leading measurements of language frequency: 1) Total number of speakers (including, in this case, those for whom English is a second language) and 2) Total number of native speakers (just those, in this case, for whom English is their first language).

    In the first case, Anonymous, you're correct: English is second only to Mandarin. In the second case, there are more native Spanish speakers than there are native English speakers. So by the native speaker measurement, English is the third most spoken.

    Thanks, Anonymous.

    Laurence Brown
    Editor: Lost In The Pond
    Contributor: BBC America
    Contributor: Anglotopia
    Contributor: Smitten By Britain

  3. Thank you for your jokes! Teaching English as a foreign language I really appreciated them and so will my students :-)

  4. It was not uncommon to find such people runningschools in their mother tongue. As time went by and the country started blending, such people had to bring in English for instruction in school

    FAQ about TOEFL iBT

  5. Some are hilarious! I'll definitely use them in my classes. Thanks, Laurence!


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