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Weird facts you didn't know about the French language

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Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Photo: WikiCommons
11:08 CET+01:00
It's French language week: Why not impress your French friends with some unusual facts about their own language?
The longest word in the dictionary is anticonstitutionnellement at 25 letters. 
 
The longest French word of all is the full chemical name for thiamine which has 49 letters. Click here if you want to see it in its entirety, we don't dare risk spelling it incorrectly (and don't have the space). 
 
The shortest French word with all the vowels is oiseau (bird).
 
How to say 'OUCH' in French (and ten other sounds)
OUCH! Photo: Richard Gillin/Flickr
 
Meanwhile oiseaux (birds) is the longest word where you don't pronounce any of the letters individually. 
 
There are more words that have just one letter than there are letters in the alphabet.
 
Explainer: While you've heard of words like y and a, there are also accented words like à. But the French also count single letters as words like j' (as in j'aime) and c' (as in c'est). This would be the equivalent of counting 't as a word in English (as in the word don't) - and some English dictionaries actually do this
 
There's only one French word with the letter ù, and that's (where). Yet the letter still gets its own key on the French keyboard. (Read also: What annoys expats the most about the French 'Azerty' keyboard)
 
What annoys expats the most about the French keyboard
 
The word "simple" doesn't rhyme with any other French word. Neither does "quatorze", "quinze" or "monstre". 
 
French is the only language (besides English) that's spoken on all the continents. (Much of west Africa is French speaking, Canada in North America, French Guiana in south America, Vanuatu in Oceania.) 
 
The longest name of a French town is Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson in the Marne département, north eastern France.
There are several words that have three e's in a row, like créée and agréée which mean "created" and "approved", respectively. 
 
Oeil (eye) is the only word that starts with a different letter when in plural yeux (eyes).
 
The word "amour" is very peculiar as it's masculine in the singular ("amour fou") and feminine in the plural ("belles amours"), as one of our readers pointed out. 
 
The most common letter in French is e, recurring at a frequency of 14.7 percent. It's followed by s at 7.9 percent and a at 7.6 percent. In comparison, in English the top three are e at 12.7 percent, t at 9.1 percent, and a at 8.2 percent. 
 
The least common letter is the ï (known as a trema) at 0.005 percent. (It's in words like naïve, aïoli, maïs).
 
And lastly, the shortest town name is Y in Somme, northern France.
 
Photo: WikiCommons
 
 
Another version of this story was published in August 2016. 
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