Did you know?  

rm_homophone 63M
6 posts
5/31/2006 2:05 pm
Did you know?

Did you know?

Before the year 1000, the word "she" did not exist in the English language. The singular female reference was the word "heo", which also was the plural of all genders. The word "she" appeared only in the 12th century, about 400 years after English began to take form. "She" probably derived from the Old English feminine "seo", the Viking word for feminine reference.


The word encyclopaedia comes from two Greek words meaning "a circle of learning." The oldest known encyclopaedia was written in Greece about 2,000 years ago. It's no longer in existence.

The oldest encyclopaedia in existence was written in the 1st century by Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. His encyclopaedia, called Natural History has 37 volumes. The largest ever encyclopaedia is the 17th century Yung Lo Ta Tien encyclopaedia. Written by 2,000 writers, it was bound in 11,100 volumes.

The first volume of Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in 1771, a year after Beethoven was born and 5 years before America declared independence.


The novel has always had the reputation of being light entertainment, almost bordering on the frivolous. Part of the blame for this reputation can be placed on the word novel itself. The word originally derived from the Latin novus, meaning "new."

It came to English by way of the Italian word for short story, novella. A novella was a short work of prose fiction that told a new, original story, in contrast to retelling a traditional one.

The story in a novella was meant to be a novelty, a new delight for readers. The readers responded, and today there numerous kinds of novels: romance, spy, Westerns, mystery, detective, gothic fiction, science fiction, historical novels, novels of place, the psychological novel, epistolary novels (in which the story is told through an exchange of letters), the roman à clef (which requires a "key," or supplementary information), the cult novel, the proletarian novel, and the modern antinovel.

The world's first novel was written by a woman

In the year 1007 a Japanese noble woman, Murasaki Shikibu, wrote the world's first full novel. Called "The story of Genji," it tells the story of a prince looking for love and wisdom.

By the Middle Ages there were many novels about kings and heroic knights but in the late 1500s the anti-romance movement took roots and villains became the main characters.

The first such novel was "Life of Lazarillo de Tormes", written in 1554 by an unknown author. It is the story of a poor boy who makes his way in the world by tricking his employers.

The antinovel was invented by the French. Antinovel writers insist that traditional novels sketch a false appearance of the world in much the same way as television soap operas do - or as Murasaki Shikibu did. Instead of creating fantasy plots and characters, antinovelists emphasize the minute details of life and the world.

The author who wrote the most novels ever also is a women. Barbara Cartland wrote 723 novels, which sold more than 1 billion copies in 36 languages, making her the best-selling novelist of all time.

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, but Britain publishes the most titles in total about 100,000 per year. Per person, the Norwegians spend more than any other nation on books. About 60,000 book titles are published annually in the US. Amazon.com is the world's biggest book store, holding some 2,5 million titles.

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