The English language is notorious for borrowing words from other languages. And sometimes it borrows them more than once.
Steganographia is a late 15th / early 16th century German book of magic… but it’s not actually about magic.
Around 1730 a German secret society recorded their initiation rituals in an encrypted manuscript. In 2011, that cipher was finally decoded.
Donald Duck’s distinctive speaking style is a type of alaryngeal speech – it is made without using your voice box.
Naff, butch, camp, and zhoosh are slang terms that came out of Polari, an argot from early 20th century English gay subculture.
Was the word “orange” first applied to the colour or the fruit? Was “Turkey” first a bird or a country? Was “duck” first an action or an animal? “Organ” the instrument or “organ” the body part?
Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, occurs sometimes in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian gatherings. It is supposed to be the language of God – but what does it say?
What do the River Avon, the Gobi Desert, and the La Brea Tar Pits have in common? Redundancy.
Most crosswords have a single correct solution. A quantum crossword has several.
Christian Bök’s 2001 anthology Eunoia contains five chapters that each use just one of the five vowels.
The Doubting Antiquity School were sceptics of ancient Chinese texts’ historical veracity… until the oracle bones were deciphered.
Burmese people do not have surnames.
Why do monolingual Japanese speakers have difficulty distinguishing “l” and “r” sounds? And why do monolingual English speakers have difficulty distinguishing “t” and “th” sounds? [2 of 2]
In English, what we think of as the letter “t” is actually a collection of many different sounds – but most of the time we do not notice the difference. [1 of 2]
Ubykh, an extinct language spoken on the shores of the Black Sea, has more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other language.
The 2001 novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn depicts a town in which a totalitarian government begins banning letters – from the town and from the novel itself.