The specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication.

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344 views

Is the origin of the phrase “suck it up” referring to WWII pilots?

I was reading this New Statesman article and was surprised to read this: The origin of the phrase “suck it up” is quite gross. Allegedly, it’s what WWII pilots were instructed to do if they ...
3
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1answer
195 views

Did Francois Valentijn say that Malay language in 16th century was understood by even people living in Persia and beyond?

Utusan Malaysia, a mainstream newspaper publisher in Malaysia, published an article ( in Malay language) that claims that Malay language was a dominant and international language in 16th century. ...
13
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1answer
477 views

Do 22% of Muslim women in the UK speak little or no English?

According to the BBC, the UK government claims: 22% of Muslim women living in England speak little or no English. It also quotes a former Superintendent of the Metro Police as disputing this ...
4
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0answers
121 views

Is a child raised bilingually more likely to have a language delay?

I remember reading that long ago the American Psychological associations were wary of advising a child to be raised bilingually because it can cause a delay in language learning for the child. As I ...
18
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1answer
912 views

Are people who love inspirational quotes less intelligent?

An article in the Daily Beast claims the following: A new study finds that people who love bullshit inspirational quotes have lower intelligence and more "conspiratorial ideations". Life ...
3
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1answer
416 views

Does Burmese lack a word for “vagina”?

From Myanmar: women's fight against verbal taboo symbolises wider rights battle In Myanmar there are no vaginas. Linguistically, at least, that part of the female body does not exist in Burmese – ...
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2answers
1k views

Does Arabic graffiti in “Homeland” criticise the show?

There are multiple reports that the show "Homeland" has Arabic graffiti that amongst other things criticise the show as racist. The news reports cite the graffiti artists commissioned by the show, ...
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0answers
113 views

Was the term “goosebumps” ever used to refer to venereal sores?

This Cracked.com article claims that "goosebumps" used to refer to venereal sores: Well, it's thought that "Goosey" is referencing an old slang term "goose" which was a nice but roundabout way ...
13
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3answers
8k views

Was the word 'racist' coined by Trotsky in 1927?

According to the image below, 'racist is a made up word by Leon Trotsky in 1927'. I searched in Online Etymology Dictionary and found that racist 1932 as a noun, 1938 as an adjective, from race ...
2
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1answer
391 views

Is this how to say Steph Curry in American sign language

This tweet (retweeted over 2300 times) makes a claim about how to say "Steph Curry" in American sign language: Is that claim true?
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1answer
845 views

Are LDS missionaries taught languages to a level of fluency in under three months which takes other schools years?

In How do Mormon missionaries learn foreign languages so quickly? it is claimed that LDS (Mormon) missionaries spend only up to ten weeks in languge learning, and that most are "fluent" within one ...
9
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243 views

Does reading what you listen parallely improve your ability to speak English?

I can write English well, and can also understand it well (provided someone speaks i a known accent.) For improving my spoken English I have got audio books. I can understand what I am being told by ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Is profanity correlated with trustworthiness and honesty?

This image can be found on 9GAG and Facebook: Profanity is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an offensive word" or "offensive language". It is also called bad language, strong language, coarse ...
6
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1answer
237 views

Does bilingualism prevent Alzheimer's?

I have read a few articles that claim that being able to speak second a language has various benefits to the mind, including preventing or delaying Alzheimer's disease, Is this really true?
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2answers
11k views

Is it against the law to mispronounce Arkansas?

There are many sources that claim that it is illegal to pronounce Arkansas incorrectly and you can be fined for doing so. My favorite law is one designed to get Northerners into trouble. That's ...
32
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2answers
3k views

Are Americans more likely to be monolingual?

From a comment on English Language & Usage, also mentioned in Wikipedia, and Chad Fowler's book The Passionate Programmer (Related blog post by the author: How Learning a Second Language Changed ...
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0answers
181 views

Can ultrasound be passed over the skin to be heard by the ear?

The company Skinlearning claims (in German), that one can learn "over the skin" with their uSonic device. Their site says: So können Sie Ihren Lernstoff permanent wiederholen und damit in Ihrem ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Does talking in another language actually change your personality?

So I found a photo on facebook: And while I usually don't believe in these facebook "Facts" I took a second to think about it myself since I'm a person that speaks a few languages (we have 4 national ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Did the head of the Joint National Committee on language claim Jesus spoke English?

In Bill Bryson's book The Mother Tongue, it is claimed, that Dr. David Edwards, head of the Joint National Committee on Languages once said: "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for ...
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1answer
273 views

Did the Kinki Nippon Tourist Company change its name?

From http://www.takingontobacco.org/intro/funny.html, a list of marketing "lost in translation" incidents: Foreign companies have similar problems when they enter English speaking markets. ...
4
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0answers
184 views

How correct are some dramatized documentaries about proto-humans?

There are some documentaries, e.g. by David Attenborough, that dramatize the life of proto-humans (e.g. Neanderthals, etc..) Some of these documentaries show/dramatize the proto-humans communicating ...
9
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1answer
744 views

Does learning Latin first dramatically improve the ability to learn more languages?

I was taught 2 semesters of cold Spanish, but forgot most of it. Does learning Latin first make learning Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, etc. a whole lot faster or easier as some claim. They all ...
4
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1answer
3k views

Did World War II propaganda posters tell people to “Speak American”, rather than languages of the enemy?

Wikimedia commons entry, claiming a citation to "Una Storia Segreta" by Lawrence Distasi. The licensing metadata from the picture claims that it is a "work prepared by an officer or employee of the ...
5
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2answers
502 views

Was French spelling artificially altered for longer words?

There's a widespread belief that says that the reason for French having so many silent letters is that historically the authors were paid by the letter, so they were tempted to write longer words. ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Was the official language of the Union of India selected by a single tie-breaker vote?

This answer in Yahoo Answers claims: Hindi has been declared in the Constitution of India, as the official language of the Union of India. It is also one of the 23 languages recognised under the ...
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1answer
1k views

Does language acquisition become more difficult after a “critical period” linked to age?

The critical period hypothesis (from Wikipedia): The critical period hypothesis is the subject of a long-standing debate in linguistics and language acquisition over the extent to which the ...
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1answer
4k views

Is Polish the hardest language to learn?

I've recently been to Poland and I've heard the claim that Polish is the hardest language to learn. I've found this claim repeated again today, for example on this blog post: The hardest language ...
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1answer
2k views

Is xenoglossy a scientifically verified phenomenon?

It has often been said that people can speak in languages that were not formerly known to them. Arguably the most often recited example of this is in the context of demonic possession. For example ...
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1answer
7k views

Is the “I before E” English spelling rule not very useful?

This is a picture circulating right now, claiming that a huge majority of the words break the "i before e" rule, and that only a few actually follow it. Is the rule as useless as the picture claim? ...
15
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1answer
690 views

Do people tend to have a particular language representational system (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic representational)?

One of the primary claims of neuro-linguistic programming is that people possess a particular language system (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic representational). For example: For example, a ...
19
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1answer
939 views

Is a large percentage of human communication non-verbal?

The claim that 60, or 80, or 90 or 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal is endlessly repeated, not only in pop culture but in the professional worlds of education, business, and in some less ...
59
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3answers
4k views

Can Chinese people read the literature of 2,500 years ago as easily as yesterday's newspapers

Bill Bryson in his book The Mother Tongue: English And How It Got That Way, on page 110, writes: An equally useful advantage of written Chinese is that people can read the literature of 2,500 ...
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1answer
309 views

Can dolphins learn a symbol based language?

I recently stumbled across the following article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1240334/Dolphins-clever-humans--treat-like-people-say-scientists.html which makes the claim that ...
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1answer
1k views

Did Reverend Mezzofanti fluently speak thirty-four languages?

In the John England's book titled "The Works of Reverend John England, Volume 6" (page 172) I read: Reverend Joseph Mezzofanti, first keeper of the Vatican library, of whom Lord Byron had so high ...
15
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2answers
3k views

Did Japanese people misspell “We pray for MacArthur's election”?

The Internet is full of references to the same story: It was probably in 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur was temporarily put in charge of running Japan, which was in tough shape after ...
2
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2answers
509 views

Does knowing Latin help learning English?

I have read that one who knows Latin has a good command over English. Is this correct or just a myth? If it is correct, how does it work?
6
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2answers
597 views

Is “Lord Privy Seal” a technical term in documentary film making?

Richard Dawkins has claimed many times in public speeches, especially in reference to the documentary “Expelled”, that documentary filmmakers use the expression “Lord Privy Seal” in a disparaging ...
10
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0answers
901 views

Was there ever a universal human language or mother-tongue?

In "Is this how Eve spoke? Every human language evolved from 'single prehistoric African mother tongue'" from the UK Daily Mail: Every language in the world - from English to Mandarin - evolved ...
7
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1answer
426 views

Are there banned words in New York standarized tests?

I just came across a random post on a random news blog saying that several words were banned from New York's standardized tests. This included common words, such as Christmas, dinosaurs, birthdays. ...
19
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2answers
1k views

Do number systems in native languages affect math performance?

This blog post said that Asians are good at math because Asian languages have less-confusing number systems: So if it’s not the schools, what accounts for Asians succeeding in math across different ...
18
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1answer
628 views

Are shorter lines easier to read?

People keep claiming that shorter lines are easier to read - especially when discussing user interfaces and fixed width layouts. I recall a stack overflow question years ago where someone essentially ...
41
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4answers
18k views

Are there 20,000 English words in the average adult's vocabulary?

Is there any consensus as to how many words are in the average adult's vocabulary? Over the years, I've come across various factoids and blurbs online and in magazine articles that have made ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Can someone have a “gift for languages”?

In Australia, although it has changed significantly in the past 30 years due to migration, it is quite common for people of Anglo background to only speak one language. I learned my second language ...
17
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1answer
4k views

Is passive listening useless when learning a language?

In an article on the blog Fluent in Three Months is a claim that listening to hours of a foreign language without really concentrating on it is "barely better than nothing". The shocking truth is ...
18
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2answers
9k views

Are there more English speaking people in China than in the USA?

I have heard there are more Chinese who speak English than there are Americans who speak English. Is this true?
9
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1answer
1k views

Is dyslexia unheard of in Spain?

I've been told that dyslexia is unheard of in Spain, and presumably other Spanish-speaking cultures, because Spanish is pronounced as it is spelt. Is this true? Example: Cases of dyslexia and ...
2
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1answer
906 views

Are people more likely to believe eloquent people?

Do a majority (e.g. >50%) of people form positive opinions about an individual's knowledge on the subject matter if the speaker/writer is more eloquent(well versed in grammar, clear and concise)? An ...
8
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1answer
653 views

Is Lojban completely unambiguous?

The description from Wikipedia: Lojban (pronounced [ˈloʒban]) is a constructed, syntactically unambiguous human language based on predicate logic, succeeding the project of Loglan. I understand ...
16
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4answers
2k views

Does using big words make people sound more professional?

I have read in several places that people use big, fancy, complicated, and little known words (such as Brobdingnagian) to give the impression that they are knowledgeable, smart, and professional. Does ...
16
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2answers
4k views

Do babies have their own language?

Is it true that when babies make their little noises, they are understood by surrounding babies? Is there a regular pattern in their actions and noises they make to signify their meaning?