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Questions tagged [language]

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

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9
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1answer
472 views

Are North American children adopting British accents because of Peppa Pig?

Several news items have surfaced today which report that North American children are adopting British accents at a very young age due to watching Peppa Pig episodes. The only source quoted is Romper ...
8
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1answer
627 views

Is the use of X for unknown quantities taken from the Arabic word “shay”?

In this TED Talk, the speaker says that the use of X for unknown quantities was the result of Spanish people taking the Arabic word shay (meaning "thing"), which was used by Arabs to denote unknown ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Does requesting a bilingual trial often result in dismissal?

Life hack sites like to claim that requesting a bilingual trial will cause minor cases to be dismissed. I have seen this on multiple sites, but it seems they have a tendency to shut down after a year ...
3
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0answers
234 views

Did Wario say a swear? [closed]

Ok, this would have been in like 2004-5 or so. I had some disk for gamecube with a set of bonus features including trailers, and there was one for WarioWorld, and I remember clearly hearing him say "...
5
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1answer
784 views

In ritualistic use, did “virgin blood” originally mean “unused blood”?

I recently saw the following tumblr meme on Facebook: This strikes me more as a fanciful reinterpretation than an actual etymology (a la the more recent interpretation of "blood is thicker than water"...
-3
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1answer
686 views

Has Richard Dawkins never learnt a language other than English? [closed]

From a tweet quoted by The Independent in Richard Dawkins accused of Islamophobia after comparing 'lovely church bells' to 'aggressive-sounding Allahu Akhbar' As a Christian from a mixed Christian-...
3
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0answers
328 views

Can Rambo, the German shepherd, follow written commands?

An article on The Laughing Squid shows a German shepherd seemingly following written commands. An impressively intelligent German shepherd named Rambo, who’s learning how to read with the help of ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Can people “wake up” with a new accent? (Foreign Accent Syndrome)

This MSN article from 2018-02-13 claims that an American woman fell asleep with a bad headache, and woke up with a British accent. This has been widely reported, including by The Washington Post ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Was this Harry-Potter themed text written solely by a computer program?

A YouTube video caught my eye with the title, "A Robot Wrote A Chapter To A Harry Potter Book, And It's Absolutely Insane." The video claims that a software algorithm created by Botnik Studios was ...
134
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2answers
27k views

Do the Finnish have a word for getting drunk alone in your underwear?

Urban dictionary (and many other articles on the internet) claim that the Finnish word "kalsarikännit" means: to drink by yourself at your house in your underwear with no intention of going out I ...
7
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1answer
490 views

Does drinking alcohol improve foreign language skills?

An article in UK online newspaper The Independent has the following headline: Alcohol can help foreign language skills The article reports: Dr Inge Kersbergen, from the University of Liverpool'...
11
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2answers
1k views

Is Arabic the 4th most common language used on internet?

The Wikipedia page, Languages user on the Internet provides two different ways of ranking the most popular languages on the Internet. By content: Estimated percentages of the top 10 million ...
2
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0answers
247 views

Does the F-word constitute a third of all swearing on the internet?

This youtube video (created as part of a series of short programmes for the UK's Channel Four television called Susie Dent's guide to Swearing) claims (around 3:08 in) that the word "fuck" makes up ...
20
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1answer
2k views

Did Native Americans call European people “pale-face”?

In lots of American Indian novels you can read that the native peoples of North America called European people "pale-face" or "pale-faced": “Young Randolph! war-chief among the pale-faces! You ...
2
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1answer
444 views

Do eskimos have large numbers of words for snow?

The oscar-winning movie Arrival has prompted some new interest the the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that language constrains or enables certain abstract concepts. The idea that an alien language can rewire ...
3
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2answers
3k views

Is Melania Trump barely able to speak English?

Chelsea Handler has claimed that Melania Trump can barely speak English. From The Sun Handler, 41, was asked in a filmed interview if she would have Mrs Trump on her Netflix show Chelsea. "...
22
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1answer
921 views

Can speakers of Kuuk Thaayorre navigate much better than Western speakers inside unfamiliar buildings?

Lera Boroditsky writes in the Edge article How does our language shape the way we think?: Simply put, speakers of languages like Kuuk Thaayorre are much better than English speakers at staying ...
7
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1answer
761 views

Is Coober Pedy derived from an Aboriginal phrase for “White man in a hole”?

Coober Pedy is an opal mining town in the middle of nowhere in Australia. It's very hot, and lots of people live underground. I've frequently heard that it means "White man in a hole" in a local ...
7
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0answers
366 views

Is the Greek/French macaronic phrase written by an ancient author?

From Wikipedia article: Occasionally language is unintentionally macaronic. One particularly famed piece of schoolyard Greek in France is Xenophon's line "they did not take the city; but in fact ...
2
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4answers
1k views

Do Rohingyas speak in a Bengali dialect?

This page says they do. Rohingyas are not Burmese. They called themselves as Rohingya. There are no such people in Burmese history and census. Rohingyas are in fact Bengali who speaks ...
28
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1answer
2k views

Did Germans receive corn instead of wheat and rye after WW2 due to a translation error?

After World War II, the U.S. army sent food supplies to Germany. There is a widespread legend that they delivered maize instead of wheat and rye because the Germans demanded "Korn" which means grain ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Do the English eat “pork” instead of “pig” because they were servants of the French?

Many online sources make the claim that the strange quirk in the English language of having French-derived terms (pork, beef, veal, mutton) for the meat of the animal, and having German-derived terms (...
17
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1answer
1k 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 vomited ...
4
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1answer
418 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. ...
15
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1answer
1k 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
240 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
1k 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 ...
19
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1answer
20k views

Was the phrase “hello” popularized because of the name of Alexander Graham Bell's wife/girlfriend “Margaret Hello”?

This is a popular explanation of the etymology of the word hello, seen in many email forwards: When you lift the phone, you say "Hello". Do you know what is the real meaning of "Hello" It is ...
5
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1answer
1k 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 – a ...
23
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2answers
2k 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, ...
7
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1answer
389 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 of ...
18
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4answers
25k 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 the Online Etymology Dictionary and found that racist (n.) 1932 [as a noun], 1938 as an ...
3
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1answer
543 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?
39
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1answer
1k 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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0answers
327 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 ...
24
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1answer
2k 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 language, ...
7
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1answer
280 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?
39
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2answers
31k 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 ...
36
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2answers
5k 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 ...
5
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0answers
202 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 ...
9
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1answer
2k 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 ...
12
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2answers
3k 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 ...
2
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1answer
551 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. Japan'...
4
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0answers
225 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 ...
10
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1answer
1k 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 ...
10
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2answers
10k 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 ...
6
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2answers
3k 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. ...
15
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1answer
4k 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 ...
11
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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 ...
17
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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 ...