131 votes
Accepted

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

Yes, it actually is a Finnish word used by the Finnish people. ThisisFinland is a site for the promotion of Finland: It is associated with the Finnish Government. Produced by the Ministry for Foreign ...
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  • 3,854
65 votes
Accepted

Is it against the law to mispronounce Arkansas?

The name, Arkansas, is a French pronunciation of a Siouxan word meaning "land of downriver people". It is pronounced: /ˈɑrkənsɔː/ ar-kən-saw In 1881, the Arkansas General Assembly passed ...
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  • 665
54 votes
Accepted

Did Parker Pens release an advertisement in Spanish that accidentally implied their pens would prevent pregnancy?

The earliest source of this story is Blunders in International Business by David A. Ricks (first edition 1974). He basically repeats the story you heard. The book has few footnotes, but this story ...
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  • 40.4k
52 votes

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

It's a real word (a compound word fromed from kalsari(t) (underwear) and känni (drunkenness), both rather colloquial versions of these words) and can be found in the online dictionary of the Institute ...
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  • 561
47 votes
Accepted

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

No. Thomas Edison is in fact credited with the first use of the word Hello on the telephone, and the etymology of the word is well documented. Furthermore, Graham Bell was engaged to Mabel Gardiner ...
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  • 1,354
38 votes
Accepted

Is profanity correlated with trustworthiness and honesty?

Doesn't look like it. The most likely source of the quote is The Science of Swearing by Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz or possibly Dr. Neel Burton's Hell Yes: The 7 Best Reasons for Swearing or ...
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  • 5,926
30 votes

Are Americans more likely to be monolingual?

SUMMARISED ANSWER To be able to answer the question, a baseline measurement needs to be established. What does it mean to be multilingual/monolingual? How do you measure populations? Where does the ...
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  • 554
29 votes
Accepted

Is Melania Trump barely able to speak English?

Melania Trump can speak English perfectly well, well enough for the American news media. Here are examples of interviews with her with and without Donald. In all of them she speaks English without ...
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  • 28.8k
28 votes
Accepted

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

Bill Bryson did not make this claim. In Chapter 12 of his book he writes: As one congressman quite seriously told Dr. David Edwards, head of the Joint National Committee on Languages, "If English ...
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  • 133k
26 votes
Accepted

Did Native Americans call European people "pale-face"?

According to the US government publication 14th Annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology (1896): It is very doubtful if the "pale face" of romance ever existed in the Indian mind Instead, the ...
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  • 99.2k
22 votes
Accepted

Are Americans more likely to be monolingual?

At least in the case of Europe and the U.S., statistics do exist that directly answer this question. Those statistics simply aren't the ones from the censuses. In 2013, a Gallop poll found that 34% ...
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  • 4,099
22 votes

In American Sign Language, does 2022 loosely translate to "bird go peace-peace"?

Not precisely, but there is a resemblance if you stretch a bit. When signed 20, 22 - similar to the way many say it it appears thus: Signasl.org fair usage 2022. ^^ With the finger tapping the thumb ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Does Arabic graffiti in "Homeland" criticise the show?

According to Google Translate, "Homeland is Racist" will translate to "الوطن عنصري", which you can compare to the graffiti: From this article These do look very similar. In fact, the only ...
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  • 3,824
20 votes
Accepted

Was "their" a singular pronoun in English before the 16th century?

Yes, from the OED blog: The Oxford English Dictionary traces singular they back to 1375, where it appears in the medieval romance William and the Werewolf. Except for the old-style language of that ...
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  • 23.3k
19 votes
Accepted

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

No. As explained in the 1970 book Politics in India, page 146, endnote 11: A myth has gained currency that Hindi became the official language of the Indian Union by a majority of only one vote. ...
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  • 99.2k
19 votes
Accepted

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

No, the text was not generated entirely by a computer program. Humans worked with the algorithm to generate the sentences, selected the ones they liked best, edited them into a story, and even added ...
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  • 399
18 votes

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

According to NPR's Codeswitch, the term racism meaning "discrimination or prejudice based on race", was used before 1927. The term as used in the picture you show seems to have a different ...
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  • 521
17 votes
Accepted

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

Most likely no. X is one of many symbols used for unknowns throughout the history of mathematics, and comes from a notation in the 1600's that used several other letters alongside X. Some Arab ...
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  • 11.4k
15 votes

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

Yes, Dr. David Edwards was the Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL/NCLIS) for 31 years. His Ph.D. is ...
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  • 8,925
14 votes
Accepted

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

Yes, they did, as far as I can tell. I was looking for references to this in German media/academic publications, but could not find much. I could however find this article from the archives of "Die ...
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  • 944
14 votes
Accepted

Does requesting a bilingual trial often result in dismissal?

According to Justice Department guidelines federal and state courts that receive federal financial assistance only have to "take reasonable steps" to accommodate lingual needs: The Supreme Court ...
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  • 256
13 votes
Accepted

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

According to Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945: The Speak American Campaign was launched on October 12, 1942, with much fanfare in the white press. The Service Committee ...
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  • 99.2k
13 votes
Accepted

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

2018 update: Please see the other two answers for evidence that the photo attached below is of the sign being repainted. Newspaper sources don't directly attest to this, but there was widespread ...
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  • 40.4k
13 votes

In ritualistic use, did "virgin blood" originally mean "unused blood"?

According a 1788 printing of The Works of Aristotle (which wasn't really by Aristotle) "virgin blood" means the blood of a virgin. A third cause of natural barrenness is, the letting of virgins' ...
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  • 99.2k
12 votes

In American Sign Language, does 2022 loosely translate to "bird go peace-peace"?

It's a slight exaggeration to say that the numbers "translate" to a phrase, but the signs do appear to be similar enough to work as the visual equivalent of a pun. Here are some videos ...
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  • 5,952
11 votes

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

While the accepted answer shows that one poster did not misspell election, there were other such posters. Even the caption refers to "signs painted all over Tokyo boosting MacArthur". There was even ...
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  • 99.2k
11 votes

Has Richard Dawkins never learnt a language other than English?

While the image of English-speakers as wilful monoglots is a common one, Dawkins is not one of them. He's learning German, not for practical reasons but as an atonement for the prejudice England has, ...
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  • 38.5k
11 votes
Accepted

Are the ingredients listed in "Macbeth" common plants?

Macbeth dates back to around 1606. Tongue of Dog While the most common name for the plant seems to have been hounds tongue, there are a few instances of it going by another name: Dogs tongue. I found “...
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