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130 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 ...
Just J for now's user avatar
65 votes

Is Stanford's "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative" real?

This is a real initiative. Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative is (or rather, was) hosted on Stanford's website. The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) is a multi-phase, multi-...
Brian's user avatar
  • 930
55 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 ...
Avery's user avatar
  • 46.4k
51 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 ...
vipirtti's user avatar
  • 561
49 votes
Accepted

Is Stanford's "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative" real?

While Brian's answer was correct when they posted it 13 hours ago, as of now Stanford has apparently backpedaled: The feedback that this work was broadly viewed as counter to inclusivity means we ...
xLeitix's user avatar
  • 664
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 ...
SIMEL's user avatar
  • 33.3k
25 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 ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
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 ...
Jiminy Cricket.'s user avatar
21 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 ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 32k
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 ...
DLosc's user avatar
  • 403
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 ...
Giter's user avatar
  • 11.6k
17 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 ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
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 ...
zkl_zkl_'s user avatar
  • 954
13 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 ...
Thegs's user avatar
  • 246
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' ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
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 ...
IMSoP's user avatar
  • 9,015
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, ...
Golden Cuy's user avatar
  • 39.1k
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 “...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 32k
10 votes
Accepted

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

The Guardian did a short piece on this and the bottom line is straightforward: American kids may have picked up a Britishism or two, but the claim that they’re developing a whole accent based off a ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 7,728
9 votes
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Can people "wake up" with a new accent? (Foreign Accent Syndrome)

Foreign accent syndrome is real, and it is discussed in the scientific literature. The term shows up in the scientific literature. A google scholar search for "Foreign Accent Syndrome" turns up about ...
BobTheAverage's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

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

With regards to this question, How come arabs be so verbose in the field of chatting and be so unproductive in terms of internet content? a possible answer comes from this sentence in the IWS site:...
eyeballfrog's user avatar
9 votes

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

Most likely true There is little doubt that first 3 languages are English, Chinese and Spanish. The contestants for number 4 spot would be: Portugese Russian Hindi Arabic If you look at number ...
vartec's user avatar
  • 26.7k
8 votes

Is Melania Trump barely able to speak English?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wjx_ysYHJNo Melania Trump has clear but accented speech.
user3644640's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Do Rohingyas speak in a Bengali dialect?

Short Answer The claim "Rohingya is a Bengali dialect" cannot be meaningfully proven due to difficulties in defining what constitutes a dialect and what constitutes a language. But it is safe to say "...
cyco130's user avatar
  • 196
8 votes
Accepted

Is "Mu" a more common last name than "Xi" in China?

To turn my comments into a semi-reliable answer (meaning I have not much expertise in this): it seems the frequency data is being cited from Wikipedia, but the data is patchy and appears to have been (...
got trolled too much this week's user avatar
7 votes

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

No, the phrase was already in use before WWII. See page 46 of the October 1935 issue of The American Legion Monthly: And on every movie lot where they are shooting army pictures you'll find an ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
7 votes
Accepted

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

According to The History & design of the Australian House The name of the town was derived from the Aboriginal Araba tribal words kupa piti meaning 'boy's waterhole', and not 'white man in a ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
7 votes
Accepted

Is it true that "One-Eyed Willy" means "penis"?

The earliest references I see for the exact term "One Eyed Willy" meaning penis are from 1996: According to Do We Really Know what Love Is? A Guide for Improving Love Relationships (1996): ...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 108k
6 votes

Can Rambo, the German shepherd, follow written commands?

Summary: We don't have good evidence that let's us conclude precisely what Rambo's "reading" abilities are. The experimental design and setup in the video does not allow to judge this, and ...
cbeleites's user avatar
  • 3,536
6 votes

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

My uncle Bernard Frew joined MacArthur in Australia; he served as his secretary, landed holding the arm of the Philippian President, stood in the group behind the General on the Missouri, then changed ...
Bill Frew's user avatar

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