Language Facts

The word 'cliche' is an onomatopoeia!

Cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing it's original meaning, effect, and even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea that is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. Typically pejorative, clichés are not always false or inaccurate; a cliché may or may not be true.

You probably knew most of this, but what you probably didn’t know is that the word is an onomatopoeia! Representing the sound of a printing press.Just try not to go around bragging about it's origin, or it might soon become very cliché.


Even after 400 years, the people on this Virginian island still speak Shakespearian English!

At least they’ve adopted modern forms of hygiene.

Originally a retreat for the Pocomoke Indian tribe, John Smith was the first European to discover the small island of Tangier, Virginia. In the 1670s, the island was claimed and settled by Elizabeth Scarburgh and Anthony West.

Throughout history, Tangier provided very limited access to mainland Virginia. As such, many of its 727 citizens did not pick up distinctly American customs.

For example, like many places in America, Tangier has an accent distinct to the area. However, unlike its Virginian neighbors, the island’s dialect is distinctly un-American. In fact, most residents speak not with an American accent, but in an Old English dialect reminiscent of how people talked during Shakespeare’s day.

In addition, the island’s isolation gave way to some other cultural oddities. Most notable of these is the existence of Tangier disease, a genetic disorder known for causing high cholesterol.

Only one school exists on the island, with each grade consisting of ten children or less. Two local doctors work on the island.

Until 2010, residents did not have access to the Internet or cable television. However, since acquiring these services, Tangier residents have grown incredibly fond of streaming sports.


Some awesome lists!

No translation needed: people in Columbus, Ohio speak the clearest form of American English!

Throughout America, there are a number of different English dialects and accents. Some well-known examples of region-specific dialects include the Boston, New York, New Orleans, and Texas accents.

These dialects, though very unique and distinct, are often hard for others to understand. Even fellow English-speakers may have trouble figuring out what someone from New Jersey means when they ask for a "tail" (hint: they probably just got out of the shower).

This is why many radio hosts, commentators, actors, and other media personalities develop a "professional voice" that is different from their real, natural accent. The aim is to speak the clearest form of English possible.

However, it seems people in the Columbus, Ohio area do that naturally.

By many accounts, the Midland English dialect, spoken by individuals in and around Columbus, Ohio, among other areas, is the clearest form of American English. According to Shippensburg University professor Dr. C. George Boeree, it is the version of American English most easily understood by fellow English speakers.

The Midland American English dialect was first recognized by Hans Kurath in 'A World Geography of the Eastern United States'.


Most of the Dwarf names in Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings' were sourced from the 'Dvergata' (The Catalog of Dwarfs) - a section of an Old Norse poem

It is a known fact that J.R.R. Tolkien structured 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy around the languages he developed himself.

They're accepted as 'real' languages as they each have their own unique structure and grammar.

Tolkien said this of his writing style: The invention of languages is the foundation. The 'stories' were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows."

Clearly names are very important to him and that is probably why a section of Vlusp (the first poem of a collection of Old Norse poems) appealed to him. The section is called the Dvergata and translated it means 'the Catalog of Dwarfs'.

Tolkien took almost all of the names of the Dwarfs of Middle Earth as well as Gandalf's name from the Dvergata. Tolkien's youngest son, Christopher, suggests that "those Dwarf-names in The Hobbit provided the whole starting-point for the Mannish languages in Middle-earth."

At least twenty five of Tolkien's Dwarfs were named after Dwarfs listed in this section of the poem contained in stanzas ten to sixteen of Vlusp.

When people asked Tolkien what 'The Lord of the Rings' is all about, he used to reply: "It is to me, anyway, largely an essay in 'linguistic aesthetic."



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