Language Facts

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."


You're more likely to die on your way to buy a lottery ticket than you are to actually win the lottery.

We've all heard the adage "you're more likely to get struck by lightning than to win the lottery." Sounds grim. Apparently, it's also more likely that you will die on the way to buying your lottery ticket than actually win the lottery.

Of course this all depends on your mode of transportation to buy the ticket and the characteristics of the area where you buy it and even your demographics. It is true that you are more likely to die in a car accident than win though. The gist is that it's very unlikely that you will win the lottery.

Some other things that are more likely than winning the lottery? Dying from flesh-eating bacteria, dying from a bee sting, becoming a movie star, dying in a bathtub and having identical quadruplets.


Some awesome lists!

Noah Webster, the inventor of American English, learnt 26 languages in order to be able to evaluate the etymology of words!

Noah Webster is responsible for what is known as American English.

He believed English spelling rules were too complex and in his 1828 book, The American Dictionary of the English Language, he changed the spelling of words like 'colour' to 'color' and 'centre' to 'center'.

He learnt 26 languages during the time he was writing his dictionary in order to better evaluate the etymology of words.

Some of those languages included Anglo-Saxon, Gothic, German, Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, Welsh, Russian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.

During those times Americans in different parts of the country used different types of vocabulary. The also spelled, pronounced and used words differently. Webster hoped that he could standardize American speech.

Webster's dictionaries brought about a redefinition of Americanism in a time of unstable American cultural identity.

He saw language as a tool to control wayward thoughts and his American Dictionary underlined the virtues of social control over human passions and even individualism. It emphasized submission to authority, and fear of God.

After Noah's death George and Charles Merriam got the publishing and revision rights for Webster's 1840 edition of the dictionary but after a series of law suits they lost the rights to exclusively use the name "Webster". The name was then changed to Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.


Contrary to a popular theory, the word 'testify' has got nothing to do with testicles. Find out why they sound as if they could be related

There is a theory that the word ‘testify’ originated because Romans placed their hands on their genitals or on another persons genitals, or testicles, when testifying.

This is very far from the truth! The Romans certainly did not swear oaths on their private parts.

The confusion can be cleared up by looking at the etymology of the word ‘testify.’ It originates from the Latin word ‘testis’ meaning ‘witness.’

Note there is a difference between testis and testes. Later the word developed into ‘testificari’, still meaning ‘a witness’. Only in late Middle English was the word ‘testify’ used, which was derived from the root Latin word ‘testificari’.

Now, you might wonder where the word ‘testicle’ originates from. ‘Testiculus’ is the diminutive of the Latin root word ‘testis’ and means ‘witness of virility.’ The plural is testes. Clearly both these refer to a witnessing of some kind, but testifying certainly did not come from men placing their hands on the testicles of others.

To clear up any further confusion (if there could still be any) ‘virility’ originates from the Latin word ‘virilitatem’ (from virilis), which means power of procreation. Therefore ‘testicles’ directly translated would mean ‘witness of (a man’s) power of procreation.’



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