Page 10 - Language Facts

Russians have a word to describe a weekend long bender! Learn more


The word "Zapoi" (written in Russian as запой) refers to two or more days of continuous drunkenness, during which an individual withdraws from society.

The fact that Russia has a word for such a specific behavior is not surprising—drunk culture is widely prevalent throughout Russian society, and heavy drinking is generally a socially acceptable behavior.

According to a World Health Organization report in 2011, the annual per capita alcohol consumption in the country is 15.76 liters, the fourth highest in Europe.

In 2012, as an effort to combat alcoholism in the country, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev nearly doubled the price of vodka. Still, the problem persists throughout the country.

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Ending a Sentence With a Preposition is Just Fine If You're Speaking English. Here's why


A preposition at the end of a sentence is also known as a stranded preposition. It is a grammatical myth that a sentence in English should never end in a preposition, and this rule originates from the Latin-obsessed 17th century. For the next two centuries teachers and grammarians very seriously tried to enforce it.

English is not Latin and the deferring of prepositions is part of English. If you wish to be a pro-Latin grammar elitist—maneuvering all prepositions to the end of a sentence—you might end up sounding like Yoda in Star Wars.

A well known witticism that illustrates this point very well, is: "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!"

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"Helicopter" and "pterodactyl" have the same Greek root word! Do you know which?


Police use helicopters, but the etymology of helicopter has nothing to do with cops. Rather, it relates to fliers from the Jurassic period. It's helico–pter, from the Greek ἕλικος (elikos) "spiral" + πτερόν (pteron) "wing."

The "-pter" in helicopter is the same as the "–pter" in pterodactyl. The prehistoric flying reptile is "wing-fingered." It gets it's name from πτερόν + "dactyl," the combining form of δάκτυλος (dactylos) "finger."

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South Africans call traffic lights "robots"—You'll never guess why!


Every language and every country has it's own slang. There are even huge differences between each US State. South Africa is no different—it has dozens of words used to describe people, places and things that other English-speaking nations do not have.

Some of these include poppie (a ditzy woman), snackwich (a grilled cheese sandwich), and tekkies/tackies (sneakers). Somewhat confusingly, they call traffic lights "robots." They of course call actual robots "robots" too.

The practice of calling traffic lights robots came about when they were first installed in South Africa. Then, they were called "robot policemen" and the name was shortened over time.

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What was the last letter added to the alphabet?


Ever wonder why I and j are side by side in the alphabet when they look so similar? Well, they actually started out as the same letter.

The letter j's swash was just an embellishment on I. The two would be used interchangeably. This explains the 'j' in the word hallelujah.

With the introduction of the Roman numeric system, j was also used to punctuate a series of one's, like xiij for the number 13.

It seemed that 'j' would forever be doomed to life as a fancy 'I' until 1524 when an Italian Renaissance grammarian Gian Giorgio Trissino distinguished the two sounds.

He introduced the soft 'j' sound, as in "jam." For this, Trissino was named father of the letter "j". Yet ironically, his name contains 5 I's and no j's.

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