Page 2 - Language Facts

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.

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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.

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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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Some awesome lists!

there are more people speaking french in Africa than in France


French is mostly a second language in Africa, but in some areas it has become a first language, such as in the region of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire or Libreville, Gabon.

The language is spoken by an estimated 120 million (2010) people in Africa spread across 15 countries.

This doesn’t even include those in non “French-speaking” countries. With this number, Africa is the continent with the most people who speak French, meaning that there are more people who speak it in Africa than in France, though a continent is much larger than a single country.

The amount of French spoken depends on where you go. Sometimes it’s used as a first language by upper-class members while the lower classes know it as a second language. The French spoken is known as African French, and is a little different from the original language.

The countries with the most French speakers are the Democratic Republic of the Congo with over 24 million people who know it as either their first or second language, Algeria with 19 million, Côte d'Ivoire with close to 13 million and Morocco with over 10 million.

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There is a town in Norway named ‘Hell’.




It gets even better - if you use the country’s abbreviated form, the town is called Hell, NO! The name Hell is deriven not from the fiery furnace, from the Old Norse word hellir, which meant ‘cliff cave’. Strangely enough, nowadays the word ‘hell’ in Norwegian means luck! As you would expect, the town has become a relatively popular tourist destination over the years. Visitors enjoy taking photographs of the local train station, which boasts a sign which reads “Hell: Gods-expedition”. This is actually a clever play on the Norwegian term godsekspedisjon, which means “cargo handling”! Rumor has it that this Hell tends to freeze over annually, believe it or not.

Another Hellishly fun fact: Mona Grudt, the first Norwegian to be named "Miss Universe", is from a small town near Hell. During the competition in 1990, she listed herself as "The Beauty Queen from Hell" as a publicity stunt. The trick must've worked, because she ended up winning the entire competition!
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