‘Chinese is a language with isolating morphology – in which each word tends to be a single isolated morpheme. An isolating language lacks both derivational and inflectional morphology. Using separate words, Chinese expresses certain content that an inflecting language might express with inflectional affixes. For example, whereas English has an inflectional possessive (the boy’s hat) and a so-called analytical possessive (hat of the boy), Chinese permits only hat of the boy possessives. Chinese also does not have tense markers, and on pronouns it does not mark distinctions of gender (he/she), number (she/they), or case (they/them). Where English has six words – he, she, him, her, they, and them – Chinese uses only a single word, though it can indicate plurality with a separate word. The sentence below illustrates the one-morpheme-per-word pattern typical of Chinese.
wo gang yao gei ni na yi bei cha
I just will give you that one cup tea.
‘I am about to bring you a cup of tea.’
Even more than Chinese, Vietnamese approximates the one-morpheme-per-word model that characterizes isolating languages.’
About 78% of the food advertised on Canadian television is fast food.
The first ever hot air balloon passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. They made their successful flight in 1783.
The Japanese and Russians call the sun red. The Chinese call it yellow and white.
George W. Bush was the first American President to come to office with a criminal record. He had been arrested for drunk driving. Bush was the second man with a criminal record to become President if you count George Washington’s record for treason.
If you spent one day visiting each of Indonesia’s islands, it would take 48 years to see them all.
The twenty most densely populated countries house 50% of all the people of the world.
On April Fool’s Day it is common in France to try to pin a paper cut-out of a fish to someone else’s back. Hence the name Poisson d’Avril, ‘April Fish’.
Mutterkuchen, the German word for placenta literally means ‘mother cake’.
The Japanese and Chinese get blue and green mixed up. The Japanese call the green light at the traffic light blue, ‘aoi shingou’; and often refer to green vegetables as blue as well, ‘aona’. The Chinese do the same when they talk about the dish bok choy, it contains a green vegetable called Chinese cabbage for which the Chinese use the character for blue. In Japanese, the character for green originally did not mean the colour green but instead symbolised youth. That is why, in Japanese, glossy hair is literally called ‘greenish black hair’ and a newborn baby is called a ‘green child’.
The Belgian astronomer and professor of physics Georges Lemaitre pioneered the Big Bang theory for the development of the universe in the 1920s. He was a Catholic priest.
Kowtow, which describes the act of kneeling and touching one’s head to the ground to show respect, used to be a custom in Chinese culture. Now it refers to acting like you’re doing that, whether you actually bow or not.
Kowtow is derived from the Chinese word k’o-t’ou, which literally means “knock the head.” As a verb, kowtow has the sense of “sucking up” or “flattering.” Maybe you’re wondering when it would be appropriate to kowtow. The answer? When you want to worship, show respect, gain favour, or flatter. You might need to kowtow to your teacher if you failed a test, but if you kowtow to all your neighbour’s requests, you might wind up mowing his lawn all summer.