The names Honda and Toyota derive from Japanese words for different kinds of rice field.
The longest palindrome in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘tattarrattat’. James Joyce used it in Ulysses: ‘I knew his tattarrattat at the door.’
Each of us is surrounded by bacteria that are released from our bodies; everyone’s personal microbial cloud is unique.
An animal the size of an elephant could evolve to an animal the size of a sheep in 100,000 generations, but for an animal the size of a sheep to evolve to the size of an elephant would take 1.6 million generations.
There are words which are pronounced the same as other words but differ in meaning or origin; these words are known as homophones. They are usually found within one language (e.g. carrot and karat) but they can cross language barriers; although they do not often exactly match across languages – as there always seem to be some slight deviation in how various sounds are pronounced – interlingual homophones do exist and can, potentially, cause all sorts of confusion.
εκεί / aquí
In Greek, there. In Spanish, here.
ναι / nej
In Greek, yes. In Swedish, no.
pig / pigg
In English, mammalian species of the genus Sus. In Swedish, alert.
say / sé
In English, to speak. In Spanish, I know.
When Dr Samuel Johnson had finished his great lexicography, the first real English dictionary, he was visited by various delegations of people to congratulate him including a delegation of London’s respectable womanhood who came to his parlour in Fleet Street and said ‘Doctor, we congratulate you on your decision to exclude all indecent words from your dictionary.’ Whereupon he said ‘Ladies, I congratulate you on your persistence in looking them up.’