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In 1995, the number of TV programmes in Britain watched by over 15 million people was 225. By 2004, this had fallen to six.

Biologists cannot agree on definitions for the words ‘species’, ‘organism’ or ‘life’.

Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo all mean ‘capital’, in their respective languages.

Dildos are illegal in Texas.

The amount of water on Earth is constant, and continually recycled over time: some of the water you drink, will have passed through a dinosaur.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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Isolating Morphology


‘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.’

– Finegan. E. 2008. Language, Its Structure And Use Stamford, CT, United States: Cengage Learning (2012) p. 54

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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.

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What To Call The @


The @ is called by many different names across the 28 member states of the EU – mainly animals. The map also locates curious clusters in which these animals congregate, as if certain climates are more favourable to certain imaginary creatures than to others. Electronic elephants seem to thrive only in Scandinavia, for example.

The Romance languages by and large stuck to the inanimate arroba, the pre-digital name for the @ sign in Spanish and Portuguese. That name is derived from the Arabic ar-rub, meaning a quarter – in this case, a measure of weight: 25% of what a donkey (or mule) could carry. In Spain, the customary weight of an arroba was 25 pounds (11.5 kg), in Portugal, 32 pounds (14.7 kg). On the map, we see these weights proliferate throughout the Iberian peninsula, but also in France and French-speaking Belgium (as arobase).

Continental Europe is otherwise dominated by digital monkeys, due to the likeness of the @ to a monkey tail curling around a tree branch. In Germany and Austria, the symbol is referred to as Klammeraffe. The word translates as ‘spider monkey’ – an American genus of monkey noted for its long tail. Klammer on its own can mean ‘bracket’, ‘staple’ or ‘paperclip’. The Klammeraffe shares Germany and Austria with the ordinary at. But in Poland, the małpa (‘monkey’) has the country to itself.

Dutch speakers in the Netherlands and Belgium refer to the @ as apenstaart(je), ‘(little) monkey tail’. In Luxembourgish, that becomes Afeschwanz.

The simian simile also proliferates throughout the Balkans: in Romanian, the @ is called coadă de maimuţă (‘monkey tail’), in Bulgarian маймунка (maimunka – ‘little monkey’). Croatians either use at or manki, a direct loan from the English ‘monkey’ (rather than the Croatian word for monkey, majmun). Their Slovenian neighbours call it an afna (‘little monkey’).

In Scandinavia, the elephant was seen as an apt metaphor for the curly a. In both Danish and Swedish, the @ is called snabel-a, with snabel meaning ‘[elephant’s] trunk’. Their Finnish neighbours offically call it at-merkki, but colloquially either kissanhäntä (‘cat’s tail’) or miukumauku (‘meow-meow’).

Czechs and Slovaks are united in their fishy metaphor for the @, finding in its curly appearance a similarity to zavináč, or ‘rollmops’ (rolled pickled herring fillets).

Italy is dominated by a chiocciola (‘snail’) riding up its boot. In Greece and Cyprus, the @ is rather enigmatically compared to a παπάκι (papaki – ‘duckling’).

The Baltics follow the English fashion, and say at. Not very imaginative perhaps, but less impalatable than the Hungarians, who say kukac, or ‘maggot’.

That concludes all the fauna on this delightfully weird map, but here are some other remarkable names for @ in other languages: Armenian: shnik (‘puppy’); Chinese: xiao laoshu (‘little mouse’); Japanese: naruto (after the tidal whirlpools in Naruto bay); Kazakh: aykulak (‘moon’s ear’); Norwegian: krøllalfa (‘curly alpha’); Russian: sobaka (‘dog’); Ukrainian: vukho (‘ear’).

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According to the Greek Historian Herodotes, king Xerxes I of Persia had the Dardanelles (also known as the Hellespont) whipped three hundred times and branded with red-hot iron rods for the crime of ‘breaking two bridges’. He also had the architects beheaded.

37% of all the people in the world are either Indian or Chinese.

The longest English name on record is Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudatifilius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache. He was a captain in the British Army who died during the First World War in 1917, aged 32.

Bambi, Dizzy, Squiffy, Puddin, Lord Cupid, The Blubberer, Jack Boot, Hubble-Bubble, The Coroner, Stalin, and The Great She-Elephant are all nicknames for British Prime Ministers.

When a Mormon church elder told writer and comedian Stephen Fry he would be reunited with his entire family after death if he become a Mormon, he replied “What happens if you’re good?” He was asked to leave Salt Lake City immediately.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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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.

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Kowtow [Verb.]


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.