In northern Sweden, the word yes is widely communicated by a sound that’s reminiscent of someone sucking through a straw. It’s called the pulmonic ingressive. Linguist Robert Eklund calls this a neglected universal, meaning that it’s only recently been recognized as a sound that’s part of many languages around the world, even though it’s been around for a while. In one study, Swedes talking on the phone used ingressive speech when they thought they were speaking with a human, but not when they thought they were conveying the same information to a computer. This is part of a complete episode.
- The Last Straw 12/11/2017: In this episode, books for word lovers, from a collection of curious words to some fun with Farsi. • Some people yell "Geronimo!" when they... [more]
- Skedaddle 12/02/2017: The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning "seven," "eight," "nine," and "ten." So why don't their names... [more]
- Coast is Clear 11/25/2017: In the military, if you've lost the bubble, then you can't find your bearings. The term first referred to calibrating the position of aircraft and... [more]
- Hidden Treasures 11/20/2017: A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enlisted men. These soldiers lacked formal education so... [more]
- Butterflies in Your Stomach 11/14/2017: If you're not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you're missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment.... [more]