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Origin of the Term Byzantine

A physician heard a broadcaster use the term byzantine to describe the current health care system, and wonders about the origin of this adjective. Martha notes that the Byzantine Empire, which began in the 4th century A.D., was notable for its...

Origin of Nosy

Are we a nosy species? A listener married to a woman from Bangladesh explains how a Bengali term that translates as “nose-going” reflects the naturally inquisitive style of Bangladeshi culture. In many languages, the nose figures...

English Derivatives of Tagalog

It’s likely America’s greatest linguistic export: O.K. A caller raised in the Philippines is curious about its origin. The hosts give him an answer, and also point out a familiar word in English that derives from the caller’s...

Never Bolt Your Door with A Boiled Carrot

Proverbs pack great truths into a few well-chosen words, no matter which language you speak. Check out this one from Belize: “Don’t call the alligator a big-mouth till you have crossed the river.” And this truism from Zanzibar:...

Speaking English with a Foreign Accent

Do English-speaking foreigners understand you better if you speak English with a foreign accent? A Californian says that on a recent visit to Armenia, he discovered the locals had an easier time if he spoke English with an Armenian accent. Is this...

Foreign Language Range of Love

A listener calls from in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to say that in her native Spanish, she can use several different words for love to denote a whole range of feelings, depending on how close she is to the other person. She’s frustrated that...

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