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ACCEDED, CABBAGE, BAGGAGE, DEFACED, EFFACED, and FEEDBAG are seven-letter words which can be played on a musical instrument. CABBAGED is an eight-letter one.

ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC is the longest acronym in the 1965 edition of the Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary. It is a Navy term standing for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command [Dickson]. Another acronym, PUMCODOXPURSACOMLOPAR, stands for «pulse-modulated coherent Doppler-effect X-band pulse-repetition synthetic-array pulse compression lobe planar array»

AEGILOPS (alternate spelling of egilops, an ulcer in a part of the eye) is apparently the longest word in W2 which consists of letters in alphabetical order. This word is not in W3. CHILLLOSS (the opposite of a heatloss) has its letters in alphabetical order, although this word may not be in any dictionary [Word Ways]. The title of the film EFIK MOVY was written abcdEFghIjKlMnOpqrstuVwxYz to show the alphabetical-order property. BEEFILY and BILLOWY are the longest such words in OSPD2+.

Six-letter words with their letters in alphabetical order include: ABBESS, ABHORS, ACCENT, ACCEPT, ACCESS, ACCOST, ADDERS, AFFLUX, ALMOST, BEGINS, BELLOW, BIJOUX, BIOPSY, CHILLY, CHIMPS, CHINTZ, CHIPPY, CHITTY, CHIVVY, CHOOSY, CHOPPY, EFFLUX, EFFORT, FLOORS, FLOPPY, FLOSSY, GHOSTY, GLOSSY, and KNOTTY

Mark D. Lew points out that BEVY not only has its letters in alphabetical order but is also symmetrical in its distribution over the alphabet (that is, B and Y are equidistant from the center; likewise E and V). BY and LO also meet this description.

ASTHMA and ISTHMI (alternate plural of isthmus) are perhaps the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.

AGUE/VAGUE is a two-syllable word which becomes a one-syllable word by adding a letter or letters. Other examples: AGUE/PLAGUE, RUGGED/SHRUGGED, AGED/RAGED, AGED/STAGED.

Some common words which change from one to three syllables upon the addition of just one letter are: ARE/AREA, CAME/CAMEO, CRIME/CRIMEA, GAPE/AGAPE, HOSE/HOSEA, JUDE/JUDEA, LIEN/ALIEN, OLE/OLEO, RODE/RODEO, ROME/ROMEO, and SMILE/SIMILE. There are numerous other examples involving more obscure words.
Some words which change from one to two syllables when letters are removed are: SOURCE/SOUR, BOAT/BOA, HAVE/AVE, CAVE/AVE (etc.), WHOLE/OLE, SOLE/OLE (etc.)

ANHUNGRY is one answer to the question, «What’s the other word besides ‘angry’ and ‘hungry’ that ends in ‘gry’?» This is the most frequently asked question of the editors of Merriam-Webster. Actually, «angry» and «hungry» are the only two words in common use ending in -gry, but quite a few obsolete or obscure words can be found in unabridged dictionaries. Among them are ANHUNGRY, used by Shakespeare, and AGGRY BEAD, both of which are in W3. The only -GRY words in RHUD2 are ANGRY, HUNGRY, HALF-ANGRY, OVERANGRY, and UNANGRY. Chambers has AGGRY (an adjective describing certain ancient West African beads) and AHUNGRY (oppressed with hunger). OSPD has PUGGRY (a variant form of the more usual PUGGAREE, a scarf wrapped around a sun helmet). The OED has angry, an-hungry, begry, conyngry, gry, higry pigry, hungry, iggry, meagry, menagry, nangry, podagry, skugry, unangry.
[An alternate solution this question is the word "language." The person actually says, "Think of words ending in -gry. Hungry and angry are 2 of them. There are three words in the english language. What is the third? You use it everyday. If you paid attention we have already told you the answer." More on the -gry question can be found at http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/gry.htm and at http://www.tempe.gov/library/netsites/gry.htm.]

Beijing has three dotted letters in a row (in lower case). Other words with multiple dotted letters are remijia, bogijiab, pirijiri, kharijite (which are all in W2), gaijin (in OSPD3), Fiji, Hajji, hijinks, Ujiji (where Stanley found Livingstone in 1871), Ajijic and Pijijiapan (cities in Mexico) jinjili, ijijimòò (Nauruan for the adjective «lean,» and Nauruan is a palindrome!), Shijiazhuang (Chinese city).
Niijima and Iijima are Japanese last names; Minoru Niijima is the artist who drew the cover graphic for Edward R. Tufte’s book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
In Dutch, there are jij (you), pijjekker (pea-jacket), schrooiijzer (upstanding cutting iron for bars, rods), Sjiiet (follower of the Shia), snijijzer (cutting iron), uitdijing (expansion), and zijig (silky)
In Lithuanian, jiji is an archaic Lithuanian form of «him» consisting exclusively of dotted letters, and kraujijimas is archaic for «staining with blood»
In Swahili, jiji means «city» and kijiji means a small city or village .
A property development company in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the Katujjijiit Development Corporation, with six consecutive dotted letters

The earliest known use of CATENARY in English is by President Thomas Jefferson. The earliest known use of MILEAGE is by Benjamin Franklin.

CATERCORNER has eight spellings in W3: catercorner, cater-cornered, catacorner, cata-cornered, catty-corner, catty-cornered, kitty-corner, and kitty-cornered. Another dictionary has cater-corner.

In the translations of Hebrew to English there are 16 spellings for HANUKKAH (in alphabetical order): Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, and Khanukkah.
The name Muammar Khadafi has over 30 variants according to the Library of Congress.
The only countries in the world with one syllable in their names are CHAD, FRANCE, GREECE, and SPAIN

CHINCHERINCHEE, which the OED2 describes as a common variant of chinkerinchee, has one letter occurring once, two letters occurring twice, and three letters occurring three times.
Among words consisting only of Roman numeral letters, the «highest scoring» Roman numeral words in English (e.g. MerCy = 1100) are MIMIC (2,102) and IMMIX (2012).

If U is allowed in Roman numeral words, there are ILLUVIUM, DILUVIUM (a coarse glacial deposit), MILLILUX (1/1000th of a lux), ILLICIUM (a genus of evergreen trees), and CULICID (mosquito family).
CONSERVATIONALISTS/CONVERSATIONALISTS (18 letters) is the longest non-scientific transposal (words which are anagrams of each other), according to Guinness. Another transposal is INTERNATIONALISM/INTERLAMINATIONS (16 letters).
The longest «well-mixed» transposals (no more than three consecutive letters in common) are BASIPARACHROMATIN/MARSIPOBRANCHIATA (17 letters) and THERMONASTICALLY/HEMATOCRYSTALLIN (16 letters).
The longest three-way well-mixed transposal is INTERROGATIVES/REINVESTIGATOR/TERGIVERSATION (14 letters).
The longest «perfectly mixed» transposals (no consecutive letter combinations) are NITROMAGNESITE/REGIMENTATIONS and ROTUNDIFOLIATE/TITANOFLUORIDE (both 14 letters)

CWM (a glacial hollow on a hillside) has the rare W as a vowel, as does CRWTH (a type of stringed instrument). Both words are in MWCD10. They are pronounced «koom» and «krooth» (rhyming with room and truth). Other such words, not in MWCD10, are TWP (stupid), AWDL (an ode written in the strict alliterative meters), and LLWCHWR (a city-district in Wales). These words are of Welsh origin. The OED includes numerous archaic spellings in which W or V is a vowel.

DABCHICK (a small bird) is among the very few words that contain ABC. Some others: ABCOULOMB, ABCHALAZAL, ABCAREE, CRABCAKE, DRABCLOTH. Allowing intervening punctuation, there is SAB-CAT (a saboteur) in W2 and W3 [Susan Thorpe in WordsWorth]. Proper nouns include BABCOCK, ABCOUDE (city in the Netherlands), and ZABCIKVILLE (city in Texas). There are also ABCHASICA, ABCHASICUM, and ABCHASICUS, all three of which are botanical names for Paeonia Plants found in the Caucasus
DEEDED, GEGGEE (the victim of a hoax) and SESTETTES have each of their letters appearing three times.

A list of words that are formed only of repetitive identically spelled syllables or syllable groups: ANGANG-ANGANG (a type of Javanese gong), BERBER, BERIBERI, BULBUL (Persian songbird), CANCAN, CHA-CHA, COCO, DODO, DUMDUM, GAGA, GOODY-GOODY, GRIS-GRIS, IHI’IHI, JUJU, LULU, MAHI MAHI, MAU MAU, MURMUR, MUUMUU, POM-POM, POOH-POOH, SING SING, SO-SO, TAM-TAM (tuned gong),TARTAR, TOM-TOM, TUK-TUK (3-wheeled transport), TUTU, KUKUKUKU (the name of a people in eastern New Guinea, in W3), PIPIPI (a small black Hawaiian bivalve).
Six-letter repeaters: ATLATL, BEEBEE, BONBON, BOOBOO, BOUBOU, BULBUL, CANCAN, CHICHI, COOCOO, CUSCUS, DIKDIK, DUMDUM, FURFUR, GRIGRI, GRUGRU, MOTMOT, MURMUR, MUUMUU, PALPAL, PAWPAW, POMPOM, SARSAR, TARTAR, TSETSE, TSKTSK, TZATZA, VALVAL, WEEWEE.

Place names with the same property include: BADEN-BADEN (in Germany), BELLA BELLA (coastal town in British Columbia, Canada), BORA BORA (an island in French Polynesia), BUBUBUBU (a stream in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), FOFO FOFO (a town in Papua), KIRAKIRA (Solomon Islands), LOMALOMA (Fiji), NENGONENGO (Fr. Polynesia), PAGO PAGO (Am. Samoa), PAOPAO (Fr. Polynesia), PUAPUA (W. Samoa), PUEPUE (Solomon Islands), PUKAPUKA (Cook Islands), RABA RABA (Papua New Guinea), REKAREKA (Fr. Polynesia), SAVUSAVU (Fiji), SOMOSOMO (Fiji), WALLA WALLA (U. S.), and WAGGA WAGGA (Australia)

There are many scientific names for which the genus and species are the same; these are called tautonyms.

GOOGOL is a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Mathematician Edward Kasner supposedly asked his nephew Milton Sirotta to suggest a name for the number, and he came up with this word, which is now found in many dictionaries. The million, billion, trillion, quadrillion system skips over this number. A googolplex is 1 followed by a googol of zeros.

The three-syllable word HIDEOUS, with the change of a single consonant, becomes a two-syllable word with no vowel sounds in common: HIDEOUT

HIV VIRUS is an obvious redundancy, since the «v» stands for «virus.» Some other common redundancies which include an abbreviation are ATM MACHINE, SALT TALKS, START TALKS, VIN NUMBER, PIN NUMBER, AC CURRENT, DC CURRENT, ISBN NUMBER, DOS OPERATING SYSTEM, ABS BRAKING SYSTEM, and LCD DISPLAY

HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS is the longest word consisting entirely of alternating vowels and consonants. (For information on this word, see the long words section.) Other such words are ALUMINOSILICATES, CYTOMEGALOVIRUS, DEPOLARIZABILITY, EPICORACOHUMERALER, HETEROZYGOSISES, HEXOSAMINIDASES, HYPOVITAMINOSISES, MYELOCYTOMATOSISES PARAMYXOVIRUSES, PARAROSANILINES, PARASITOLOGICAL, SUPEREROGATORILY, TENOSYNOVITIDES, TENOSYNOVITISES, UNIMAGINATIVELY, VERISIMILITUDES .
IMMUNOHEMATOLOGIC contains 8 pairs of alternating vowels and consonants.
Some words containing 7 pairs of alternating vowels and consonants are: ALUMINOSILICATE, AUTOMANIPULATIVE, DELIBERATIVENESS, GELATINIZABILITY, HYPEROXYGENIZES, IMAGINATIVENESS, INERADICABILITY, INOPERATIVENESS, MEGALOPOLITANISM, PHENOMENOLOGICAL, PHOTOPOLYMERIZATION, PRECIPITINOGENIC, PREFIGURATIVENESS, REMUNERATIVENESS, SEMIMINERALIZED, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, UNILATERALIZATION, UNILATERALIZES, VERISIMILITUDINOUS.

GORAN IVANESEVIC (a top tennis player) may be the longest name of a relatively famous person that alternates consonants and vowels.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES is the longest name of a country consisting of alternating vowels and consonants.
HYPoThAlAmICoHYPoPHYSeAlS is the longest word that can be spelled using chemical symbols. Other such words include NONRePReSeNTaTiONAlISmS, BrONCHOEsOPHAgOSCOPIEs, ThErMoPHOSPHOReSCeNCe, HYPSIBRaCHYCePHAlISm, HYPErPHOSPHOReSCeNCe, SUPErCoNdUCTiVITiEs, PARaPrOFeSSiONaLS, and SUPErSOPHISTiCAtE .
HYDROXYZINE (a prescription drug) is the only word in RHUD2 and the only word in OED2 containing XYZ. Allowing scientific names in biology, there is XYZZORS (a nematode worm) [Stuart Kidd]. XYZAL (Levocetirizine) is a prescription drug introduced in England in 2001.

The most commonly used words in spoken English are I, YOU, THE, and A.
The most commonly used words in written English, according to the 1971 American Heritage Word Frequency Book are: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, for, was, on, are, as, with, his, they at, be, this, from, I, have, or, by, one, had, not, but, what, all, were, when, we there, can, an, your, which, their, said, if, do.
The most commonly occurring words in Shakespeare’s plays and poetry (with frequencies) are: the 29854, and 27554, I 23357, to 21075, of 18520, a 15523, you 14264, my 12964, that 11955, in 11842, is 9734, not 8871, with 8269, s 8160, for 8100, it 8080, me 8059, 7357 his, 7228 be, 7120 he. In Shakespeare, 8598 words (abaissiez, abash, abatements, abates, abbeys. zo, zodiac, zodiacs, zone, zwaggered) are used only once.
The most commonly occurring sound in spoken English is the sound of a in alone, followed by e as in key, t as in top, and d as in dip.

Some words with horizontal symmetry (they reflect themselves across a horizontal line) are: BEDECKED, BOOHOOED, CEBID (a type of monkey), CHECKBOOK, CHOICE, CODEBOOK, COOKBOOK, DECIDED, DIOXIDE, DOBCHICK, EXCEEDED, HIDE, HOODOOED, ICEBOX, KEBOBBED, OBOE, OKEECHOBEE.
Some words with vertical symmetry are MOM, WOW, OTTO, MAAM, MA’AM, TOOT, AHA, AA, AHA, AIA, AMA, AVA, AWA, HAH, HOH, HUH, MAM, MIM, MM, MUM, OHO, OO, OXO, TAT, TIT, TOT, TUT, UTU, VAV, WAW.
All of the letters of these words have vertical symmetry: AUTOMATA, AUTOTOMY, HIMATIA, HOITY-TOITY, HOMOTAXIA, MAHATMA, MAHIMAHI, MAMMATI, MAMMOTH, MATAMATA, MOTIVITY, MOUTH-TO-MOUTH, MYOMATA, MYXOMATA, OUTWAIT, TATOUAY, TAXIWAY, THATAWAY, TIMOTHY, TOMATO, TOWAWAY, WITHOUT, YAWATAHAMA (a city in Japan), and YOUTH.

SWIMS has 180-degree rotational symmetry. If written in lower-case cursive, chump comes very close to having 180-degree rotational symmetry.
These words with 6 or more letters have all letters rotationally symmetrical: NINONS, ONIONS, SISSOOS, SOZINS, ZOONOSIS, ZOOZOOS.
All of the letters of these words have both horizontal and vertical symmetry: HI, OH, IO, OHIO, OHO, and IHI’IHI (rare Hawaiian fern that now exists only in three populations, two of which are inside volcanoes).

IFF is a word invented to mean «if and only if.» According to MWCD10, it can be pronounced three ways: «if and only if,» like «if,» and like «if» but with a prolonged «F.» There are 118 conjunctions in MWCD10; IFF is the only «new» conjunction, first seen in print in 1955.

The following words have 75% of their letters the same: IIWI (a Hawaiian bird), BIBB, FAFF, LALL, LILL, LOLL, LULL, MUMM, SASS, SESS, SISS, SOSS, TATT, ZIZZ, ÉÉPÉÉE (a fencing sword), and SUSS («Suss out» is British slang for «figure out»).
IMPETICOS is an example of a nonce word (a word which has been found to have been used only once). The word is spoken by the clown in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. W2 says perhaps it means «impocket.»

INTERCHANGEABILITY contains the words THREE, EIGHT, NINE, TEN, THIRTEEN, THIRTY, THIRTY-NINE, EIGHTY, EIGHTY-NINE, NINETY, and NINETY-EIGHT.
INTESTINES has each of its letters occurring twice. Some other such words: APPEASES, ARRAIGNING, BERIBERI, BILABIAL, CAUCASUS, CHOWCHOW, CONCISIONS, COUSCOUS, ESOPHAGOGRAPHERS, FROUFROU, GENSENGS, GREEGREE, GUITGUIT, HAPPENCHANCE, HORSESHOER, HOTSHOTS, JIPIJAPA, MAHIMAHI, MESOSOME, MILLIEME, MIMETITE, RAPPAREE, REAPPEAR, SCINTILLESCENT, SHAMMASH, SHANGHAIINGS, TEAMMATE, UNSUFFICIENCES, VETITIVE.

The shortest word with six letters appearing at least twice is METASOMATOSES.

IO (an interjection in Chambers and one of the moons of Jupiter), AI (the three-toed sloth), EO, OK, and AA (rough volcanic rock) seem to be the shortest two-syllable words.
IRAQ is one of the very few words ending in Q. Obscure words ending in Q are: SHOQ, PONTACQ, INUPIAQ (an Eskimo people), SUQ, ZAQAZIQ (or ZAGAZIG, a city in Egypt), ZIA-UL-HAQ (a proper name), and N’ASTALIQ. Chambers has TALAQ and TZADDIQ (which can also be spelled TSADDIQ). OSPD has TRANQ although this word is not in W2 or W3. KANGIQSUALUJJUAQ is an Inuit village in Quebec. KUUJJUAQ is a Canadian city. UMIAQ is apparently a variant spellling of UMIAK, an Eskimo boat, which is in W2 and W3.) SADIQ is a city in India. ABQAIQ is a city in Saudi Arabia.

HH is found in withhold, bathhouse, beachhead, bushhammer, fishhawk, fishhook, highhanded, hitchhike, roughhouse, washhouse, watchhouse, aarrghh, hashhead, roughhew, fleshhood, roughhewn, touchhole, youthhood, youthhead, sleuthhound, Pochhammer symbol, the German cities Forchheim and Lauchhammer, Hohhot in eastern Inner Mongolia, and the Machhu River in India.

JJ is found in AVIJJA, ZU’L-HIJJAH or DHU’L-HIJJAH (the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar), HAJJ (the Muslim pilgrimage), HAJJI, UJJAIN (one of the holy cities of India), CRIGLER-NAJJAR SYNDROME, KUUJJUAQ (Canadian city), and KANGIQSUALUJJUAQ (an Inuit village in Quebec).

QQ appears in HOOQQA (variant of hookah in the OED), HUQQA (a water pipe for smoking tobacco), RIQQ (an Egyptian tambourine) SAQQARA (a village in Egypt), ZAQQUM (a tree with bitter fruit, mentioned in the Koran), ZIQQURAT (an alternate spelling of zikkurat or ziggurat used in past editions of Guinness), BURUQQU (town in India), QQUEA and QQUERO (place names in Peru)

UU occurs in carduus, continuum, duumvir, duumviral, duumvirate, equuleus, Equus, ignus fatuus, individuum, intermenstruum, lituus, menstruum, mutuum, muumuu, obliquus, praecipuum, residuum, sadalsuud, semicontinuum, Smectymnuus, squush(y), triduum, vacuum, weltanschauung, zuurveldt.

UU is very common in Dutch and in Polynesian place names.

VV. The complete list from the UKACD: civvy, divvy, navvy, savvy, bovver, chivvy, luvvie, revved, skivvy, spivvy, chivved, civvies, divvied, divvies, flivver, luvvies, navvied, navvies, revving, savvied, savvies, shivved, chivvied, chivvies, chivving, divvying, flivvers, navvying, savvying, shivving, skivvies, bovver boy, chivvying, bovver boys, steam-navvy, bovver boots, civvy street, improvvisatore. Other words with a double V not in that dictionary are bivvy (slang for bivouac) and bivver (a variant of bever). Chambers has devvel, bevvy, bivvy, and crivvens.


WW occurs in arrowweed, arrowwood, arrowworm, bowwoman, bowwood, bowwow, cowweed, cowwheat, dewworm, glowworm, lowwood, mallowwort, meadowwort, pillowwork, plowwise, plowwoman, plowwright, powwow, powwower, powwowism, rainbowweed, sawway, sawworker, sawwort, screwwise, screwworm, shawwal, showworm, showworthy, skewwhiff, skewwise, slowworm, sparrowwort, squawweed, strawwalker, strawweight, strawworm, swallowwort, tallowweed, throwwort, viewworthy, whitlowwort, willowware, willowweed, willowworm, willowwort, windowward, windowwards, windowwise, yawweed, yellowware, yellowweed, yellowwood, yellowwort, Cirkewwa (city in Malta), and Tsawwassen (city in Canada), Oewwgger (island in Indonesia).


XX does not occur in any words found in ordinary dictionaries. However, W3 has XX-DISEASE and the OED has WAXXEN (an old form of the verb, to wax, to increase in size). Proper nouns containing xx include EXXON, FOXX, MAXXAM, BEXXAR (a therapeutic antibody), and LEXXEL and VIOXX (new prescription drugs). ZAXXON was a popular arcade game in the 1980s [Fred Schneider]. According to an article in Time, the name Exxon was chosen partly because it meant nothing in any language and the article reported researchers concluded that XX occurs in no language. However, the double X is common in the Maltese language.


YY occurs in AL FAYYUM, AL-UBAYYID, AYYUBID, CUBBYYEW, DUBAYY, FAYYUM, GAYYOU, GROZNYY (variant of Grozny), HAYYAN, IYYAR (an alternate spelling of Iyar, a month in the Jewish calendar), JABIR IBN HAYYAN, KHAYYAM, KRYVYY RIH, KRYVYY ROG (a city in Ukraine), MAYYALI, NABEREZHNYYE CHELNY (an alternate spelling for the name of a Russian port), OMAYYAD or UMAYYAD, PIYYUT (a liturgical poem in Judaism), SAYYID (a descendant of Muhammad through Hussein), SNARLEYYOW (slang for «dog»; found in W2), YABLONOVYY (a Russian mountain range), and ZAKIYYA (an alternate spelling for a female given name.)

In addition, in the American Heritage Dictionary on CD-ROM, BODYBUILDER is misspelled as BODYYBUILDER.

The word «honcho» comes from a Japanese word meaning «squad leader» and first came into usage in the English language during the American occupation of Japan following World War II.

The word «set» has the highest number of separate definitions in the English Language (192 definitions according to the Oxford English Dictionary.)


The word «assassination» was invented by Shakespeare.


The word «coach» is derived from the village of Kocs, Hungary, where coaches were invented and first used.


The word «karate» means «empty hand.»


The word «samba» means «to rub navels together.»


The word gargoyle comes down from the Old French: gargouille, meaning throat or gullet. This is also the origin of the word gargle. The word describes the sound produced as water passes the throat and mixes with air. In early architecture, gargoyles were decorative creatures on the drains of cathedrals.


The word ‘news’ did not come about because it was the plural of ‘new.’ It came from the first letters of the words North, East, West and South. This was because information was being gathered from all different directions.


The word quisling comes from the name of Major Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian who collaborated with the Germans during their occupation of Norway. The word now means «traitor.»


The world’s largest alphabet is Cambodian, with 74 letters.


The world’s most widely spoken language is the Mandarin dialect of Chinese, with 500 million speakers.

«Aroma therapy» is a term coined by French chemist Renéé Maurice Gattefosséé in the 1920′s to describe the practice of using essential oils taken from plants, flowers roots, seeds, etc. in healing.

«Kemo Sabe» means «soggy shrub» in Navajo.

«Long in the tooth,» meaning «old,» was originally used to describe horses. As horses age, their gums recede, giving the impression that their teeth are growing. The longer the teeth look, the older the horse.

«Ough» can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: «A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

«Rhythms» is the longest English word without vowels.

«Second string,» meaning «replacement or backup,» comes from the middle ages. An archer always carried a second string in case the one on his bow broke.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple .

Los prejuicios lingüísticos

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En el mundo hispanohablante no es raro escuchar expresiones como: «los andaluces hablan mal el castellano», «en México, sólo el español es una lengua, lo demás son dialectos (refiriéndose a las lenguas indígenas)», «el mejor castellano, además del hablado en la España imperial, fue el de la Ciudad de México o el de la ciudad de Lima», «el italiano, el inglés y el español pasaron a la categoría de lenguas (dejando de ser dialectos) cuando Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare y Miguel de Cervantes publicaron sus obras cumbre respectivas». Tampoco es raro que se diga que el mejor español actual del mundo se habla en Bogotá, o en Lima, o en Santiago, o en Madrid, o en Valladolid.

Tal clase de expresiones, no sólo ocurre en los países de habla hispana, existen en todo el mundo. Incluso podríamos aventurarnos a decir, que han tenido lugar desde que el ser humano habita como tal en el planeta Tierra.

Antes de rebatir las expresiones, imaginemos que nos remontamos a tiempos prehistóricos, donde tenemos la oportunidad de presenciar el desarrollo de una comunidad humana relativamente aislada. Evidentemente, este grupo humano tendría organización social, un sistema de creencias, lengua, es decir, cultura. Veamos lo que ocurriría si en un momento dado tuviera contacto con otras comunidades.

Lenguas dominantes y dominadas

La lengua, es un producto cultural, y como tal, otorga identidad a la comunidad que la habla. En el momento en que esta comunidad tuviera contacto con otras cuya lengua fuera distinta, sus miembros seguramente pensarían en lo extrañas e incorrectas que son las otras formas de hablar y las calificarían como burdas o bárbaras. Es decir, cada comunidad estaría segura de que su lengua es la correcta.

Si una de estas comunidades vecinas comenzara a sobresalir debido a éxitos económicos, políticos y militares, tendría la capacidad de invadir militarmente ‒o económicamente‒ al resto para seguir expandiendo su poder. El incipiente control que dicha comunidad pudiera ejercer sobre el resto, permitiría la paulatina imposición de su lengua. Al cabo de un tiempo, la lengua dominante ejercería una fuerza y prestigio tales, que una gran parte de la población conquistada se vería obligada a abandonar sus lenguas nativas por la dominante. Esto pondría en peligro de muerte a las lenguas avasalladas (en el caso de que alguna lengua dominada pudiera sobrevivir, tendría que soportar la enorme presión de la lengua dominante).

Nuestro hipotético «imperio» podría convertirse en nación en el momento en que las comunidades conquistadas fueran en gran parte asimiladas. Si tal imperio fuera demasiado grande como para mantener una cierta homogeneidad cultural y lingüística, más adelante podría ocurrir una fragmentación en varios estados ‒o reinos‒. Entonces, la lengua de los territorios divididos podría evolucionar de manera independiente, siendo alta la posibilidad de diferenciarse cada vez más con el paso de los siglos.

Si además del imperio descrito, hubieran surgido otros más, sin duda se habría dado una feroz competencia (económica, militar, cultural ‒por lo tanto, lingüística‒) entre ellos. De nuevo, los pueblos imperiales habrían percibido como bárbaras al resto de las lenguas dominantes (peor calificación tendrían las lenguas bajo dominación). Sólo en tiempos de paz, la «salud» de dichas lenguas sería cabal, expandiéndose en regiones económica y militarmente más débiles. El prestigio de estas lenguas se incrementaría tanto como la sofisticación cultural de sus pueblos (los excedentes económicos permiten una clase social con el tiempo suficiente para cultivar el arte, la ciencia, la tecnología).

El desarrollo de estos hipotéticos imperios (podríamos pensar en los imperios helénico y romano; español y portugués; inglés y francés) nos permite observar que fue el éxito militar, político y económico lo que permitió que sus respectivas lenguas se impusieran en las comunidades menos desarrolladas, no así, la supuesta “superioridad” intrínseca de tales lenguas. Todas las lenguas del mundo han tenido (o tienen) el potencial de expandirse si tienen como vehículo una poderosa economía o una capacidad militar significativa.

Las lenguas, ni superiores ni inferiores

Hasta aquí, podríamos concluir que no hay lenguas superiores ni inferiores, sólo diferentes; que el lenguaje es una capacidad innata de la especie homo sapiens sapiens ; que la lengua no hace la cultura, sino la cultura hace la lengua (parafraseando al gran antropólogo Claude Lévi-Strauss). Claro, habría quienes podrían objetar que sólo hay algunas lenguas que tienen escritura. Pero si tomamos en cuenta que desde su invención sólo ha representado mucho menos del 3 % del tiempo total (unos 200 mil años) que la humanidad ha estado sobre la Tierra, resulta irrelevante tal hecho. Todas las lenguas tienen el potencial de generar una escritura (o de prescindir de ella si ya la tienen).

Las expresiones del inicio del texto, muestran que, a pesar del enorme avance de algunas ciencias como la antropología o la lingüística, abundan prejuicios como el de la supuesta superioridad/inferioridad de las lenguas. Tales prejuicios suelen ser difíciles de erradicar debido a la identidad que otorga la cosmovisión (conjunto de creencias que permiten analizar y reconocer la realidad a partir de la propia) que comparten los habitantes de una determinada comunidad, en donde lo otro ‒o lo diferente‒ puede ser sutilmente rechazado.

Ante tal panorama, es importante que los científicos sociales realicen un trabajo divulgativo eficaz que fomente la reflexión sobre el valor de la diversidad cultural en el mundo. De esta manera, se sentarían las bases suficientes para que la población en general reconozca y combata los prejuicios lingüísticos en lugar de seguirlos transmitiendo.

Combatiendo los prejuicios lingüísticos

En el momento en el que se entienda que un sistema lingüístico como la lengua inglesa o francesa está en el mismo nivel que el záparo (Perú, Ecuador) o el burji (Etiopía, Kenia), podríamos hablar de que más de la mitad de las 6 mil lenguas existentes en el mundo ‒y que están en peligro de extinción‒ tendrían una mayor esperanza de vida. Y por supuesto, es importante hacer un llamado a antropólogos y lingüistas para que rebatan con mayor firmeza a pensadores ‒por más brillantes que parezcan ser‒ que siguen embebidos en una ideología que legitima acciones imperialistas en el mundo.

Como un ejemplo, el filósofo y pedagogo español José Antonio Marina ha utilizado como referencia en dos de sus libros (‘La selva del lenguaje’ ‒1998‒ y ‘Las culturas fracasadas. El talento y la estupidez de las sociedades’ ‒2010‒) unas conclusiones de alguien llamado C. Rule (al parecer, las publicó en 1967) quien afirma que los nativos del desierto de Kalahari poseen un vocabulario de 80 palabras. Dicho trabajo le ha servido de base para afirmar que existen «lenguas primitivas» que no han «evolucionado».

Posteriormente, el lingüista español Juan Carlos Moreno Cabrera (en su libro ‘La dignidad e igualdad de las lenguas. Crítica de la discriminación lingüística’, 2000) evidenció que tal descripción de C. Rule era prejuiciosa, e incluso colocó una nota donde se refiere al libro de J. A. Marina de 1998. Vale la pena colocar un fragmento de lo que Juan Carlos Moreno Cabrera escribió:

… No hace falta ir al desierto de Kalahari para comprender que estos nativos tienen palabras sobre las partes del cuerpo humano, de la cara, de los órganos vitales del ser humano; tienen nombres para las cosas de su entorno físico que incluyen nombres de animales, de plantas, de accidentes geográficos, de fenómenos naturales; tienen palabras para su historia, sus fantasías, sus sueños, sus necesidades, sus temores, sus sentimientos. No hay lenguas que tengan sólo ochenta palabras… A C. Rule habría que decirle que el diccionario de bosquimano (Bleek, 1956) tiene 773 páginas, en las que con seguridad se incluyen más de ochenta palabras.

Asimismo, el lingüista británico David Crystal en su libro ‘La muerte de las lenguas’ (2001), también se refirió al trabajo de C. Rule como no válido científicamente. Ante tan contundente análisis lingüístico, ¿por qué el erudito J. A. Marina ha seguido utilizando (lo hizo en su libro que publicó en 2010) tal trabajo como apoyo? Me parece evidente que ante todo, ha querido imponer su ideología sobre los estudios científicos que se realizan desde hace tiempo.

Después de esta serie de reflexiones, podemos responder a las expresiones que coloqué al comienzo del texto.

Una lengua no adquiere categoría de lengua por su obra literaria. Tenga o no escritura, es una lengua por sí misma.

Los dialectos son variedades lingüísticas de una misma lengua, es decir, la lengua española tiene el dialecto andaluz, castellano, peruano, argentino, cubano, entre otros más.

Evidentemente, no hay un mejor o peor español en el mundo hispanohablante, como sistemas lingüísticos, están todos en un mismo nivel (como sucede con las casi 6 mil lenguas que existen en el mundo).

Y por supuesto, no hay que perder de vista que al morir una lengua, se pierde para siempre una forma de ver y expresar el mundo. La diversidad lingüística es una riqueza cultural de toda la humanidad.

La Selva del Lenguaje, José Antonio Marina, Anagrama, 1998.

Las Culturas Fracasadas. El talento y la Estupidez de las Sociedades. José Antonio Marina, Anagrama, 2010.

La dignidad e igualdad de las lenguas. Crítica de la discriminación lingüística, Juan Carlos Moreno Cabrera, Alianza Editorial, 2004.

La muerte de las lenguas, David Crystal, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Here are some interesting facts you won’t be able to hear on our show!

«Fortnight» is a contraction of «fourteen nights.» In the US «two weeks» is more commonly used.

A bathometer is an instrument for indicating the depth of the sea beneath a moving vessel.

A ‘jiffy’ is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A Sphygmomanometer measures blood pressure.

A typical lightning bolt is two to four inches wide and two miles long.

A wind with a speed of 74 miles or more is designated a hurricane.

Any month that starts on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th in it.

At 4,145 miles, the Nile River is the longest in the world.

Each unit on the Richter Scale is equivalent to a power factor of about 32. So a 6 is 32 times more powerful than a 5!

Easter is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after March 21.

England and the American colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar on September 14th, 1752. 11 days disappeared.

Flying from London to New York by Concord, due to the time zones crossed, you can arrive 2 hours before you leave.

If the sun stopped shining suddenly, it would take eight minutes for people on earth to be aware of the fact.

If you add up the numbers 1-100 consecutively (1+2+3+4+5 etc) the total is 5050.

In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 25.8 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.

Light travels at the rate of 186,200 miles a second.

More than 99.9% of all the animal species that have ever lived on earth were extinct before the coming of man.

Nearly 50% of all bank robberies take place on Friday.

Ten inches of snow equals one inch of rain in water content.

The anemometer is an instrument which measures the force, velocity, or pressure of the wind.

The base of the Great Pyramid of Egypt is large enough to cover 10 football fields.

The greatest snowfall ever in a single storm was 189 inches at the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in February, 1959.

The Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582 AD, and was adopted by Great Britain and the English colonies in 1752.

The highest point of the earth, with an elevation of 29,141 feet, is the top of Mt. Everest in Tibet.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the continental US was 134 degrees on July 10, 1913 in Death Valley, California.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the world was 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit at El Azizia, Lybia, on September 13, 1922.

The highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela, has a total drop of 3,121 feet.

The linen bandages that were used to wrap Egyptian mummies averaged 1,000 yards in length.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in the world was 129 degrees below 0 at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

The metal instrument used in shoe stores to measure feet is called the Brannock device.

The monastic hours are matins, lauds, prime, tierce, sext, nones, vespers and compline.

The most snow accumulation in a one-day period was 75.8 inches at Silver Lake, Colorado, in April 1921.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in 1978 that it would alternate men’s and women’s names in the naming of hurricanes. It was seen as an attempt at fair play. Hurricanes had been named for women for years, until NOAA succumbed to pressure from women’s groups who were demanding that Atlantic storms be given unisex names.

The world’s first speed limit regulation was in England in 1903. It was 20 mph.

The wristwatch was invented in 1904 by Louis Cartier.

There are 31,557,600 seconds in a year.

Though it goes to 10, 9 is estimated to be the point of total tectonic destruction from an earthquake (2 is the smallest that can be felt unaided.)

Married with Children is the longest running sitcom.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

Approximately 2,300 children are reported missing each day.

When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home, the stadium becomes the third largest city.

Sweat glands can produce up to three gallons of sweat each day.

Safe Ride closes at 11:00 p.m. Smart.

Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Hot fudge has no fudge – it’s mostly corn syrup.

One in ten Americans have spent at least one night in jail.

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

John Lennon’s first girlfriend’s name was Thelma Pickles.

There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

Hummingbirds cannot walk.

A rat can last longer without water than a camel.

There are more nutrients in the cornflake package itself than there are in the actual cornflakes.

Earth is the only planet not named after a god.

If you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will keep floating to the top and sinking to the bottom.

Non-dairy creamer is flammable.

Snails can sleep for three years without eating.

The launching mechanism of a carrier ship that helps planes take off could throw a pickup truck over a mile.

Almonds are members of the peach family.

Acupuncture was first used as a medical treatment in 2700 BC by Chinese emperor Shen-Nung.

Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.

At the height of its power, in 400 BC, the Greek city of Sparta had 25,000 citizens and 500,000 slaves.

Bock’s Car was the name of the B-29 Bomber that dropped the Atom Bomb on Nagasaki.

Britain’s present royal family was originally named Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The name was changed in 1917, during WW1 because of German connotations. The name Windsor was suggested by one of the staff. At the same time the Battenberg family name of the cousins to the Windsors was changed into
Mountbatten.

Canada declared national beauty contests canceled as of 1992, claiming they were degrading to women.

Captain Cook lost 41 of his 98 crew to scurvy (a lack of vitamin C) on his first voyage to the South Pacific in 1768. By 1795 the importance of eating citrus was realized, and lemon juice was issued on all British Navy ships.

Chicago’s Lincoln Park was created in 1864. The original 120 acre cemetery had most of its graves removed and was expanded to more than 1000 acres for recreational use.

Christmas became a national holiday in the US in 1890.

During the US Civil war, 200,000 blacks served in the Union Army; 38,000 gave their lives; 22 won the Medal of Honor.

Everyone in the Middle Ages believed — as Aristotle had — that the heart was the seat of intelligence.

Former President Cleveland defeated incumbent Benjamin Harrison in 1892, becoming the first (and, to date, only) chief executive to win non-consecutive terms to the White House.

Fourteenth century physicians didn’t know what caused the plague, but they knew it was contagious. As a result they wore an early kind of bioprotective suit which included a large beaked head piece. The beak of the head piece, which made them look like large birds, was filled with vinegar, sweet oils and other strong smelling compounds to counteract the stench of the dead and dying plague victims.

From the Middle Ages up until the end of the 19th century, barbers performed a number of medical duties including bloodletting, wound treatment, dentistry, minor operations and bone-setting. The barber’s striped red pole originated in the Middle Ages, when it was a staff the patient would grip while the barber bled the patient.

Grand Rapids, Michigan was the 1st US city to fluoridate its water in 1945.

In 1810 US population was 7,239,881. Black population at 1,377,808 was 19%. In 1969 US population reached 200 million.

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1892, Italy raised the minimum age for marriage for girls — to 12.

In 1947, Toys for Tots started making the holidays a little happier for children by organizing its first Christmas toy drive for needy youngsters.

In England and the American colonies they year 1752 only had 354 days. In that year, the type of calendar was changed, and 11 days were lost.

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it — English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Drive on parkways and park on driveways? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Even More FactsYou Might Not Know:

More than 20,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing in action in the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. This was the bloodiest one-day fight during the Civil War.

Napoleon took 14,000 French decrees and simplified them into a unified set of 7 laws. This was the first time in modern history that a nation’s laws applied equally to all citizens. Napoleon’s 7 laws are so impressive that by 1960 more than 70 governments had patterned their own laws after them or used them verbatim.

Nevada was the first state to sanction the use of the gas chamber, and the first execution by lethal gas took place in February, 1924.

New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras celebration was held in February, 1826.

New York’s first St. Patrick’s day parade was held on March 17, 1762.

Of the 262 men who have held the title of pope, 33 have died by violence.

On April 12, 1938, the state of New York passed a law requiring medical tests for marriage license applicants, the first state to do so.

On August sixth, 1945, during World War Two, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing an estimated 140,000 people in the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare.

On Dec. 10th 1901 the 1st Nobel prizes were awarded. Literature — Rene Sully-Prudhomme; Physiology — Emil von Behring; Chemistry — Jacobus van’t Hoff; Physics — Wilhelm Roentgen; Peace — Jean Henri Dunant Frederic Passy.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union.

On June 26th, 1945, the charter of the United Nations was signed by 50 countries in San Francisco. (The text of the charter was in five languages: Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.)

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn’t added until 5 years later.

President George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart in 1782. It’s a decoration to recognize merit in enlisted men and non-commissioned officers.

President Lincoln proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1863.

Richard Nixon was the 1st US president to visit China in February, 1972.

Seven of the eight US presidents who have died in office — either through illness or assassination — were elected at precisely 20-year intervals.

The «Spruce Goose» flew on November 2, 1947, for one mile, at a maximum altitude of 70 feet. Built by Howard Hughes, it is the largest aircraft ever built, the 140-ton eight-engine seaplane, made of birch, has a wingspan of 320 feet. It was built as a prototype troop transport. Rejected by the Pentagon, Hughes put the plane into storage, never to be flown again.

The 1st 20 African slaves were brought to the US, to the colony of Virginia in 1619, by a Dutch ship.

The 1st nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, commissioned by the United States Navy in 1954, made her maiden voyage on Jan. 17, 1955.

The 1st US federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. was in 1986.

The 1st US federal legislation prohibiting narcotics (opium) was enacted in 1909.

The 1st US federal penitentiary building was completed at Leavenworth, Kansas in 1906.

The 1st US Minimum Wage Law was instituted in 1938. The minimum wage was
25 cents per hour.

The ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone.

The Black Death reduced the population of Europe by one third in the period from 1347 to 1351.

The dollar was established as the official currency of the US in 1785.

The first coin minted in the United States was a silver dollar. It was issued on October 15, 1794.

The first country to abolish capital punishment was Austria in 1787.

The first losing candidate in a US presidential election was Thomas Jefferson. He lost to John Adams. George Washington had been unopposed.

The first modern Olympiad was held in Athens in 1896. 484 contestants from 13 nations participated.

The first US Marines wore high leather collars to protect their necks from sabres, hence the name «leathernecks.»

The first-known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 BC.

The House of Lancaster, symbolized by the red rose, won England’s ‘War of the Roses.’

The Hundred Year War actually lasted 116 years (1337 to 1453).

The longest reigning monarch in history was Pepi II, who ruled Egypt for 90 years; 2566 to 2476 BC. The second longest was France’s Louis XIV, who ruled for 72 years, 1643 to 1715.

The Miss America Contest was created in Atlantic City in 1921 with the purpose of extending the tourist season beyond Labor Day.

The name of the first airplane flown at Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers, on December 17, 1903, was Bird of Prey.

The only repealed amendment to the US Constitution deals with the prohibition of alcohol.

The peace symbol was created in 1958 as a nuclear disarmament symbol by the Direct Action Committee, and was first shown that year at peace marches in England. The symbol is a composite of the semaphore signals N and D, representing nuclear disarmament.

The Republic of Israel was established April 23, 1948.

The seven wonders of the ancient world were:
1. Egyptian Pyramids at Giza.
2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia.
4. Colossus of Rhodes — or huge bronze statue near the Harbor of Rhodes that honored the sun god Helios.
5. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
6. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
7. Lighthouse at Alexandria.

The shortest war on record was fought between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.

The supersonic Concorde jet made its first trial flight on January 1, 1969.

The Titanic was the first ship to use the SOS signal. It was adopted as the international signal for distress in 1912, and the Titanic struck the iceberg in April of that year.

The total number of Americans killed in the Civil War is greater than the combined total of Americans killed in all other wars.

The Union ironclad, Monitor, was the first U.S. ship to have a flush toilet.

The USSR set off the largest nuclear explosion in history, detonating a 50 megaton bomb (2600 times the Hiroshima bomb) in an atmospheric test over the Novaya Zemla Islands, October 30 1961.

The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

The White House, in Washington DC, was originally gray, the color of the sandstone from which it was built. After the War of 1812, during which it had been burned by Canadian troops, the outside walls were painted white to hide the smoke stains.

The worldwide «Spanish Flu» epidemic which broke out in 1918 killed more than 30 million people in less than a year’s time.

There are more statues of Sacajewa, Lewis & Clark’s female Indian guide, in the United States than any other person.

Until 1965, driving was done on the left-hand side on roads in Sweden. The conversion to right-hand was done on a weekday at 5 p.m. All traffic stopped as people switched sides. This time and day were chosen to prevent accidents where drivers would have gotten up in the morning and been too sleepy to realize
‘this’ was the day of the changeover.

Vermont, admitted as the 14th state in 1791, was the 1st addition to the original 13 colonies.

Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote.

Yellowstone is the world’s 1st national park. It was dedicated in 1872.

A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60 mph.

A fetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.

A fingernail or toenail takes about 6 months to grow from base to tip.

A human being loses an average of 40 to 100 strands of hair a day.

A person will die from total lack of sleep sooner than from starvation. Death will occur in about 10 days without sleep, while starvation can take much longer.

A sneeze can exceed the speed of 100 mph.

According to German researchers, the risk of heart attack is higher on Monday than any other day of the week.

After spending hours working at a computer display, look at a blank piece of
white paper. It will probably appear pink.

An average human drinks about 16, 000 gallons of water in a lifetime.

An average human scalp has 100,000 hairs.

An average person uses the bathroom 6 times per day.

Babies are born with 300 bones, but by adulthood we have only 206 in our bodies.

Beards are the fastest growing hairs on the human body. If the average man never trimmed his beard, it would grow to nearly 30 feet long in his lifetime.

Blondes have more hair than dark-haired people.

By age sixty, most people have lost half of their taste buds.

By the time you turn 70, your heart will have beat some two-and-a-half billion times (figuring on an average of 70 beats per minute.)

Each square inch of human skin consists of twenty feet of blood vessels.

Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell.

Every person has a unique tongue print.

Every square inch of the human body has an average of 32 million bacteria on it.

Every time you lick a stamp, you’re consuming 1/10 of a calorie.

Fingernails grow faster than toenails.

Fingerprints serve a function — they provide traction for the fingers to grasp things.

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour — about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin.

Humans shed and regrow outer skin cells about every 27 days — almost 1,000 new skins in a lifetime.

If it were removed from the body, the small intestine would stretch to a length of 22 feet.

If you are locked in a completely sealed room, you will die of carbon dioxide poisoning first before you will die of oxygen deprivation.

If you go blind in one eye, you’ll only lose about one-fifth of your vision (but all your depth perception.)

In a lifetime the average US resident eats more than 50 tons of food and drinks more than 13,000 gallons of liquid.

In the late 19th century, millions of human mummies were used as fuel for locomotives in Egypt where wood and coal was scarce, but mummies were plentiful.

It takes 17 muscles to smile — 43 to frown.

Jaw muscles can provide about 200 pounds of force to bring the back teeth together for chewing.

Lab tests can detect traces of alcohol in urine six to 12 hours after a person has stopped drinking.

Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system.

Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day.

The average human body contains enough: iron to make a 3 inch nail, sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make 7 bars of soap, phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten-gallon tank.

The average human produces 25,000 quarts of spit in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.

The average person releases nearly a pint of intestinal gas by flatulence every day. Most is due to swallowed air. The rest is from fermentation of undigested food.

The body’s largest internal organ is the small intestine at an average length of 20 feet

The feet account for one quarter of all the human bodies’ bones.

The human body has enough fat to produce 7 bars of soap.

The human body has over 600 muscles, 40% of the body’s weight.

The human brain is about 85% water.

The largest cell in the human body is the female ovum, or egg cell. It is about 1/180 inch in diameter. The smallest cell in the human body is the male sperm. It takes about 175,000 sperm cells to weigh as much as a single egg cell.

The largest cell in the human body is the female reproductive cell, the ovum. The smallest is the male sperm.

The largest human organ is the skin, with a surface area of about 25 square feet.

The left lung is smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart.

The little lump of flesh just forward of your ear canal, right next to your temple, is called a tragus.

The longest muscle in the human body is the sartorius. This narrow muscle of the thigh passes obliquely across the front of the thigh and helps rotate the leg to the position assumed in sitting cross-legged. Its name is a derivation of the adjective «sartorial,» a reference to what was the traditional cross-legged position of tailors (or «sartors») at work.

The most common blood type in the world is Type O. The rarest, Type A-H, has been found in less than a dozen people since the type was discovered.

The Neanderthal’s brain was bigger than yours is.

The only bone in the human body not connected to another is the hyoid, a V-shaped bone located at the base of the tongue between the mandible and the voice box. Its function is to support the tongue and its muscles.

The permanent teeth that erupt to replace their primary predecessors (baby teeth) are called succedaneous teeth.

The sound of a snore (up to 69 decibels) can be almost as loud as the noise of a pneumatic drill.

The tips of fingers and the soles of feet are covered by a thick, tough layer of skin called the stratum corneum.

There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.

Three-hundred-million cells die in the human body every minute.

Women burn fat more slowly than men, by a rate of about 50 calories a day.

Women’s hearts beat faster than men’s.



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