+
upworthy

linguistics

Pop Culture

Immigrants and travelers share their funniest language mistakes and it's a riot

Learning the nuances of another language takes time, patience and a great sense of humor.

Language barriers can be frustrating, but also so, so funny.

There are currently close to 7,000 languages being spoken around the world, which is a mind-blowing number since Americans are lucky if they speak two languages fluently. What that means, though, is that no matter where you're from, if you're going to go live in another country or visit for an extended period of time, you'll need to learn a new language.

However, it's not even that simple since even within the same language there can be huge dialect and colloquial differences. Meanings of words can be completely different from place to place, even when the language is technically the same. (Try using the term "fanny pack" in some English-speaking countries and you'll see some heads turn.)

Since we have not yet figured out the universal language thing, all of these linguistic differences make for some humbling and hilarious mix-ups as people try to communicate with and understand one another across language barriers.

This delightful little story from @ivadixit on X is a perfect example:

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Fascinating video explains why 'R' is sometimes considered a vowel in the English language

"'R' is an incredibly weird letter with so many different sounds and functions."

Video explains why "R" is sometimes considered a vowel.

If you went to elementary school in the United States, then you learned that vowels are "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y." All other letters of the alphabet are consonants and make a hard or soft sound depending on their placement around the vowel.

But apparently, our elementary school teachers may have missed a sometime-y vowel…and nobody puts "R" in the corner.

That was a terrible "Dirty Dancing" reference, but nonetheless, here we are looking at the English language with a collective "What the heck?" At no point in my native English-speaking life did I ever realize "R" could sometimes possess the characteristics of a vowel. But PBS said so, and they brought us "Sesame Street," so I'm inclined to believe them.

Erica Brozovsky, Ph.D. breaks down what makes a vowel and explores how the letter "R" in the English language fits that description in the PBS series "Otherwords."

Keep ReadingShow less

For many of us, the idea of interrupting someone when they're talking is almost always a no-no. Conversation means taking turns—listening while another person talks, taking some time to think about what they've said, and then responding accordingly. Interjecting before a person is finished speaking is seeing as "cutting them off" and perceived as rude.

While this perception may be part of the historically dominant Northern European culture in the U.S., it's not a universal thing. In fact, the opposite is true within many cultural groups.

TikToker Sari (@gaydhdgoddess) explained how conversing works in Northeastern Jewish culture, and how her being "an interrupty person" isn't actually a sign of rudeness, but rather a sign of active engagement in the conversation. This concept is called "cooperative overlapping," and while it may appear to be "interrupting" to an outside observer, it's a standard conversation style for people accustomed to it.

Keep ReadingShow less

A man raped me seven years ago.

I was left traumatized and suicidal and with a complex linguistic decision: What should I call myself?

For a long time, I avoided using the terms rape "victim" or "survivor." I simply said, "I was raped" or "a man raped me." But the experience of being raped forced its way into my identity, not just my history.

Keep ReadingShow less