The Liar Paradox Is A Self-Referential Conundrum
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The liar paradox, also known as the liar sentence, states "this sentence is false." If that statement makes you go a little crazy, you're not the first one. The liar paradox first came about in ancient Greece, and philosophers have been puzzling over it ever since. It's even said that the gravestone of scholar Philetas of Cos, from the third century B.C.E., is engraved with the words "'Twas the Liar who made me die, And the bad nights caused thereby."
Wi-Fi Doesn't Actually Stand For Anything
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Considering how much you probably use Wi-Fi, it might be pretty shocking to realize you don't even have a clue what it means. It's wireless internet, sure, but where did that term come from? Surely the "Wi" part means wireless, and the "Fi" then must mean... err... Finternet? Surprise: Wi-Fi is a nonsense word that doesn't mean anything and doesn't stand for anything.
The Verb "Unfriended" Is Way Older Than Facebook
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After one too many rants on your Facebook feed, you may decide to unfriend your annoying aunt Helen once and for all. Unfriend, which means "to remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website," has become a commonly used verb in our vocabulary. But where did the term come from? According to Interesting Literature, the Middle English poem "Brut" by Layamon is the first known usage of both "muggle" and a form of "unfriend": "We sollen ... slean houre onfrendes and King Learwenden after Brenne." Here, the noun form of unfriend (though spelled slightly differently) delineates someone who is not a friend, but not necessarily an enemy either. It wasn't until the 17th century that "unfriend" was first used as a verb. Mark Zuckerberg can thank the late, great William Shakespeare.
The Norman Conquest Is Why Steak Is "Beef" and Not "Cow"
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If you've ever wondered why we call meat beef, pork, mutton, and venison instead of cow, pig, sheep, and deer, you can thank the lousy communication skills of a long dead Anglo-Saxon king. King Edward The Confessor died on January 5, 1066, and as he had no children, his brother-in-law Harold Godwin was quickly elected to succeed him. Problem was, Edward had apparently forgotten to tell anyone that he promised the throne to his first cousin once removed: William, Duke of Normandy. William was not happy about that.
Curious Idioms From Around The World
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Many idioms in English are so familiar to native speakers that we don't stop to think about how strange they are. "Cut the mustard." "Off your rocker." "Straight from the horse's mouth." It's the same in other languages. For example, in German, to say you're not seeing what everyone else can see, you'd say "Tomaten auf den Augen haben," or literally "you have tomatoes on your eyes." In French, the phrase "se regarder en chiens de faïence" literally translates as "to look at each other like earthenware dogs"—essentially, to look at each other with distrust. The Croatian version of "what goes around comes around" is "doće maca na vratanca," or "the pussy cat will come to the tiny door," and the Polish version of "were you born yesterday?" is "z choinki się urwałaś?" or "did you fall from a Christmas tree?" Tamil, a language spoken in some of India and Sri Lanka, has several water-themed idioms, including "to pour water over someone's head," or break off a relationship, and "show water to someone," or be someone's nemesis. Hear more interesting language quirks in the videos below.