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• "Dude" — an American emotion-free buffer zone...

• American women have adopted two speech peculiarities in the last few decades — "vocal fry" and "high rising terminal."...

• "Onder vier ogen," in Dutch, translates as "under four eyes." "Între patru ochi," in Romanian, translates as "between four eyes." The meaning is the same — between you, me, and these four walls.

• The Spanish and the Romanians, speaking two modern versions of Latin, use the same expression for "everybody." The Spanish, talking about how busy it is downtown, say "todo el mundo" is out — the whole world. The Romanians say "toată lumea" — the whole world. The folkway remains, though the languages have diverged.

• Recent linguistic development: Young Americans now begin many explanatory sentences with the word "so." — June 2010

• "I know you're speaking English, but I don't understand what you're saying," I learned early to say to a co-worker here in Cork.

• Magyar, the language of Hungarians, is non-Indo-European. But in a coincidence of phonetics, the Magyar "szia," which means both hello and good-bye, sounds almost exactly like "see ya." — May 2010

• "Buffalo are not amphibious."...