In 2011, an accent quiz went viral on YouTube. People around the world started posting videos reading a corpus of words and answering a set of questions. Many of the vloggers weren't even native speakers of English. Where did this quiz come from and why did it go viral?
For centuries, Icelanders have looked backward to move forward with their language. When they need to come up with words for new technologies or ideas, they dredge up archaic terms — and try to talk the public into re-using them.
North Koreans may speak Korean, but not the kind they have to learn if they defect to the South. And even with a new smartphone app to guide them through South Korea's unfamiliar dialect, it's a tough and unnerving challenge.
We humans have been dropping "um," "uh" and other expressions of hesitation into our speech for a long time — maybe for as long as we've had language. More recently, linguists are noting a shift in usage across a number of Germanic languages from "uh" to "um."
French has long been the language of education in Haiti, despite the fact that few Haitians actually speak it. But while their native tongue, Creole, was once disdained as merely broken French, there's now a movement to make it the centerpiece of teaching on the island.
Fifty years ago, kids caught speaking French in Maine schools might be punished. Today, schools are teaching it to help young people regain their heritage, in a state where 20 percent have a Franco-American background.
Because the word's origins are murky, it's difficult to know just how insulting calling someone a "coonass" used to be. Today, some Cajuns view the word as an ethnic slur, while others have embraced it as a badge of honor.