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.
Alan Eyre is a familiar name to many Iranians. He's the US State Department's Persian-speaking spokesman. Fluent in Persian, Eyre can dole out centuries-old poems and proverbs that leave Persian speakers bewildered.
These days, the word "thug" is bound up in questions of racial discrimination in the United States. So it may be surprising that it's actually an Indian word that referred to a notorious group of 14th-century robbers and killers.
"Our American Cousin" was a British melodrama that poked fun at uncouth Americans. When it came to the United States, a rewritten version turned it into a farce that mocked pompous Brits. But for 150 years, no one wanted to laugh at the play Abraham Lincoln watched on the night he died.
Martin Luther is best known as the instigator of the Protestant Reformation, but his Bible translations used a form of conversational language that Germans had never before seen in print. It marked the beginning of modern German, which had never before been a unified language.
'China's Emily Dickinson' thrives along with a new generation of poets: Punk poets, micro-blogging poets and farm-girl poets. Annoyed traditionalists worry that poetry has become a little too popular and accessible. American poets may just look on in envy.
According to the latest US census data, nearly 80 percent of Americans speak only one language. But one state is taking a gamble on multilingualism in a big way: Utah. It's become a pioneer in foreign language learning, even as some residents are unhappy with the move.
There are plenty of people learning Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, and those numbers are growing. But those students typically learn the language to read old books, and it turns out trying to use it as a spoken language is a challenge.