January 28, 2006


In Shakespeare, 8598 words (abaissiez, abash, abatements, abates, abbeys, ..., zo, zodiac, zodiacs, zone, zwaggered) are used only once

TAXI is spelled the same way in eleven languages, according to Dixon: English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Czech, Slovak, and Portuguese. Jeff Volgyi reports it is also spelled the same way in Hungarian. G. Strauss reports it is also spelled the same way in Romanian. However, Emerson Werneck says that in Portuguese, taxi is actually spelled táxi.

Emerson points out that SAUNA is spelled the same way in nine languages: Finnish, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, and Danish. Readers of this page have reported it is also spelled the same way in Lithuanian, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, and Norwegian (although in Norwegian the word badstue is more commonly used). In Swedish, bastu, a short form of badstuga meaning (approximately) "bathing-hut," is more commonly used. [Juozas Rimas, Nikola Petrovic, Gabriel Ionita, Thor-Rune Fiskum, Andreas Engström].

Phil Smith writes, "Regarding the fact that 'sauna' is spelt the same in nine languages, in Japanese the word uses the katakana characters (used for words that have come into the language from other countries) and is spelt 'sa-u-na' too. This is unusual for katakana words, as they rarely match the original spelling, such as 'kamera', 'pasokon' (personal computer), 'apaato' (apartment) and 'sabiro' (suit, originating from the road name Saville Row in London, where tailors used to work)."

Dan Tilque has found that VETO is the same in at least 24 languages: Albanian, Azerbaijani, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, SerboCroatian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. In Hungarian it is spelled the same except for a diacritic. In Basque and Tagalog it's spelled 'beto' and in Polish it's 'weto'.

Jefferson B. Morris points out that www as an abbreviation for "World Wide Web" has 9 spoken syllables, whereas the term being abbreviated has only 3 or 4 spoken syllables. A similar occurrence is WWII for "World War II."

I wish I could post the link Im getting these from, but its too brilliant. I'll share tomorrow.


miken said...

I heard that the word 'Sack' or 'sak', meaning bag, sounded the same in the greatest number of different languages. The spelling varied, of course.

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