Language lessons across the UK & Ireland

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Brendan Davies

Movie Titles Lost in Translation


Fact: Superbad is called Supercool in Mexico, Argentina, and Peru.  It goes without saying that no one language translates word for word into another language and then back again without losing (or sometimes gaining) a new meaning along the way. This is true for Spanish, which shares a subject-verb-object word order with English. It is especially true for translations(…)

Could This be Hungary’s Greatest Invention?


  Fact: The Rubik’s cube is a Hungarian invention   When Erno Rubik first created the best-selling puzzle in history, he was not actually thinking about toys or making millions of dollars; rather, he was trying to solve a structural design conundrum: “How could the blocks move independently without falling apart?” This was his initial(…)

Desert Deserts, Rock of Rocks & Other Arabic Tautologies!


Fact: Sahara is an Arabic word that literally means “desert” Sahara, in fact, does mean “desert” in Arabic. Thus, one might say that Sahara Desert actually translates to “Desert Desert.” Oh, the foolish people who named this one, right? Wrong. If that were the case, then Mississippi River, or “Big River River,” the Connecticut River,(…)

The Real Little Mermaid Calls Copenhagen Home


Fact: Captivated by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” story, the founder of Carlsberg Breweries commissioned a statue in Copenhagen Harbour, which was unveiled in 1913. 
The most famous mermaid statue in the world sits upon a rock in Denmark’s Copenhagen Harbour, commissioned by Carlsberg Breweries owner Carl Jacobsen and unveiled in 1913. Indeed enamored(…)

Most Common Last Names in the UK: Does Yours Make the List?


Fact: There are over 30,000 John Smiths living in Britain According to The Research Alliance, a UK research company that bases their findings on recent census data, there are indeed over 30,000 men named John Smith living in the UK. In fact, according to the National Health Service Central Register, based on births between 1999 and(…)

And The Weirdest Name Award Goes to…Taco Monster!


Fact: There is a Dutch medical professional named Taco Monster.    Most Americans have heard the urban legend about twins named Lemonjello and Orangejello, which further internet research suggests might actually be the names of at least one set of twins in the US’s Deep South. One guy’s parents, however, appear to have taken the(…)

The Fashion of Norway’s Fiercest


Fact: Vikings did not have helmets with horns. This is true, if we are talking about Viking warriors. Most Viking warriors either wore no helmet at all, or they wore what history might refer to as a “biodegradable” helmet made of leather. While there is some historical and archaeological evidence suggesting that Viking-era religious leaders may(…)

From Outer Space with Love?


Fact: Russian scientists have predicted that humanity will encounter aliens by 2031. In June of 2011, top Russian astronomer Andrei Finkelstein was quoted as saying, “Life exists on other planets and we will find it within 20 years.” Believing that the laws of life – the rules by which organisms arise and reproduce on our(…)

The Pink Dolphins of the Amazon


Fact: There are pink dolphins in the Amazon River The largest of all freshwater dolphins in the world, the Amazon River Dolphin is either pale grey or light pink in color. It can attain a weight of 217 pounds and a length just shy of 8 feet for a mature female. Possessing a very long(…)

A Bum Deal: The Toilet-Themed Theme Park in South Korea


Fact: South Korea now has a toilet-themed park Indeed Suwon, South Korea, has boasted its very own Toilet Culture Exhibit Hall and Theme Park since July of 2012. Haewoojae, or “A Place of Sanctuary Where One Can Solve One’s Worries” initially started in 2007 as the world’s first documented toilet-shaped house. The brainchild of Sim(…)