17 votes

What are your favorite fun/happy facts?

Mine is about my spirit animal.

Manatees have long been known as gentle giants, and somehow sailors once confused them with beautiful women. What fewer people know about manatees, is that they control their buoyancy with flatulance. Their whole life is floating around and eating seagrass. They get gassy and start to float up, so they let a few farts out to get back down to the seagrass. And you thought dolphins had life figured out.

14 comments

  1. [8]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    I like language-based stuff: The word "facetiously" has all of the vowels in order. When viewing a planetary body from space, the line that separates the lit part of the planet from the dark part...

    I like language-based stuff:

    The word "facetiously" has all of the vowels in order.

    When viewing a planetary body from space, the line that separates the lit part of the planet from the dark part is called the "terminator".

    There is a category of words called "contronyms" where, depending on the context in which they are used, a single word can take on opposite meanings (e.g. "I dusted the windowsill with a cloth" / "I dusted the cake with powdered sugar").

    The following sentence is grammatically correct and has meaning: "The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families." It is an example of a "garden path sentence" which is a sentence that is specifically designed to be misparsed by readers. (If you're having trouble with it, see the explanation here).

    16 votes
    1. [3]
      Turtle
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      More language facts: "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in English, meaning something like "The Buffalo New York buffalo (pl.) habitually...

      More language facts:

      • "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in English, meaning something like "The Buffalo New York buffalo (pl.) habitually bully the buffalo (pl.) which the Buffalo New York buffalo (pl.) habitually bully.
      • "Versus versus versus versus versus versus versus" is a grammatically correct sentence in Latin, meaning something like "the verse turned towards the other verses was turned toward the other verses".
      • "Vicious" is the adjectival form of "vice".
      • "Egregious" once meant outstandingly good. It arrived at its current meaning when it became in vogue to use it sarcastically.
      • The (archaic) English words for the day after tomorrow and the day before yesterday are "overmorrow" and "ereyesterday", respectively. These are much more elegant, IMO.
      • The German and French word for tuxedo is "smoking"
      • A hapax legomenon is a word that only occurs once in a text, a body of work, or a language. For example, the word "honorificabilitudinitatibus", the state of being able to achieve honor, occurs exactly once in the works of Shakespeare, in Love's Labour Lost.
      • "Honorificabilitudinitatibus" is also the longest word in English with alternating vowels and consonants.
      • "Glimmer, gleam, glisten, glitter, etc.", all begin with the prefix "gl", and have something to do with shimmering, shining, light, etc. It would appear that the prefix itself is what conveys this meaning, as "immer, eam, isten, itter, etc." certainly do not. This is called a "phonestheme", a cluster of arbitrary sounds that appears in multiple words, and indicates a specific conceptual idea. Other examples are "sh" (shimmer, shine, sheen), "sl" (slip, slide, slime, slick, slug), and "sn" (snarl, snout, snort, snot).
      • A pseudo-anglicism is a word or phrase in another language that is borrowed from English elements but does not itself exist in English. Examples include the German words Handy "phone", Beamer " projector", and Wellness "Spa".
      • In German, Gift means poison, though it shares the same etymological origin as the English.
      • In Orwell's constructed language "Newspeak", the antonym of any word can be formed via the addition of the prefix "un", e.g. unbig, untall. This feature was borrowed from the constructed language "Esperanto", which utilizes a similar construction with the prefix "mal", e.g. malgranda "small", malalta "short".
      • The common Easter greeting "He is risen" uses an archaic perfect tense construction in which the verb "to be" is the auxiliary verb rather than "to have", because "to rise" is a verb of motion, and in the Proto-Germanic language from which English stems, "to be" was used with motion verbs. This feature is still present in other modern Germanic languages such as German, e.g. er ist gekommen, literally translated, he is come (he came). In modern English the phrase would be "He has risen". Another famous example is "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds" from the Bhagavad Gita.
      • The Latin abbreviations for the names "Gaius" and "Gnaeus" are C. and Cn. respectively. This is because the Etruscans, from whom the Romans initially adopted their writing system, lacked a "guh" sound and consequently a letter to represent it, so when the abbreviations were standardized, the names were spelled Caius and Cnaeus, and their respective abbreviations remained even once the Romans developed the G.
      • The ampersand symbol & is a cursive form of the Latin et meaning "and". It was also once thought of as a letter of the alphabet.

      Will update if I think of any more.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        Pistos
        Link Parent
        Do you have a blog or a podcast or anything? You should consider it, if not. Would subscribe.

        Do you have a blog or a podcast or anything? You should consider it, if not. Would subscribe.

        5 votes
        1. Turtle
          Link Parent
          Ha, I appreciate it. I don't really have any qualifications (yet) though, or any time really to do such a thing. Maybe I'll do a YouTube channel someday, who knows.

          Ha, I appreciate it. I don't really have any qualifications (yet) though, or any time really to do such a thing. Maybe I'll do a YouTube channel someday, who knows.

          2 votes
    2. Diet_Coke
      Link Parent
      My favorite fun language fact is that religious and sacrilegious don't share an etymology

      My favorite fun language fact is that religious and sacrilegious don't share an etymology

      7 votes
    3. [3]
      pseudolobster
      Link Parent
      I'm not quite sure how this differs from a sentence like colourless green ideas sleep furiously, other than it might take longer to realize it's nonsense?

      The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families." It is an example of a "garden path sentence"

      I'm not quite sure how this differs from a sentence like colourless green ideas sleep furiously, other than it might take longer to realize it's nonsense?

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It's slightly different. The example you gave is specifically meaningless when parsed correctly, while a garden path sentence appears meaningless until it is parsed correctly. EDIT: In case anyone...

        It's slightly different. The example you gave is specifically meaningless when parsed correctly, while a garden path sentence appears meaningless until it is parsed correctly.


        EDIT: In case anyone is having trouble seeing it in my example, read the sentence with "complex" as a noun and "houses" as a verb.

        The sentence intentionally misleads you because most readers first parse "complex" as an adjective and "houses" as a noun, making "married" the verb of the sentence, which doesn't make any sense and which causes the structure of the sentence to fall apart if you keep reading it that way.

        It's a fun little optical illusion of grammar.

        10 votes
        1. pseudolobster
          Link Parent
          Shit, I just finally parsed it correctly. Complex is a noun. At first I just thought it was just word salad arranged in such a way it takes a long time to figure out, ie: there are a lot of...

          Shit, I just finally parsed it correctly. Complex is a noun. At first I just thought it was just word salad arranged in such a way it takes a long time to figure out, ie: there are a lot of syntactically correct ways of starting the sentence, but none of them pan out.

          5 votes
  2. DougM
    Link
    The distance of the first flight by the Wright brothers was less than the length of the C-5 Galaxy cargo floor.

    The distance of the first flight by the Wright brothers was less than the length of the C-5 Galaxy cargo floor.

    7 votes
  3. Pistos
    Link
    (Not sure this is a fact, but...) Legend has it that Franz Schubert had composed his Fantasia in F Minor (a duet; four hands, one piano) with a lady in mind, whom he liked (loved?). In one...

    (Not sure this is a fact, but...) Legend has it that Franz Schubert had composed his Fantasia in F Minor (a duet; four hands, one piano) with a lady in mind, whom he liked (loved?). In one section, he deliberately composed the notes to meet or sometimes cross over. In order to play the notes, the hands of the two players have to come into contact. So, he deliberately wrote that part in such a way as to be able to touch the hand of the girl he liked.

    I forget where exactly in the piece this happens, but I believe it's in the contrapuntal section from bars 474 to 512.

    7 votes
  4. [4]
    mrbig
    Link
    You may think you saw your dog have an erection, but you’re probably wrong. A dogs full erection is a sight to be seen and honestly quite humbly. A blue whale's penis is longer than a human being...

    You may think you saw your dog have an erection, but you’re probably wrong. A dogs full erection is a sight to be seen and honestly quite humbly.

    A blue whale's penis is longer than a human being – 10 feet (3 meters).

    The tortoise penis is a large disgusting pulsating bulb when “erect”. Don’t Google it (I know you will).

    I’m not sure these facts are happy, but I find them amusing.

    2 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Speaking of amusing: bananas are radioactive. Blew my mind when I first found out that one of my favorite fruits has a healthy-but-non-zero amount of a radioactive isotope.

      Speaking of amusing: bananas are radioactive. Blew my mind when I first found out that one of my favorite fruits has a healthy-but-non-zero amount of a radioactive isotope.

      5 votes
    2. [2]
      arp242
      Link Parent
      My girlfriend works as a vet, and apparently penis cancer is quite common for dogs. But to treat it, it has to come out, so she first has to masturbate the dog so it gets an erection.

      You may think you saw your dog have an erection, but you’re probably wrong. A dogs full erection is a sight to be seen and honestly quite humbly.

      My girlfriend works as a vet, and apparently penis cancer is quite common for dogs. But to treat it, it has to come out, so she first has to masturbate the dog so it gets an erection.

      3 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        You gotta do what you gotta do...

        You gotta do what you gotta do...

        1 vote