Wednesday, September 24, 2008

British Eyes, Asian Teeth

This has to be the most astute observation anyone's ever made to me:

"Brits are to teeth what Asians are to eyes."

That's Patrick Cox, who sent me this article about 'American v. British Teeth' in The BBC Magazine. If we Asians can be scientific and call it an epicanthal fold, the Brits most certainly have what could be called maxilofacial gold. (Thank you thank you I'm here all week...)

Patrick, by the way, has what for my money, is the best podcast out there on one of my most favorite subjects: language. PRI x The BBC's "World in Words" gives you the "hmph, I had no idea" feeling you love in books like "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers," or "The History of Names" (EDIT: It's actually "Names on the Land" by George R. Stewart) If you like reading wikis and other in-depth trivia, this podcast is a must-listen.

Let me elaborate.

I know a lot of people like myself, who get excited about etymologies and are particularly entertained by puns, and the history of words, and neologisms such as "maxilofacial gold." (Thank you thank you...)

But when you think about it, everything is a neologism. Some are older, but still...And rather than look at the world through the lens of politics or a philosophy of art, why NOT through the lens of populist linguistics?!

Here are some "hmph, interesting" tidbits from The World in Words:

Did you know Ghanaians are named after the day of the week they're born?
Do you know the taxonomy of IKEA products?
Know anyone named Defecacion? Patrick does! (err, he knows someone who knows someone...)

Anyway, go check out the podcast. Subscribe, join their Facebook network, etc etc.


Deborah said...

Anne--I love this! It backs up my own personal observations (which my family and friends are sick to death of hearing about) that actors on British TV are much more "normal" looking than US actors. The most famous Brits show up with bad hair, lumpy tummies, and wrinkles galore. How do they get away with it? I wonder. Why can't we all be like this and be happy with ourselves the way we are?? When I first came to Japan (when you were still a sparkle in your father's eye) I was astounded by the prominent eye teeth of Japanese "idol" singers. They also tended to have chubby calves poking out from their frilly dresses--and it was all considered "charming." Not you're overweight if your thighs meet when you put your feet together. Sheesh!

chanello said...