Questions to Monsieur Internet: How Were Words Invented? Why Are Bananas Curved? and The Most Isolated Town on Earth
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
~ W.B. Yeats
How Were Words Invented?
This is a question I often asked my mother as a child, she told me many stories but could never really answer - and how to answer when a terribly frustrating thing for linguistic lovers is that words don't leave any fossils behind. It is very likely that language exists for over 100,000 years, yet we can only explore back about 7,000 years.
There are many theories about the invention of words, nonetheless, non is proved. The most accepted, however, is the one explaining that all tongues begun with onomatopoeias (words based on the sound made by the named thing) such as the Sumerian word ur meaning dog, the Sanskrit word for crow; kaka, and the English name for little chickens; peeps. All of them resembling the noise those animals make. With time the onomatopoeias got more complex and interwoven at the same time that more words got invented - this in periods of hundreds and thousands of years.
Shakespeare created at least 500 new words (including lonely, critic and hint), while modern English speakers add new ones at a rate of around 1,000 a year (blog, crowdfunding, airball, e-marketing, sudoku, twerk and Brexit).
What's The Most Isolated Town on Earth?
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is right at the middle of South America and Africa, somewhere in the ocean and 2,000 km away from the nearest village. It was first inhabited in 1816 by some Scottish loners - today, everyone of it's 268 citizens are related to these first explorers.
To get there you need a special permission - once you have it you should travel to Cape Town, South Africa, where you must pay a thousand dollars in order to buy one of the only twelve seats available in the ship (by the way, there is only one ship going to Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and it sets sail nothing more than once a month), yet since preference is given to the inhabitants of the city, as well as doctors and government officials - is probable that, even though you paid, you must wait another month to board.
If you're lucky and you got a seat on the ship then you better have brought some books with you because the journey is six days long and you share one room and one bathroom with everybody else on board. The town is so small there's no port so, after that week of travel, you'll have to jump into a smaller boat to finally arrive to your destination. Now what? Well, there are no hotels either so you'll have to rent a room in some of the houses (usually 70 dollars, including three meals and laundry service). Afterwards? You can enjoy the city: there's one bar ''Albatross'' (which opens a few hours a day), one store (also the only place with a computer with internet access), and even though there are no sand beaches, there's a huge active volcano covering most part of the island, yes you can explore it, yes it has erupted plenty times.
Enjoy your trip in this beautiful town, and don't get sick! Don't forget the nearest hospital is 6 days away!
Why Are Bananas Curved?
The flowers of the banana are gorgeous and huge; beneath each petal there is a row of tiny banana fruits growing along the shape of their mother. Slowly and due to the lack of direct sunlight in the rainforest, the fruit goes through a process called negative geotropism (they move towards the sun in order to retrieve light), this way the leaves fall and the bananas (which already had a curvature due to the cast of the petals who sheltered them) arch into the opposite position. Tad-aaaah!