Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

You're scanning your friend's baby shower registry and find all the usual suspects: diapers, onesies, rattles and pacifiers. But what's with the Spanish language DVDs and Mandarin vocabulary flash cards? When is the perfect time to start learning another language?

A required language class in high school or college has been the academic downfall of many a student. But for students who have a so-called "ear for languages" and pick them up easily, German 101 is a piece of cake. What accounts for the difference?

Let's say that you're traveling to a country where you don't speak the language. You didn't have time to pick up a dictionary, so you'll have to get around using only hand gestures. The problem? Every hand gesture you do offends someone. What gives?

When you're struggling through intro to Latin or intermediate German, at some point it's likely that you'll shut your book and wonder why we can't all just speak the same language. How did we end up with so many? And why can't we just pick one and put an end to the confusion?

Try saying "toy boat" three times fast. By the time you're done, the words will be all distorted. It's a classic tongue twister, but is it your tongue or your brain that's really tangled up?

It's dreary outside, and you remark on the beautiful weather. An incompetent co-worker is promoted, and you say she'll do a great job. It's not Opposite Day -- it's sarcasm.

What may elicit a thumbs up from Miss Manners in the U.S. may not elsewhere in the world. Some cultures do things very different from the way Americans are used to. Learn 13 examples of good and bad manners around the world.

An anagram takes the letters in a phrase and rearranges them to form a new phrase. Anagrams can sometimes spell out an accurate description of the original word. Some of the results will surprise you. See our list of 13 anagrams.

Palindromes are phrases or sentences that read the same forward and backward. How can that be possible? Read 15 palindromes and find out if this list of sentences does, in fact, read the same if you reverse the placement of the letters.

James Dean warned teens about the dangers of speeding the same year he died in a high-speed car crash. The Beatles were turned down by a record producer who claimed that groups with guitars were a fad. Read about this and all 9 bits of irony.

If you're a newbie to slang, just chill and dig it. Every new generation has its own slang that kids use without their parents understanding. Or read our list of 53 slang terms by decade, and you'll be talking like a hipster in no time.

Tired of 'the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog?' Pangrams are sentences that use every single letter of the alphabet at least once. Learn other sentences that use the entire alphabet when you read our list of 14 pangrams.

Walter Winchell not only dished the dirt on celebrities and politicians, he also coined some clever phrases. Winchell is considered the forefather of gossip columnists who had a tendency for making up words. Learn 15 terms coined by Walter Winchell.

If you're headed to the spelling bee, here's a list of words you should have down pat. These words are some of the most common words that people spell incorrectly. Learn 48 commonly misspelled words, only at HowStuffWorks.

You know genius is all inspiration and perspiration, but it's time to find out what creativity is really about. This list provides some of the most famous quotes that are about creativity and invention. Read 17 favorite quotes on creativity.

Virtual reality. Jumbo shrimp. These phrases have meaning, even though the words contradict each other. These words, whose meanings contradict each other, are called oxymorons, and you may use some of them without thinking about it. See our list of 15 oxymorons for more.

What do the Brits call cotton candy? Cotton floss, of course. Even though they speak English, our British friends have very different ways of saying certain things. Find 27 American terms and their British equivalents in this handy list.

Much to our amusement, politicians sometimes get tongue-tied. See our list of 9 political slips of the tongue by presidents and other leaders, including slips by Ronald Reagan and Al Gore.

People will remember a life well-lived, but a well-written epitaph will render that person unforgettable. Here are 20 of the wittiest and most memorable epitaphs ever written.

American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the fastest growing languages of study in the United States. Learn about the history of ASL, how it's used and how it differs from other sign languages in the United States and around the world.

A concierge's work is more varied than ever as they take care of all the things most of us struggle to find time to do. Let this article change your mind about how you think the job of a concierge works.

In spite of being so easy to overlook, Braille is amazing. Learn how Braille gives blind people an efficient method for communication and learning.

A hybrid of English and Spanish known as Spanglish can be heard in many predominantly Hispanic areas as well as on TV and in movies. Learn where it came from and how it works.

Many of us offer a blessing when someone sneezes, and we don't even know why. Why does a sneeze get a "bless you" when a cough goes unanswered?"

You've probably heard the story about Catherine the Great and the horse. Although this false piece of gossip is more than 200 years old, it's still being spread as fact. Learn about the different types of gossip and find out why gossip is so ubiquitous.