Anyone care to come up with their own potential entries for next year?
I came up with one some years ago that I submitted to New Scientist during one of their contests, and it was one of the winners.
WHY do men often spit into a urinal before urinating?
In the pre-plumbing past, men would urinate into weedy areas near trees. There was always a danger that venomous snakes might be lurking in these areas and could attack the urinator, possibly in a very sensitive spot. The pre-urination spit evolved to allow the urinator to flush out any snakes while his sensitive areas are still protected by his clothing.
I have a theory that the thick “Down East” accent of Maine lobsterman evolved because it is so cold out on the water that they don’t expose their teeth, hence the clipped mode of talking.
The legends of dragons around the world can best be explained by the hypothesis that neotenous salamanders used to grow to salt-water crocodile size, but that they were hunted to extinction in the early Bronze Age.
These are all good.
I think there must be a grain of truth in this idea - or at least the notion that environmental factors can contribute to the development of accents and dialects.
Try to feed a reluctant baby and it shakes its head side to side to escape the advancing spoon.
Hence, we shake our heads to mean “No”.
I was listening to a radio show about the Scandinavian countries, and apparently it’s common knowledge that Fins are so taciturn because you don’t want to do a lot of chatting when it’s 20 below.
Whereas the head-bobbing-up-and-down motion is integral to the act of oral sex - hence, we nod our heads to mean “yes”.
My folks were in Australia when they were told by a local that the reason they speak out of the side of their mouths was to keep the flies out.
Southern India and Bulgaria would appear to be counterexamples,
but then I’ve never seen babies from these regions declining food, so I may be wrong.
People bite their nails because, if they didn’t, the nails would grow in circles and make the hands useless for picking things up.
A Eurocentric simplification. In much of the non-European world, that is not a gesture for “No”.
Did you think this was the thread for good ad hoc hypotheses?
I really don’t think corrections are needed here.
The graphic arrow icon on your screen is called a cursor. That’s because of the way most people attempt to communicate with computers.