BONUS: Ridiculing Old People About Sex

Untraceable words, unusual infixes — and some rather specific vocabulary — make the Aslian languages among the more fascinating.

JOHN McWHORTER: For our bonus segment, I'm going to be a little bit self-indulgent, as if I haven't done that before on this show, but I want to slide in something that I never have on Lexicon Valley because it hasn't quite fit in, and I'm always afraid it's a little too in the weeds, but it isn't. It's just that it's very local.

So, I mentioned Cambodian, talking about face masks. Well, I talked about how Cambodian is one of the languages that have the most vowels in the world. We're going to pull the camera out on that a little bit and then pull the camera way in. When I talked about that, what I'm talking about is a lot of the languages in the Austroasiatic family. And you remember I did the show where I talked about all the different families in Southeast Asia? Austroasiatic is most famous for Vietnamese and Khmer, especially Vietnamese. It's a good 170 languages, but the only two that most people have heard of beyond where they're spoken are Vietnamese and maybe Cambodian.

So, you…

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