NR Digital

The Straggler

Morpheme Addiction

by John Derbyshire

Until very recently the only thing I knew how to say in Turkish was the proverb Nerede çokluk, orada bokluk, which means (I shall bowdlerize slightly) “Where there are people, there is dung.”

I had learned this by the most random kind of chance. Many years ago, I was living in a rooming house in Hong Kong, where I struck up a friendship with a fellow guest, a brilliant and well-educated young Frenchman. He was a compulsive traveler — one of those people who have been everywhere and engaged at close quarters with a score of languages.