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The Language of Corruption, from Cash for Soup to Nokia Box

Billboard in Zambia (Photo: Lars Ploughmann via Wikimedia Commons)

Billboard in Zambia (Photo: Lars Ploughmann via Wikimedia Commons)

Turks call bribes, “cash for soup.” Chinese call them “tokens of gratitude.” Afghans call them, “money for tea.” From one tongue to the next, the language of corruption is strikingly similar in its soothing, euphemistic power.

This report came to us via the BBC World Service program The Fifth Floor. The people there drew on the research of Nicolette Makovicky of Oxford University and David Henig of the University of Kent. Makovicky and Henig are working on a project called The Languages of Informality.



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