Judaism. A big word in history, replete with success and tragedy and much in between.
While most might be expecting something religious to comes next, I'm going to talk about swear words. Yes, Judaism in the context of its cultural picture I guess, is very expressive.
Also, if I am to believe what I read in doing research there are three languages close together. The one I think I am looking at most often as a source of rich cultural expression is Yiddish. This led me to wonder about the difference between Hebrew and Yiddish. In reading about that I came across Aramaic. I won't belabor this entry with details. Yahoo has an awesome Q&A answer board that provides some great background and explanation. I usually take Yahoo with a grain of salt. I at least try and confirm what I read there with another entry elsewhere. In any case, here is the Yahoo entry describing the differences. A good answer that makes sense to me.
As a mere lad, back in my young and dumb years, I was a French major. I also took a few credits of Russian. I wish I had applied myself more back then. Now I realize what an opportunity I had then with the time to learn those languages. But I was young and dumb and not much of a student. I was also quickly realizing that the application of foreign languages was going to be problematic. As a student at a Midwest university, I was thousands of miles from anywhere that conducted business in anything besides English.
Fast forward 30 years +/- and I find myself still fascinated with languages and still faced with the same lack of pragmatic utility. However, my characters can speak in French and Russian and Yiddish, or at least use foreign words throughout their daily life as I write about it. Throw in some Mandarin and some Spanish and you have my cast of characters all schooled in foreign languages from one source or another, all using bits and pieces of these languages in dialog with each other, especially those swear words. Nothing better than a good foreign language swear word. Especially Yiddish.