Our favorite minerals come in many forms and colors and it is fun to collect the variety that is available. But did you ever stop to think how many different spellings there are for your favorite mineral in all the world’s languages? One way to get started on such an investigation is through worldwide postage stamps. Here is an example using the important sulfide mineral from which most of the world’s zinc is resourced. There are certainly more languages than represented by these stamps from 12 countries and ten languages, but they do cover the world!
Can you see the two countries which use the Spanish spelling (Esfalerita)? I am not sure why Central African Republic used English on their stamp; the official languages there are French and Sangho. The Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia, were an English colony until 1978. Is that an Elmwood, Tennessee piece on their stamp? The Afghan language on the stamp is Pashto. What else do you notice with these stamps?