Author Archives: Simon

I have worked in various parts of the UK, and in a few other countries, doing a variety of jobs in hotels, farms and offices. I currently make my living from my website, Omniglot, an online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages that makes money from adverts. I also play a variety of musical instruments, sing and write songs.

Getting Past the Intermediate Plateau

s

Today we have a guest post by Olly Richards of IWillTeachYouALanguage.com Behind The Scenes at the Fluent Spanish Academy If you’re starting to learn a new language, the internet is awash with advice and resources geared towards beginners. But as you make progress with your new language, and hit the dreaded intermediate plateau, it becomes […]

English, Language, Language learning, Spanish Leave a comment

Going through the motions

s

In English you can use the verb to go to indicate any kind of travel – it doesn’t matter if you’re going on foot, by bicycle, car, bus, train, boat or plane. There are other verbs you can use: walk, stroll, hike, cycle, drive, travel, sail, fly, etc, but you can also just use go. […]

English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Language quiz

s

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 8 Comments

A Tragic Goat Song

s

How is the word tragedy connected to goats and songs? The answer is that tragedy comes ultimately from the Ancient Greek word τραγῳδία ‎(tragōidía – epic play, tragedy) which comes from τράγος ‎(trágos – male goat) and ᾠδή ‎(ōidḗ, – song). Apparently the goat reference comes from satyrc drama, which featured actors dressed in goatskins […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Latin, Words and phrases Leave a comment

‘Cuisinez-Vous Le Français ?’ Mixing Learning with the Joys of Cooking

s

Today we have a guest post by the Language Chefs from Cuisinez-vous le français The new online tool, ‘Cuisinez-Vous Le Français ?’ is a fun way to learn French in a friendly, foodie manner. This new method, comprising of one recipe each week using a dedicated, online platform, allows you to improve your culinary and […]

English, French, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Needle Mouse and the Clockwork Octopus

s

There’s a Japanese word that means ‘needle mouse’ when literally translated. What kind of animal do you think it is? It is in fact a hedgehog. It is written 針鼠 and pronounced harinezumi: 針 (hari) means needle, pin, hook, stinger; thorn, hand (of clock), pointer or staple. 鼠 (nezumi, nezu, shi, sho) means rat, mouse […]

Chinese, English, Japanese, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Language quiz

s

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 5 Comments

Aha!

s

A useful Russian word I learnt recently is ага (aga) [ɐˈɡa/ɐˈɣa], it is an interjection similar to yep, yeah, aha and uh-huh in English. It shows that you’re listening, but don’t necessarily agree with the speaker. Here are some examples of usage: – Окей, ага, круто = Okay. All right. That’s cool. – Ага, я […]

English, Etymology, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 1 Comment

A load of old claptrap

s

Claptrap is a great word that means ’empty verbiage or nonsense’. A claptrap was a also device that produced a clapping sound and was used in theaters to encourge applause from audiences. It can also mean ‘a trick or device to gain applause; humbug’. Synonyms include waffle, hot air and palaver. The word apparently comes […]

English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Horse horse tiger tiger

s

In Mandarin Chinese there’s an idiomatic expression that translates literally as “horse horse tiger tiger”. What do you think it means? There is some interesting discussion about this idiom on the podcast Global Pillage, where they discuss idioms and customs from around the world. Suggestions for the meaning of this idiom included “social classes don’t […]

Chinese, English, Idioms, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment
%d bloggers like this: