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.

Frost, Ice cream and Father Christmas

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When I learnt a Russian word for frost – мороз (moróz) – this week I thought that the word for ice cream – мороженое (morózhenoe) – might come from the same root. According to Wikitionary they are related: мороженое comes from морозить (to freeze) from мороз, which comes from the Proto-Slavic *morzъ (frost). Related words […]

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English, Language, Russian 3 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 3 Comments

Hebrew phrases

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Yesterday I received an email telling me that there shouldn’t be Hebrew versions of Merry Christmas and Happy Easter among the Hebrew phrases on my site as, “the Hebrew language is a holy language” and that “if you say Happy Easter, or Merry Christmas in Hebrew you pretty much burn to death in the spot […]

English, Hebrew, Language 9 Comments

Haps and Mishaps

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A mishap is “an unlucky accident”, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, and is often accompanied by the word minor – e.g. we had a few minor mishaps in the kitchen, but at least we didn’t burn the chicken. I happened upon the word mishap today and it got me wondering whether the word hap also […]

English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Pufflings

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The other day I discovered that a young puffin is known as a puffling, which I really like the sound of. There are a few other words that include the -ling suffix that are commonly used: sibling, duckling, underling, earthling, seedling, yearling (an animal that is between one and two years old) – can you […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Language quiz

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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

The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct

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According to an article I came across yesterday the idea that language is an instinct or that there is some kind of language organ in the brain is unlikely to be true. Vyvyan Evans, Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University, argues that, “Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the […]

English, Language, Linguistics 1 Comment

You lucky sausage!

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According to a friend who lives in Manchester, a common expression there is “You lucky sausage!”, which is used when someone has some (unexpected) good luck. For example, if you won a prize in a competition, your friends might say, “You lucky sausage you!”. I hadn’t heard this expression before and neither has anybody else […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Merched Nadolig

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Last Saturday I was chatting with a Czech friend in Welsh and describing a recent trip to London. One of the things I mentioned was visiting the Christmas market in Hyde Park, although instead of saying marchnad Nadolig (Christmas market) I said merched Nadolig (Christmas girls/women), much to my friend’s amusement. I realised my mistake […]

English, Language, Welsh 3 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 7 Comments