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.

Five methods for improving your language level towards Mastery


This is a guest post by Benny Lewis, of Fluent in 3 Months. He’s launching a series of beginner guides for Chinese, French, Spanish, German, English and Italian this week, but in today’s post he wanted to write some tips here for those of you working on your more advanced skills! If you’ve been studying […]

English, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Blue eyes and black butter


I discovered today that the French equivalent of a black eye is un œil au beurre noir (a black butter eye). It is also known as un œil poché au beurre noir (an eye poached in black butter) or un cocard (a rosette or lesion). According to L’, the expressions containing beurre noir date from […]

English, French, German, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Closing out


In the Czech lessons I’ve been working my way through I’ve noticed that the Czech host says (in English) at the end of each lesson “To close out this lesson, we would like to practise what you have just learnt.”. I would say finish rather than close out, and thought close out was a non-native […]

Czech, English, Language, Words and phrases 8 Comments

Language quiz


Here’s a recording of part of a song in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken? Like this:Like Loading…

Language, Quiz questions 6 Comments

Carrying coals to Newcastle


An idiomatic way to say a task is pointless is to say it’s like carrying coals to Newcastle – Newcastle, in the north east of England, used to be a major coal mining area. In French the equivalent is porter de l’eau à la rivière (to carry water to the river). In German they say […]

English, French, German, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Living Languages – a special report on language learning


I came across an article about language learning in the Guardian today which discusses the findings of a report on language learning [PDF] based on a two-year study carried out by the Guardian and the British Academy. The report makes interesting reading, and looks at many aspects of language learning, such as language education, young […]

Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Llap y dwndwr – the drink of prattle


I discovered last night that an old Welsh expression for tea is llap y dwndwr [ɬap ə ˈdʊndʊr], which could be translated as meaning “the drink that makes one talkative” or “the drink of chatter”. It is also the name of a tune. The word llap means soft and wet, and appears in the expression […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Language quiz


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

Language, Quiz questions 8 Comments

Two wheels left here will be removed


If you’ve ever wonder how you would tell people not to park their bicycles in Latin and Ancient Greek, as I’m sure you have, the sign in the photo shows you. The Latin, Duae rotae hic relictae perimentur, apparently means “two wheels [cycles] left/abandoned here will be removed”. The Greek, Εηθαδε αηφθεητες δυοκυκλοι διαφθαρνσονται, apparently […]

English, Greek, Language, Latin 6 Comments

Multilingual conversations


At the French conversation group I go to most weeks we usually stick to French most of the time, however when the leader of the group isn’t there or leaves early, as she did last week and the week before, we often switch to English and/or Welsh. Most members of the group speak Welsh, as […]

English, French, Language, Welsh 3 Comments
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