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.

Chinese learning tools

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This is a guest post by Dimitrios Polychronopoulos When I first started studying Chinese, in Taiwan, back in 1993, I started with the Mandarin phonetic alphabet and traditional characters. Primarily I used bopomofo to learn how to read, in the same way a Taiwanese child learns growing up on the island. Then just more than […]

Chinese, English, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

When your gran is your granddad

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In a book I’m reading at the moment – Border Country by Raymond Williams – one of the characters calls his grandfather ‘Gran‘, which strikes me as unusally. To me gran could only refer to a grandmother. Does it seem strange to you? I only remember one of my grandparents – my dad’s mum – […]

English, Language, Welsh, 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 Leave a comment

Playing games

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In English you play a game, but you don’t play a play. In Russian the words for to play and game come from the same root: играть (to play) and игра (game). To play a game is играть в игру. I already knew the verb играть, but didn’t know that the word for a game […]

Czech, English, Etymology, Language, Russian, Slovak, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Improvements to Omniglot

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Recently I’ve been making a lot of small improvements to Omniglot. An American gentleman from Michigan has very kindly been proofreading parts of my site, and sending me long lists of corrections and improvements. So far we’ve worked through the languages written with the Latin alphabet from A-J. I’ve corrected errors, edited and improved language […]

English, General, Language Leave a comment

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 6 Comments

Harmony-loving chorus

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Last night I went to an excellent concert at the Pontio Arts Centre featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the brilliant harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani. As well as enjoying the concert, I started thinking about the word philharmonic – what it means, where it comes from, and why it features in the names of many […]

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

For the past several years

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Does anything strike you as odd about the title of this post? I came across this wording today in a book by an American author, and immediately thought, “don’t you mean ‘for the past few years’?”. For me that would be a more natural way to express this. Several in this context just sounds wrong. […]

English, Etymology, Language, Latin, 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 5 Comments

The Aesthetic of Umlessness

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The title of this post comes from a book by Michael Erard that I’m currently reading: Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean. It’s an interesting book that discusses how we all tend to um and er (or uh) in speech, and get words mixed up, correct ourselves, and make […]

English, Language Leave a comment
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