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.

Grammatical correctness and standard languages

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I got thinking standard languages and grammars today after reading an old post on Michal Boleslav Měchura’s blog Young, Single, Multilingual in which differences between standard and non-standard Irish language and grammar are discussed. One example is the use of the tag question ní tá instead of the standard nach bhfuil – the equivalent of […]

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English, Grammar, Irish, 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 3 Comments

All mouth and no trousers

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The idiom all mouth and no trousers came up last night at the French conversation group. We were actually looking for a French equivalent of all fur coat and no knickers and couldn’t find one, but did find an equivalent of all mouth and no trousers, which has a somewhat similar meaning. According to the […]

English, French, Language, Welsh 3 Comments

Patterns

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Recently I’ve been learning Serbian, Russian and Czech with free apps produced by Hallberg Ryman, who make them for quite a variety of languages for Andriod and iPhone/iPad. They are working well for me and I would definitely recommend them. They use a flashcard/SRS-based system to teach you vocabulary arranged into categories such as numbers, […]

Czech, English, Grammar, Language, Language learning, Russian, Serbian 1 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 4 Comments

Mochi

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Yesterday I came across an interesting Welsh word in one of my Welsh dictionaries (Y Geiriadur Mawr) – mochi ['mɔxɪ] – which means “ymdrybaeddu fel moch / to wallow as swine”. It comes from moch (pigs), the singular of which is mochyn, from the Proto-Celtic *mokkus (pig), which probably comes from a non-Indo-European root [source]. […]

English, Etymology, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Byd bach (Small world)

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Yesterday I met some Russians who are in Bangor for Celtic-Slavic language conference. They both speak Welsh and one of them teaches Welsh in Moscow. We got chatting, mainly in Welsh, and it turned out that they know friends of mine who are studying or doing research in Aberystwyth, and they also know Russians I […]

English, Irish, Language, Welsh Leave a comment

Interesting!

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The word interesting can have a variety of meanings, depending on how you say it and the context in which you use it. At least it does in British English. The basic definition is “inspiring interest; absorbing” [source]. It comes from the noun interest (legal claim or right; concern; benefit, advantage), from the Anglo-French interesse […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 2 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 6 Comments

Churches and Cells

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Today I discovered that the Welsh word llan (church, parish), which is used mainly in place names, such as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, has cognates in the other Celtic languages: lann in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish and Manx, and lan in Breton. These words all come from the Proto-Indo-European root *lendʰ- (land, heath) [source]. Another word church-related word […]

Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments