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.

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 1 Comment

In a jiffy

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A jiffy is very short, unspecified length of time. For example, “I’ll be back in a jiffy”. It can refer to more precise units of time, and was first defined by Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875–1946) as the time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (about 33.3564 picoseconds). Other definitions are available. […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Standing still on the longest day

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Today is the longest day of the year and the summer solstice. After several hot, sunny days in Bangor, today it’s cloudy, warm and muggy. The word solstice comes from the Old French solstice, from Latin sōlstitium (solstice; summer), from sol (sun) and sto (stand), from sistō (I stand still). Sol comes from the Proto-Italic […]

English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 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 5 Comments

Wandering prattlers

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It has been brought to my attention that in Swedish the most common way to say ‘speak’, at least in Stockholm, is pratar, and that few people use talar anymore. Är detta sant? Is this true? The Duolingo course I’m studying Swedish with uses talar, – pratar has not come up yet. According to Witionary, […]

English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Swedish, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Magic Café

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Tonight I will mainly be listening to the band Circe’s Diner at Blue Sky Café. I haven’t heard them before, but their reviews are good. Also playing tonight is the Ewan Macintyre band. When I saw the name, I naturally wondered how to pronounce circe, and where the word came from. According to Wikipedia, circe […]

Language, Music Leave a comment

Closing out

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On some podcasts I listen to, I’ve noticed that the presenters use the phrase close out when talking about the end of the show. For example, they say things like “Finally we will close out with an item about …”, or “It’s now time to close out the show.” To my British ears this expression […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 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 5 Comments

Mysterious abbreviations (MABs)

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Recently I’ve noticed the abbreviation MSM appearing in some of the articles I read online. When I first saw it I guessed it had something to do with Microsoft – maybe Microsoft Media, or something like that. Eventually I worked out that it stood for mainstream media. According to Wiktionary, MSM can also stand for […]

English, Language 1 Comment

Nature service

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Yesterday I went to see the ankle specialist at the local hospital,. He said that my ankle has healed well and just needs a bit of physiotherapy. I can start to wean myself off the orthopedic boot, using it less and less each day, and crutches as well. I didn’t wear the boot yesterday afternoon, […]

English, Etymology, General, Greek, Language, Latin, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Words and phrases Leave a comment
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