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.

Súilíní

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I discovered an interesting word in Irish yesterday – súilíní [ˈsˠuːl̪ʲiːn̪ʲiː] – which is a diminutive form of súil [sˠuːl̪ʲ] (eye) and means literally “small eyes”, and actually means eyelets, an aperture-sight, or bubbles. For example, uisce gan súilíní is still water (“water without bubbles”) [source]. More common Irish words for bubbles are bolgán and […]

Breton, Catalan, Cornish, Danish, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Norwegian, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Swedish, Welsh, 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 3 Comments

The Bold Step

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In Hiberno-English (the English spoken in Ireland), children who misbehave are told not to be bold and might be sent to the bold step. I heard this expression being used the other day and it stuck in my mind as I hadn’t heard it before. In the UK the equivalents are usually naughty and naughty […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Gleann Cholm Cille

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This week and next week I am in Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolmcille) in Donegal in the north west of Ireland. I’m doing courses at Oideas Gael, an Irish language and cultural centre: a harp playing course this week, and an Irish language and culture course next week. This is my 11th visit to Gleann Cholm […]

Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Irish, Language, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Travel 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 2 Comments

Typophilia

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Whenever I see a well-written text with a good layout, it really appeals to me and I find myself staring at it and admiring it. I also admire particularly well-made fonts, and beautiful handwriting and calligraphy. On the other hand, texts can be marred for me by a poor choice of font and/or layout, and […]

English, Language, Writing 1 Comment

Schiehallion – Constant Storm Mountain

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I’m currently reading a fascinating book, Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt, and came across an interesting mountain name – Schehallion – which the author says that she was told means “constant storm” in Gaelic, a suitable name as the weather on the mountain is apparently notoriously bad. […]

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

What’s in a name?

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The other day I received an email with some corrections to my Scots phrases page. One thing the writer objected strongly to was the use of the name Scots for the language/dialect in question. He believes it should be called Scottish, and that nobody calls it Scots. My understanding is that three main languages are […]

English, Language, Scots, Scottish Gaelic Leave a comment

Manywhere

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In the Russian lesson I worked on today there was an interesting expression – много где (mnogo gde) – which is a colloquial way of saying “many places” or “lots of places”, and literally means “many where”. It’s used in the following context: – где ты был, кроме России? (gde ty byl, krome Rossii?) where […]

English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 2 Comments
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