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.

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

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

Coasts and competitors

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Sometimes when I see new words in English or other languages I can immediately break them down into their component parts and work out their roots, but other times I just accept words as whole entities without trying to work out their derivation. One such word in Welsh is arfordir, which I hadn’t tried to […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Meads and Meadows

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I was in Cardiff last weekend and one of the places I walked along was the Taffs Mead Embankment, which runs along the River Taff. I’ve seen the word mead in the name Thamesmead, a district of south east London, but hadn’t thought about what it might mean. Mead in this context means meadow and […]

Language 5 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 4 Comments

Marmosets, cheese and gargoyles

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When French-speaking photographers want people to smile, they might say Le petit oiseau va sortir (The little bird is going to come out) or Souriez! (smile), or might ask them to say pepsi! or ouistiti! (marmoset), just as English-speaking photographer get people to smile by asking them to say “Cheese!” The word ouistiti [ˈwistiti] means […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language 2 Comments

Post-vernacular languages

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In an article I read today – Sustaining languages: An interview with Peter Austin, I came across an interesting idea – post-vernacular languages. A vernacular language is one you use in your everyday life, while a post-vernacular language is one you may not want to use in your daily life and as means of communication, […]

Endangered languages, English, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Hmyz and Hums

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I came across an interesting Czech word today – hmyz, which means “insect, ant, bug, creepy-crawly”. It appears in my Czech phrasebook in the sentence, “V našem pokoji je hmyz” (There are insects in our room). It sounds like the sounds insects make, but there are other words for hum in Czech – bzučet, vrčet, […]

Czech, English, Language, Words and phrases 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 3 Comments
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