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 2 Comments

Calabooses, digging and beds

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I came across the word calaboose in a book I read recently and as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context I had to look it up. I also like the sound of it, so thought I’d write about it. A calaboose is an informal American term for a prison or jail. It […]

English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Writing Systems of the World Comparison Chart

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Today we have a guest post by Matt Baker I remember the day when, as a child, I first discovered a writing system other than English. I was flipping through an encylopedia (this was the 1980’s, pre-Google) and noticed that, at the beginning of the “A” section, there was a little chart that showed the […]

English, Language, Writing Leave a comment

Working like a horse

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The other day I learnt an interesting Russian idiom (via Duolingo) – Работать как лошадь [rɐˈbotətʲ kak ˈloʂətʲ], which means literally “to work like a horse”, and is used to indicate that you are working hard. For example, Сегодня я работаю как лошадь (Today I am working like a horse). You can also work like […]

English, Hebrew, Idioms, Italian, Language, Russian, 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 6 Comments

Flutes and buckles

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Six weeks ago today I had a slight mishap while ice skating in London, and managed to dislocate and fracture my ankle – both the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (calf bone). The word tibia comes from the Latin tībia (shin bone, leg). It originally referred to a stalk, or reed pipe, and came to […]

English, Etymology, General, Greek, Language, Latin 3 Comments

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 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 2 Comments

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
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