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.

Schrijfrichting / Scriptpath

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Last week a visitor to Omniglot asked me whether there is a single word in English that means writing direction, i.e. the direction in which writing systems are written. The Latin alphabet, for example, is written from left to right in horizontal lines, as are many other writing systems, while writing systems like Arabic and […]

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Dutch, English, German, Language, Words and phrases, Writing 8 Comments

One language per day

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Last week I decided to try a slightly different language learning strategy. Rather than trying to immerse myself and learning bits of various languages every day, I am focusing on one language each day. This mainly involves listening to online radio and doing online lessons, and also having conversations with people when I can. At […]

Dutch, English, Italian, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Portuguese, Spanish 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

Smoking Funky Radio

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The word radio is based on the verb to radiate, which comes from the Latin radius, which means stick rod; beam, ray (of light); shuttle (of loom); rod for drawing figures (in mathematics), radius of circle; long olive (plant); spoke (of wheel). Radio or radiotelegraphy, the wireless transmission of signals through space by electromagnetic radiation […]

English, Etymology, German, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Gender-neutral German

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According to an interesting article I found today in The Guardian, moves are afoot in Germany to try to introduce gender-neutral language. The German Justice Ministry has apparently issued an edict which requires state institutions to use gender-neutral language, which is quite challenging, especially when it comes to job titles and words referring to groups […]

English, German, Language 7 Comments

Peelie-wersh & Fankle

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Peelie-wersh & Fankle – they could be a crime fighting duo, the name of a shop of some kind, or even the name of a band, but are in fact a couple of Scots expressions I came across recently in one of Alexander McCall-Smith’s books. He sprinkles such words in his novels based in Scotland […]

English, Language, Scots, 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 8 Comments

Mountains and molehills

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I discovered yesterday that the French word for mole is taupe /top/, and I wondered if this might be related to the English word taupe, which, according to the OED, means ‘A brownish shade of grey resembling the colour of moleskin’ or in others words, mole-coloured. The English word taupe comes from the French, which […]

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

‘Academic’ style language teaching

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I’ve noticed that when some people write about language learning, particularly those who encourage you to learn languages on your own, they often make disparaging remarks about the ‘academic’ style of teaching found in language classes. Apparently this style of teaching is boring, dry, focused on grammar and learning vocabulary, and/or has too few opportunities […]

Education, Language, Language learning 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 9 Comments