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.

Finnish Language Day

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Apparently today is Finnish Language Day or Suomen kielen päivä. It is the anniversary of the death of Mikael Agricola (c. 1510-1557), a clergyman who is known as the “father of literary Finnish” – he translated religious works into Finnish, including the New Testament, and modern Finnish spelling is based on his work. Before then […]

English, Finnish, General, Language, Manx 2 Comments

Snollygoster

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I came across the wonderful word snollygoster [ˈsnɒlɪˌɡɒstə] today. It is defined as follows: – One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. – A politician who cares more for personal gain than serving the people (Slang, USA) From: The Free Dictionary. – A shrewd person not […]

English, German, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Throats and trees

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One Scottish Gaelic expression I learnt last week was “Tha craobh air mo sgòrnan” or literally “There’s a tree on my throat”. This is the Gaelic equivalent of “There’s a frog in my throat”, which is used when you are rendered temporarily speechless due to a small amphibian taking up residence in your oesophagus, or […]

English, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, 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

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

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This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Music, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Songs, Spanish, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Language quiz

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Here are recordings of songs in the three different flavours of Gaelic: Manx (Gaelg), Irish (Gaeilge) and Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig). Your challenge is to identify which Gaelic is which. Recording 1 Recording 2 Recording 3

Language, Quiz questions 6 Comments

Scatting

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Last night I saw an excellent group called Rag Mama, a duo from England who live in France and play American music, particularly blues and jazz. One of the songs they sang was Cab Calloway’s Minie the Moocher, which includes some scat singing in the chorus. Wikipedia defines scat singing as “vocal improvisation with wordless […]

English, Language, Music, Songs 4 Comments

Which are the most learned languages?

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When up-dating the Which language should I learn? page on Omniglot this week I decided to try and find out not only which languages have the most speakers, and also which ones have the most learners. The top ten languages in terms of overall number of native (L1) and second language (L2) speakers are: Language […]

Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

La Journée internationale de la Francophonie

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Aujourd’hui est la Journée internationale de la Francophonie, une célébration de la langue et culture française dans les 70 États et gouvernements de l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF). Today is International Francophonie Day, a celebration of French language and culture in the 70 states and governments of the International Organization of La Francophonie. Here’s […]

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 8 Comments
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