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.

Sandwiches and Portsmouths

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The sandwich is named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, who is reputed to have invented it as a convenient way to eat while playing cards. He didn’t come up with the idea of putting meat or filling between two slices of bread, but he certainly popularised it and gave it his title. […]

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English, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Social Media Helps Threatened Language Threatened by Social Media

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Today we have a guest post by Alissa Stern of BASAbali.org On the eve of the Balinese holy day of knowledge, learning, and wisdom (Saraswati Day), a free innovative multi-media Balinese-Indonesian-English wiki dictionary was just made available to people in Bali and throughout the world. The wiki uses social media to save Balinese, a language […]

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

Flierefluiter

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The other day I learnt an interesting word in Dutch – flierefluiter – which a Dutch friend described as being a “butterfly type of person”. That is, someone who rarely sticks to or finishes anything. According to the vanDale dictionary flierefluiter is a nietsnut (layabout or someone fit for nothing). According to Dictionarist a flierefluiter […]

Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 4 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 12 Comments

Can’t do it for toffee

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There’s an interesting idiom in British English that means that you are bad at doing something – you can’t do it for toffee. Apparently a US equivalent is can’t do something for beans. The equivalent of this phrase in French is il n’est pas fichu de faire qch and in Welsh it’s nid yw’n medru […]

English, French, Language, Welsh 1 Comment

Multilingual esprit de l’escalier

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Last night I went to Global Café, a gathering of international and local students, and had chances to use quite a few different languages, including Czech, Hindi, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish, and also English. Apart from English and Mandarin, I don’t speak any of these languages well, and I only know bits and pieces […]

Chinese, Czech, English, Hindi, Language, Spanish, Taiwanese 7 Comments

Da mad math

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In Welsh and Cornish the usual word for good is da [daː], while in the other Celtic languages words for good are: Breton – mat [maːt˺], Irish – maith [mˠa(ɪ)(h)], Manx – mie [maɪ], and Scottish Gaelic – math [ma]. I’ve wondered for a while whether there were cognates in Welsh and Cornish for these […]

Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 11 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

Maeldy

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I came across an interesting word in my Welsh dictionary – maeldy [ˈmaːɨldɨ̬ / ˈmaildɪ] – which is an old word for shop. The normal Welsh word for shop is siop, which sounds like shop. I had wondered if there was a another word for shop other than the one borrowed from English, now I […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Neo-eisimeileachd / Unthirldom / Independence

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As there’s an independence referendum in Scotland today I thought I’d look at a few relevant words in Scottish Gaelic and Scots: Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Scots English reifreann [rʲɛfərʲɛn̪ˠ] referendum referendum rneo-eisimeileachd [n̪ˠʲɔ eʃɪmələxg] unthirldom independence neo-eisimeileach [n̪ˠʲɔ eʃɪmələx] unthirlit independent bhòt [voʰt̪] vote vote Etymologies – neo-eisimeileachd: from neo- (un-), from Irish neamh-/neimh-, from […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases Leave a comment