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.

A Wayzgoose Chase

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What do you call a printer that doesn’t work? A wayzgoose [ˈweɪzɡuːs]. A wayzgoose‽ What’s that? According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, a wayzgoose is “An annual summer dinner or outing held by a printing house for its employees.” The Oxford Dictionaries blog says that: the wayzgoose was originally an entertainment given by a master-printer […]

English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 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 8 Comments

Going spooning

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There’s a tradition in Wales of men carving spoons out of wood and presenting them to the ladies they love. If a lady accepts a spoon, then she and the man are considered a couple – engagements and weddings were apparently not common in rural Wales until the 18th century [source]. The websites that discuss […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Giggling wrigglers

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I learnt a nice new German word today – kichern [ˈkɪçɐn], which means to giggle or snicker. Related expressions include: – ein Kicheranfall = a fit of the giggles – Wir haben uns darüber gekringelt = We had a good giggle about it – anfangen herumzukichern = to get the giggles This also got me […]

English, German, 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 8 Comments

Weathered pagodas and stretching times

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The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Breton, Cornish, Czech, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Language plans

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While I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, I do make language plans. This year I’m continuing to learn Russian and Cornish, and would like to learn a bit of Slovak before the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava in May/June, and some Icelandic before the Polyglot Conference in Reykjavik in October. I’m using Duolingo to learn […]

Cornish, English, Language, Language learning, Romanian, Russian 1 Comment

Partridges and pear trees

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In the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, the gift given on the first day is a partridge in a pear tree. As partridges nest on the ground and are unlikely to be found in pear trees, this seems a bit strange to me. A possible reason why partridge is in the pear tree in […]

English, French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

New Year

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A Multilingual Happy New Year!

General, Language Leave a comment

Hovercrafts and eels

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I like to play with idioms and sayings, and sometimes come up with new ones. The saying ‘my hovercraft is full of eels’ is very useful to know in a variety of languages, and here are some idioms based on this phrase that I was inspired to come up with this week, plus a few […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments
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