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 7 Comments

Escroquerie

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An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

English, French, Italian, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Cheese flies

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Apparently it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day today. It’s also National Licorice Day, and Be Kind to Lawyers Day, at least in the USA. Is it a special day elsewhere? The equivalent of the grilled cheese sandwich in the UK is known as cheese on toast, and in French it’s known as a Croque Monsieur, […]

English, French, Language Leave a comment

Multilingual Britain

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A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Kerstin Cable about the languages of the British Isles for the The Creative Language Learning Podcast, which she makes with Lindsey Dow of Lindsey Does Languages. The podcast is now online as The Secret Languages of Great Britain. In the podcast we talk about the indigenous languages […]

English, Irish, Language, Language learning, Manx, Polish, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Sign language, Travel, Welsh 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 5 Comments

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
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