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.

How many Chinese characters/words do you need to know?

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One thing Chinese learners often ask about is how many characters they need to know in order to read Chinese. In a new article I was sent today, there’s some discussion about how many Chinese characters and words you need to know. I decided to check to details provided by the writer, and re-wrote this […]

Chinese, English, Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Colombian Slang

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This is a guest post by Nate Alger Have you ever been to Colombia? If not, you are missing out on one of the best kept secrets in Latin America. It is a country filled with life, lots of culture, and great food to eat! It’s the place that I have called home for the […]

English, Language, Language learning, Spanish, 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 6 Comments

Shelfies

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I came across a new word on Instagram today – shelfie, a portmanteau of shelf and selfie meaning, according to Wiktionary, “a photograph of a bookshelf/bookcase taken by its owner and shared on social media.” The context I saw the word was even more specific – language shelfies, i.e. a photo of a bookshelf containing […]

English, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Gaelic hills

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I’m currently reading an interesting book – Uncommon Ground – A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape by Dominick Tyler. One thing I’ve learnt from it, is that there are quite a few words in Scottish Gaelic related to hills and mountains: Beinn [beiɲ / beɲə] = mountain, mount; high hill, pinnacle; head, top, high […]

English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, 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 3 Comments

In a jiffy

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A jiffy is very short, unspecified length of time. For example, “I’ll be back in a jiffy”. It can refer to more precise units of time, and was first defined by Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875–1946) as the time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (about 33.3564 picoseconds). Other definitions are available. […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Standing still on the longest day

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Today is the longest day of the year and the summer solstice. After several hot, sunny days in Bangor, today it’s cloudy, warm and muggy. The word solstice comes from the Old French solstice, from Latin sōlstitium (solstice; summer), from sol (sun) and sto (stand), from sistō (I stand still). Sol comes from the Proto-Italic […]

English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, 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

Wandering prattlers

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It has been brought to my attention that in Swedish the most common way to say ‘speak’, at least in Stockholm, is pratar, and that few people use talar anymore. Är detta sant? Is this true? The Duolingo course I’m studying Swedish with uses talar, – pratar has not come up yet. According to Witionary, […]

English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Swedish, Words and phrases 4 Comments
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