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 6 Comments

Harmony-loving chorus

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Last night I went to an excellent concert at the Pontio Arts Centre featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the brilliant harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani. As well as enjoying the concert, I started thinking about the word philharmonic – what it means, where it comes from, and why it features in the names of many […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Italian, Language, Latin, Music, Words and phrases Leave a comment

For the past several years

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Does anything strike you as odd about the title of this post? I came across this wording today in a book by an American author, and immediately thought, “don’t you mean ‘for the past few years’?”. For me that would be a more natural way to express this. Several in this context just sounds wrong. […]

English, Etymology, Language, Latin, 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 5 Comments

The Aesthetic of Umlessness

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The title of this post comes from a book by Michael Erard that I’m currently reading: Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean. It’s an interesting book that discusses how we all tend to um and er (or uh) in speech, and get words mixed up, correct ourselves, and make […]

English, Language Leave a comment

A Polyglot’s Guide to Place Names of Canada & the United States

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Today we have a guest post by Amit Raj Wherever you find yourself in the States or Canada, you are likely to find most voices around you are speaking in English, French, Spanish, or another modern European language. But dotted among the vocabulary of the typical American will be a number of words that we […]

English, French, Language, Spanish 1 Comment

Back to Bangor

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I finally returned to Bangor today after nearly 3 weeks away – I was only planning to be away for 3 days, but due to the slight mishap in London (a broken ankle), my plans changed a bit. My mum has looked after me very well, and been doing the cooking, laundry, shopping, etc. I’ll […]

English, General, Language, Welsh Leave a comment

Heartsease

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Heartsease, or heart’s-ease, is one of the names for the pansy (see photo), both garden and wild varieties. This name apparently comes from St. Euphrasia, whose name means ‘cheerfulness of mind’ in Greek. Other names for the garden pansy, or Viola tricolor hortensis / Viola x wittrockiana, include: viola, violet, love in idleness, or kiss-me-quick. […]

English, Language, Latin, Russian, 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

A postcard view

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Last night I went to an interesting talk about postcards at the local history society. Various people, including my mum, have collections of postcards of Silverdale and/or sent from Silverdale, and there was a project at Lancaster University to scan, transcribe and study the cards. There is also a book entitled Old Silverdale: The Loveliest […]

English, General, Language, Writing 2 Comments
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