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.

Why Weihnachten?

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Have you every wondered where the German word for Christmas, Weihnachten, comes from? I have, as it is so different from words for Christmas in other European languages. So I decided to investigate. Weihnachten comes from the Middle High German wīhenahten ‎(Christmas), from a dative plural ze den wīhen nahten ‎(in the holy nights). The […]

English, Etymology, 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 4 Comments

Christmas

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A multlingual Merry Christmas and happy language learning in the New Year!

General, Language 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 5 Comments

Sorry, we’re out of smiles

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Translation: – A baguette please. – With this? – ? – With a plant please – With this? – With a surfboard please – With this? – With a smile please – Sorry. I don’t have any more of them. The phrase avec ceci ? literally means “with this?”, but I suspect in this context […]

English, French, Language 1 Comment

That’s enough!

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The Russian word всё (vsjo) [fsʲo] is a useful one that can mean various things depending on the context: everything, still, always, all the time, nevertheless. Here are some examples: – Вот и всё; Это всё = that’s all – Мне всё равно = it’s all the same to me – Я всё равно пойду […]

English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Ditties, dictation and digits

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A ditty is a short, simple song, like the ones I write. It comes from the Old French dite (composition), from the Latin dictatum (something dictated), from dictare (to dictate), a frequentative of dicere (to say, speak), which is related to dicare (to proclaim, dedicate), from the Proto-Indo-European root *deik- (to point out). Some English […]

English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 2 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

Large vocabulary? Do you know how to use it?

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A lot of language learning approaches I’ve read and heard about focus on learning as much vocabulary as possible, and not worrying too much about grammar, at least at first. For example you might focus on learning the most commonly-used phrases and words, and on using them at every opportunity. Later on you might learn […]

English, Language, Language learning, Russian, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Stuckies, pleeps and doos

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I came across some interesting Scots words in a TED talk today which I hadn’t heard before – stuckies, pleeps and doos. What do you think they mean? Clue: they’re types of bird. In the talk the presenter, a native speaker of Scots, explains how he was told from his first day at school that […]

English, Language, Scots, Words and phrases 1 Comment
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