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 4 Comments

Marmosets, cheese and gargoyles

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When French-speaking photographers want people to smile, they might say Le petit oiseau va sortir (The little bird is going to come out) or Souriez! (smile), or might ask them to say pepsi! or ouistiti! (marmoset), just as English-speaking photographer get people to smile by asking them to say “Cheese!” The word ouistiti [ˈwistiti] means […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language 2 Comments

Post-vernacular languages

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In an article I read today – Sustaining languages: An interview with Peter Austin, I came across an interesting idea – post-vernacular languages. A vernacular language is one you use in your everyday life, while a post-vernacular language is one you may not want to use in your daily life and as means of communication, […]

Endangered languages, English, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Hmyz and Hums

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I came across an interesting Czech word today – hmyz, which means “insect, ant, bug, creepy-crawly”. It appears in my Czech phrasebook in the sentence, “V našem pokoji je hmyz” (There are insects in our room). It sounds like the sounds insects make, but there are other words for hum in Czech – bzučet, vrčet, […]

Czech, English, 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 3 Comments

Fosses and Sextons

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At the French Conversation Group last night one of the people had an old French language textbook from the 1950s which contains lots of stories in French. One of them contains the word “Le Fossoyeur” in the title, which is translated as “The Sexton”. As this wasn’t a word I’d come across before, I thought […]

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

How to you?

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An interesting structure that came up in the Russian lesson I worked on today is Как тебе …? (Kak tebe …) or literally “How to you …”), which means “What do you think of …?”. The example in the lesson is Ну, как тебе пельмени? (Nu, kak tebe pel’meni?), which means “So, what do you […]

English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 5 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 6 Comments

Suo Gân

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We are learning the traditional Welsh lullaby Suo Gân [sɨɔ ɡɑːn] in one of the choirs I sing in at the moment. It’s a lovely song that was first written down in 1800, but was probably composed around before then. When I first saw the words Suo Gân I thought they might be Mandarin Chinese […]

Chinese, English, Language, Music, Songs, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

In the cold light of day

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An interesting expression I noticed recently is in the cold light of day. It is used to indicate that you are thinking about something calmly and clearly, and you might feel foolish, sorry or ashamed for thinking or doing that something. For example “The next morning, in the cold light of day, Sam realized that […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment
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