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.

A Hooley of Ukeists


I’m having a great time at the Ukulele Hooley this weekend, so I thought I’d look into some ukulele-related words. There are various possible words for people who play the ukulele: – Ukulele player – Uker – Ukist – Ukeist – Ukulist – Ukulelist – Ukuleleist – Ukulelian – Uke-phreak – Ukester – Ukestrator – […]

English, Language, Music, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Eating sideways


An interesting Japanese word I came across today in an article on ‘untranslatable’ words is 横飯 (yokomeshi) which is used to describe the stress of speaking a foreign language. It comes from 横 (yoko – horizontal) and 飯 (meshi – boiled rice, a meal, food), and could be translated as ‘a meal eaten sideways’. This […]

English, Japanese, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Gleann Cholm Cille


I’m currently in Glencolumbcille (Gleann Cholm Cille) in Donegal in the north west of Ireland brushing up my Irish. Next weekend I’ll be in Dún Laoghaire for the Ukulele Hooley, Ireland’s national ukulele festival. So far I’ve spoken plenty of Irish, and also some Welsh, Japanese and French, and a bit of English.

Language Leave a comment

Y Llyfyrgell


Last night I saw the film Y Llyfrgell / The Library Suicides, a Welsh-language thriller based on the book Y Llyfrgell (The Library) by Fflur Dafydd, who also wrote the script and produced the film. This was the first film I’ve seen in Welsh, and I enjoyed it. It’s set in Aberystwyth, and most of […]

English, Film, Language, Welsh Leave a comment



I learnt an interesting new French word today – célibataire. When I first saw it I guessed that it meant celibate, but when I checked in a dictionary I found that while it does mean celibate, it is more commonly used to mean single. So un célibataire is a single man or bachelor, and une […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 1 Comment

When is a blog not a blog?


When I meet people who are familiar with my website, some of them say how much they like my blog. When I ask them what they like about it, they mention things that are on my website, rather than on this blog, so I soon realise that they’re using the word blog to refer to […]

English, General, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Phrase finder


There is a now a new way to view the phrases on Omniglot: a Phrase finder. This page enables you to see phrases in any combination of two languages. This is something I’ve been planning to set up for years, and now it’s finally ready. So if your native language isn’t English and you want […]

General, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Language quiz


Here’s a poem in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 3 Comments

Suspending disbelief


One of the things we talked about in the French conversation group this week was suspending disbelief, which is accepter les invraisemblances in French. That is “accepting the improbabilities”. Another way to say this in French is suspension d’incrédulité. The word invraisemblance also means unlikeliness or inverisimilitude. Related words include invraisemblable (unlikely, incredible, implausible, improbable) […]

English, French, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Are you a phenom?


I came across an interesting word in an article about hyperpolyglots I read today (it’s an old article, but I only just found it) – phenoms, which appears in the following sentence: TIME spoke to Erard about phenoms who can speak more languages than they have fingers, whether anyone can do it and where the […]

English, Language, Language learning, Words and phrases 2 Comments
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