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.

French adventures

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My trip to France last week with members of Bangor Community Choir and Coastal Voices choir from Abergele was fantastic, and though it was only five days, it felt much longer as we fitted so much into our time there. We left Bangor at 6am on Wednesday morning and travelled to Birmingham airport by coach, […]

Basque, English, Etymology, French, Language, Music, Occitan, Songs, Spanish, Travel 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 7 Comments

Oloron-Sainte-Maire

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Tomorrow I’m going to Oloron-Sainte-Maire in the south west of France with members of the Bangor Community Choir, and the Coastal Voices choir from Abergele. We’ll travel by coach to Birmingham aiport, fly to Bordeaux, and then continue by coach to Oloron. While we’re there we will visit interesting places around the area, such as […]

Basque, English, French, Language, Music, Songs, Travel 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 4 Comments

Take the frog and run!

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Yesterday I came across the interesting French word grenouiller, which literally means “to frog” and actually means “to indulge in shady dealings”, and seems to refer specifically to political intrigues, according to Le Dictionnaire. A related expression is manger / bouffer la grenouille (literally, “to eat the frog”) = to scoop the till; to clean […]

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

La plume de ma tante

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I wrote a new song last week based on the phrase ‘la plume de ma tante‘ (My aunt’s quill/pen/feather). This phrase cropped up in a conversation I had with friends a few weeks ago when we were talking about learning languages, and how languages are taught. According to Wikipedia this phrase possibly appeared in French […]

English, French, Language, Language learning, Music, Songs 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 8 Comments

Little donkey bridges

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I learnt an interesting word in Dutch today – ezelsbruggetje (“little donkey bridge”), which means a mnemonic, which associates words and other things you want to remember with images. A number of possible origins for this word are given on ezelsbrug.nl, my favourite of which is that when donkeys were commonly used in the countryside […]

Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Quatschen

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I came across an interesting German word today – quatschen – which means to gab; to piffle; to talk rubbish; to chew the fat; to shoot the breeze; to blab; to yak; to squelch; to squidge [source]. It appears in a blog post in the sentence: Aber da fragt auf dem Gathering auch niemand mehr, […]

English, German, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Ceceando (lisping)

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Last night there was some discussion between some of my Spanish and Colombian friends about why the letters z and c (when followed by e or i) are pronounced /θ/ – like the th in thin – in most of Spain, apart from in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, and as /s/ in the rest […]

English, Language, Spanish 5 Comments
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