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.

Wheels with teeth

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I discovered last night that in French a cog is a une dent, which also means a tooth, or une dent d’engrenage (“tooth gear”), and a cog wheel is une roue dentée (a toothed wheel), which is kind of a cog looks like. The English word cog, meaning a tooth on a gear, or a […]

English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Polyglot Pub

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Last week I went to the Polyglot Pub in London. I’ve been to similar events in Manchester and Liverpool, but this is the first one I’ve been to in London. It takes place once a month, usually at Penderel’s Oak, a pub in Holborn, and this month there were about 16 people there. The conversation […]

Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, Language, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Slovak, Swedish 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

Tell me all about it

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According to an article on Science Daily, a good way to remember something you’re learnt is to tell someone else about it, or to test yourself on it. A study got students to watch films, then asked them to describe what they’d seen afterwards. Those who told someone about the films just after watching them […]

General, Language, Language learning, Memory 1 Comment

A Wayzgoose Chase

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What do you call a printer that doesn’t work? A wayzgoose [ˈweɪzɡuːs]. A wayzgoose‽ What’s that? According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, a wayzgoose is “An annual summer dinner or outing held by a printing house for its employees.” The Oxford Dictionaries blog says that: the wayzgoose was originally an entertainment given by a master-printer […]

English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 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 8 Comments

Going spooning

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There’s a tradition in Wales of men carving spoons out of wood and presenting them to the ladies they love. If a lady accepts a spoon, then she and the man are considered a couple – engagements and weddings were apparently not common in rural Wales until the 18th century [source]. The websites that discuss […]

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

Giggling wrigglers

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I learnt a nice new German word today – kichern [ˈkɪçɐn], which means to giggle or snicker. Related expressions include: – ein Kicheranfall = a fit of the giggles – Wir haben uns darüber gekringelt = We had a good giggle about it – anfangen herumzukichern = to get the giggles This also got me […]

English, 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 8 Comments

Weathered pagodas and stretching times

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The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Breton, Cornish, Czech, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments
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