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.

Code talkers

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The role of the Navajo and other Native American tribes played in secret communications or code talking in World War II is fairly well known, and today I found out on the BBC News magazine that members of Choctaw Nation played a similar role in World War I. They communicated military information via phone, and […]

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Endangered languages, Language 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 12 Comments

Knock Cnoc

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The element Knock is quite common in place names in Ireland, e.g. Ballyknock, Castleknock, Gortknock, Kilknock and Knockaderry [source]. There’s also quite a few places called simply Knock, the best known of which is the Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland , which is known as An Cnoc (the hill) or Cnoc […]

English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

I’m full / J’ai trop mangé

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When you’ve finished a meal and are asked if you’d like any more, in English you might decline the offer by saying “Thanks, but I’m full”; “No thanks, I’ve had plenty”; “No, I’d better not, thank you”; “Thanks, but I couldn’t eat another thing”; “No thanks, I’m stuffed”, or even “No thank you, I have […]

Language 6 Comments

Logoburroo and other place names

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If an Australian visitor to the UK asked you for directions to somewhere they called Logoburroo [lɔgɜʉbəˈrʊː] would you know what place they were referring to? A friend of mine heard an Australian pronouncing Loughborough, a town in Leicestershire in central England, in this way and thought it was an interesting attempt at the name. […]

English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 12 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 10 Comments

Curing, cleaning and caring

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Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different French translations of the verb to cure, depending on what kind of cure you’re talking about. If you’re curing food by salting, the French equivalent is saler (to salt); curing by smoking is fumer (to smoke), and curing by drying is sécher (to dry). Curing […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Woordenschat

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I came across an interesting Dutch word today – Woordenschat [ˈʋoːɾdəsxɑt] – which means vocabulary. Woorden = words and schat = treasure, and also love honey, darling, sweetheart. So woordenschat is a “treasure of words” or “word treasure”. It reminds me of the English expression wordhoard, an alternative term for vocabulary, from the Old English […]

Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Producing oneself

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I came across an interesting expression in a French newspaper article I read today – se produire – which means to produce, occur, take place, perform, appear, and appears in such phrases as: – devoir se produire = to be bound to happen – se produire sur scène = to appear on stage – ce […]

English, French, 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 6 Comments