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.

Top 100 Language Learning Blogs

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This blog has been chosen as one of the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs – a list which includes links to other language-related blogs that might interest you. Many thanks to those who chose this blog.

General, 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 5 Comments

Neither fur nor feather

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Today I came across an interesting Russian idiom in the book I’m reading (Moon Seed, by Stephen Baxter): Ни пуха, ни пера (Ni púkha, ni perá). It means literally “neither fur nor feather” and is used to wish someone good luck. The phrase was originally used by Russian hunters in a sarcastic/ironic way. The feathers […]

English, German, Hebrew, Language, Russian, Words and phrases, Yiddish Leave a comment

Trumped

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For some reason I thought I’d look into the word trump today. It has a number of meanings: 1. trump (noun): the suit, in a game of cards, that outranks all others; a playing card of that suit; something that gives one an advantage, especially one held in reserve. Etymology From triumph, from the French […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 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 8 Comments

Romance and Horses

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What does romance have to do with horses? Well, the word romance has a number of meanings: – A story relating to chivalry; a story involving knights, heroes, adventures, quests, etc. – An intimate relationship between two people; a love affair. – A strong obsession or attachment for something or someone. – Idealized love which […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Gorillas, monkeys and ponys

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With a title like that, you might be expecting a post about animals, but in fact it’s about slang terms for money – a gorilla is £1,000, a monkey is £500 and a pony is £25. These names apparently come from old Indian banknotes and coins: the 25 Rupee coin had a pony on it, […]

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

Within walking distance

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This weekend I went to a friend’s wedding near Milton Keynes, and stayed in an AirBnB in Bletchley on Saturday night. In my review of the AirBnB I said that it was “within walking distance” of the centre of Bletchley. After writing this, I started thinking that the phrase walking distance probably means quite different […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 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 3 Comments

It’s in your east hand

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An episode of Word of Mouth I listened to recently discussed the language of directions, and how in some languages directions are absolute rather than relative. So you don’t have a right hand or left hand, for example, but a north or south hand, or an east or west hand, depending on which way you’re […]

English, Language 6 Comments
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