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.

Nix and Natch

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The words nix and natch have come up quite a bit in things I’ve read and/or heard recently, so I thought I’d look into their meanings and origins. Nix as a verb means “to ​stop, ​prevent, or ​refuse to ​accept something” and as a noun it means “nothing or no”. These usages are apparently mainly […]

English, Etymology, German, Language, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Pinkies

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What do you call your smallest finger? I call it my little finger, but I hear more and more people in the UK calling it their pinkie / pinky, which I thought was exclusively used in North America. Is this name used in some dialects of English in the UK, or is this an example […]

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 4 Comments

Anti-languages

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Here’s an interesting article on the BBC website about anti-languages, such as Thieves Cant, Polari and Gobbledygook. They have been around at least since Tudor times, and are used as secret slang by prisoners, escaped slaves, criminal gangs and gay people to keep their activities secret from the police and other authorities. Any group of […]

English, Language 1 Comment

Languages in Newcastle

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Last weekend I went to see a friend in Newcastle, and while we were exploring the place, I was listening out for languages other than English. The only ones I heard were Mandarin and Spanish, and my friend and I spoken mainly in English and Welsh, with a bit of Czech thrown in for variety. […]

Chinese, Czech, English, Language, Spanish, Travel, Welsh 8 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

AreSpacesBetweenWordsImportant?

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Did you know that the practice of putting spaces between words was started by Irish monks writing in Latin? This is what I discovered from an episode of the Allusionist – apparently when Christianity arrived in Ireland in the 6th century and people started writing in Latin, they put spaces between the words to make […]

English, Irish, Language, Latin, Writing 4 Comments

A not entirely uninteresting post

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The title of this post is perhaps an example of litotes [laɪˈtəʊ.tiːz], a figure of speech that uses understatement, particularly double negatives, to make a positive statement [source]. Other examples include: – I didn’t do too badly in the test – It’s a bit chilly – He’s not a bad guitarist Litotes comes from the […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Mother Tongues

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Today we have a guest post by Tim Brookes. As many of you know, February 21st is International Mother Language Day. The day is especially important to the nation of Bangladesh, where the right to speak their own language was a vital part of their move to gain independence from Pakistan. IMLD was born as […]

Language 2 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 10 Comments
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