Archive for the Category: German

Plains, pianos and floors

The Welsh word llawr [ɬau̯r] means floor, deck, gallery, stage, platform, cellar, basement, ground, face, and a few other things. I discovered today that it has cognates in all the other Celtic languages: – leur (Cornish) = floor, ground – leur (Breton) = area, ground, floor, soil – lár (Irish) = ground, floor, middle, centre […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Dutch, English, Etymology, Irish, Italian, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Wheels with teeth

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 […]

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Giggling wrigglers

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 […]

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Boxing tips

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, and there are a number of ideas about the origins of the name. The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines Boxing Day as: “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box” The earliest […]

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Neither fur nor feather

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 […]

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Have you got your snap?

On an episode of Uncle Mort’s North Country, a comedy drama on Radio 4 Extra that I listened to today, I heard the word snap used for a packed lunch. I’e heard it before, but wasn’t sure where it came from. The drama features two characters from Yorkshire: Uncle Mort and his nephew, Carter Brandon, […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Please alight

I received an email yesterday asking about the Swiss German equivalent of Bitte verlassen Sie den Zug (Please alight from the train). Does anybody know? Are announcements on Swiss trains in Swiss German or Standard German (Hochdeutsch)? What other languages are they in? Or does it depend on where you are in Switzerland? This got […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Joskins, bumpkins and yokels

Last week a friend asked me about the origins of the word joskin [ˈdʒɒskɪn], which I hadn’t come across before. According to the Urban Dictionary it is defined as follows: North-Walian term used in both English and Welsh to describe anyone from a rural or farming background. It is used both affectionately and in a […]

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Les chuchoteuses

On Rue Staint-Paul in Vieux Montréal there’s a statue of three women having a gossip. It’s known as ‘Les chuchoteuses‘ or ‘The whisperers’. It’s also known as the “fat ladies talking statue”. It’s by Rose-Aimée Bélanger, a sculptor from Ontario, and was installed as part of a 2006 initiative to highlight some of Old Montreal’s […]

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Multilingual Manchester

I had a multilingual day in Manchester today – I spent part of it listening to choirs and other groups performing as part of the Manchester Day celebrations. They sang in English, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Maori, Hebrew and Yiddish, and I also watched the Manchester Day parade. I also went to the Polyglot Pub, a […]

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