Archive for the Category: German

Reflections on the Polyglot Gathering

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin late on Monday night. I travelled by train the whole way, which is a bit more expensive than the plane, and takes a few hours longer, but I prefer to travel this way, and you see more. The journey went smoothly, apart from the train from […]

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Polyglot Gathering 2016

I’m currently at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. I arrived here on Wednesday evening and have been speaking and hearing lots of different languages. So far I’ve had conversations in English, French, Welsh, German, Irish and Mandarin, and spoken bits and pieces of Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Portuguese, Toki Pona and Esperanto. I’ve also heard […]

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Snollygoster

I came across the wonderful word snollygoster [ˈsnɒlɪˌɡɒstə] today. It is defined as follows: – One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. – A politician who cares more for personal gain than serving the people (Slang, USA) From: The Free Dictionary. – A shrewd person not […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

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Which are the most learned languages?

When up-dating the Which language should I learn? page on Omniglot this week I decided to try and find out not only which languages have the most speakers, and also which ones have the most learners. The top ten languages in terms of overall number of native (L1) and second language (L2) speakers are: Language […]

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Embracing the other

People who enjoy learning languages, travelling, learning about different cultures and/or meeting people from different countries tend to be more open to difference, and more tolerant. At least that is my experience. While other people might be more inclined to fear the different and the foreign. In UK schools the most widely-taught languages are French, […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Language learning, Spanish 3 Comments

Nix and Natch

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 […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Awakening forgotten languages

Last night at ukulele club there was a new member from Spain, and I talked a bit with her in Spanish. It’s a long time since I’ve studied any Spanish, and I rarely use it these days, so I thought I’d forgotten most of it, but I found that I can still have a basic […]

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Why Weihnachten?

Have you every wondered where the German word for Christmas, Weihnachten, comes from? I have, as it is so different from words for Christmas in other European languages. So I decided to investigate. Weihnachten comes from the Middle High German wīhenahten ‎(Christmas), from a dative plural ze den wīhen nahten ‎(in the holy nights). The […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Untranslatable?

Recently I was sent a link to an infographic containing some apparently untranslatable words for love, and this got me wondering if there really is such a thing as an ‘untranslatable’ word or concept. The words featured in lists of ‘untranslatable’ words are often given poetic-sounding meanings, and other more ordinary and common meanings they […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Translation, Words and phrases 5 Comments
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