Archive for the Category: German

Pfeife

The other day I came across the wonderful German word Pfeife, which means whistle or pipe, and comes from the Middle High German pfife, from Old High German pfiffa, from the Vulgar Latin pipa (pipe; tube-shaped musical instrument), from the Classical Latin pipare (to chirp; to peep), which is of imitative origin, and is also […]

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Towns, gardens and fences

Last week I went to Denbigh, a small town in the north east of Wales, to sing in a concert. On the way there there was some discussion about the origins and meaning of the name Denbigh. So I thought I’d find out more. The English name of the town doesn’t mean anything, but the […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Schrijfrichting / Scriptpath

Last week a visitor to Omniglot asked me whether there is a single word in English that means writing direction, i.e. the direction in which writing systems are written. The Latin alphabet, for example, is written from left to right in horizontal lines, as are many other writing systems, while writing systems like Arabic and […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases, Writing 8 Comments

Smoking Funky Radio

The word radio is based on the verb to radiate, which comes from the Latin radius, which means stick rod; beam, ray (of light); shuttle (of loom); rod for drawing figures (in mathematics), radius of circle; long olive (plant); spoke (of wheel). Radio or radiotelegraphy, the wireless transmission of signals through space by electromagnetic radiation […]

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Gender-neutral German

According to an interesting article I found today in The Guardian, moves are afoot in Germany to try to introduce gender-neutral language. The German Justice Ministry has apparently issued an edict which requires state institutions to use gender-neutral language, which is quite challenging, especially when it comes to job titles and words referring to groups […]

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A Snell Wind

The Scots phrase, a snell wind, appears in one of the books I’m reading at the moment, and as I hadn’t come across it before it mystified me a bit. It’s some kind of wind, but what kind? According to the OED, snell is a Scots and Northern English word meaning: 1. (of a person) […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Etymology, Italian, Language, Scots, Swedish, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Uitsmijter

The other day I came across the wonderful Dutch word uitsmijter, which means bouncer or doorman, and also a type of food consisting of toast, egg(s), ham, bacon or other meat, cheese and pickles is various combinations. Apparently this is the kind of thing that some Dutch people like to eat after the bars close […]

Also posted in Danish, Dutch, English, Etymology, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Ilka dae

While flicking through my Scots language course, Luath Scots Language Learner, this week I discovered that the Scots for every day is ilka dae, which is quite similar to the Dutch elke dag, which I also learnt recently – I like finding connections like this. Neither resembles the English version, or the German jeden Tag. […]

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An owlfully badgered cup of tea

Yesterday I discovered that the Italian word for cup, tazza, is rather similar and possibly confusable with the word for badger, tasso, which can also mean a rate (of exchange) or a yew (tree). It’s unlikely that if you mistakenly ask for un tasso di tè rather than una tazza di tè, you will be […]

Also posted in Arabic, English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Persian (FarsI), Words and phrases 10 Comments

Sumpf

I discovered the wonderful German word Sumpf /zʊmpf/ today while putting together les mots de la semaine for this week from the French conversation group. One of the things that came in conversation was the word marsh, which is le marais or le marécage in French, and Sumpf in German, which I noticed because there’s […]

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