Archive for the Category: English

Frost, Ice cream and Father Christmas

When I learnt a Russian word for frost – мороз (moróz) – this week I thought that the word for ice cream – мороженое (morózhenoe) – might come from the same root. According to Wikitionary they are related: мороженое comes from морозить (to freeze) from мороз, which comes from the Proto-Slavic *morzъ (frost). Related words […]

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Also posted in Language, Russian 3 Comments

Hebrew phrases

Yesterday I received an email telling me that there shouldn’t be Hebrew versions of Merry Christmas and Happy Easter among the Hebrew phrases on my site as, “the Hebrew language is a holy language” and that “if you say Happy Easter, or Merry Christmas in Hebrew you pretty much burn to death in the spot […]

Also posted in Hebrew, Language 10 Comments

Haps and Mishaps

A mishap is “an unlucky accident”, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, and is often accompanied by the word minor – e.g. we had a few minor mishaps in the kitchen, but at least we didn’t burn the chicken. I happened upon the word mishap today and it got me wondering whether the word hap also […]

Also posted in Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Pufflings

The other day I discovered that a young puffin is known as a puffling, which I really like the sound of. There are a few other words that include the -ling suffix that are commonly used: sibling, duckling, underling, earthling, seedling, yearling (an animal that is between one and two years old) – can you […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct

According to an article I came across yesterday the idea that language is an instinct or that there is some kind of language organ in the brain is unlikely to be true. Vyvyan Evans, Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University, argues that, “Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the […]

Also posted in Language, Linguistics 1 Comment

You lucky sausage!

According to a friend who lives in Manchester, a common expression there is “You lucky sausage!”, which is used when someone has some (unexpected) good luck. For example, if you won a prize in a competition, your friends might say, “You lucky sausage you!”. I hadn’t heard this expression before and neither has anybody else […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Merched Nadolig

Last Saturday I was chatting with a Czech friend in Welsh and describing a recent trip to London. One of the things I mentioned was visiting the Christmas market in Hyde Park, although instead of saying marchnad Nadolig (Christmas market) I said merched Nadolig (Christmas girls/women), much to my friend’s amusement. I realised my mistake […]

Also posted in Language, Welsh 3 Comments

Noogies

A interesting word that comes up sometimes in American books I read is noogie [ˈnʊɡi], which is used in the context of one person giving someone else a noogie. The people involved are usually kids, and it sounds like a somewhat unpleasant experience, though until I looked it up, I didn’t know exactly what the […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Interview from Novi Sad

Here’s an interview I did at the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad last month with Lindsay Dow of Lindsay Does Languages. I talk about how Omniglot came into being, and about learning languages, particularly Welsh.

Also posted in Irish, Language, Language learning, Travel, Welsh Leave a comment

Mutual intelligibility

This week I heard an interesting conversation about the mutual intelligibility between Czech and Slovak friends. They were talking in English, but said that when they can talk to each other in their own languages they’re able to understand everything. The Slovak lass said that she finds it strange for Czechs to speak Slovak to […]

Also posted in Czech, Language, Norwegian, Slovak, Swedish 9 Comments