Archive for the Category: English

A Monkey’s Wedding

On an episode of The World in Words podcast that I listened to today I learnt the expression “a monkey’s wedding“, which is apparently what you call a day when rain falls while the sun is shining, at least if you live in South Africa or Zimbabwe. As this is quite a common phenomenon in […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Will you be pernoctating?

If someone asked you if you were planning to pernoctate, would you know what they meant? This is a word I came across today in the blog A Linguist Abroad in a post about ‘Interesting’ Cambridge rules. It appears in the sentence: A Tutor (the pernoctating Tutor) is on duty every night and may stop […]

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

Caledonian Antisyzygy

In the Alexander McCall-Smith novel I just finished reading, The Revolving Door of Life, the concept of antisyzygy, and particularly Caledonian antisyzygy, comes up. I had to look it up as I didn’t know what it meant or how to pronounce it. The term Caledonian Antisyzygy refers to the “idea of dueling polarities within one […]

Also posted in Etymology, Greek, Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Ti a Chi

There was an interesting discussion this morning on Radio Cymru about the use of pronouns in Welsh. Like in many languages, there are different forms of the second person pronoun in Welsh: – ti [tiː] = you singular and informal – chi [χiː] = you plural, and formal you singular and plural – chdi [χdiː] […]

Also posted in Etymology, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 1 Comment

The World in Words

I recently came across a fascinating podcast – The World in Words – where they talk about all sorts of language-related topics, from the origins of the Etruscan language to language policy in Canada. It is well worth a listen for anybody interested in language. Do you know of any similar podcasts or radio programmes?

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Kernewek

I started learning Cornish yesterday. Mainly because it’s the only Celtic language I haven’t studied yet, and I’m curious about it. I’m using the course SaySomethingin Cornish, and am finding it very good. I like the way the course is put together – you learn a small number of words and structures in each lesson […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Language, Language learning, Welsh Leave a comment

Escroquerie

An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

Also posted in French, Italian, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Cheese flies

Apparently it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day today. It’s also National Licorice Day, and Be Kind to Lawyers Day, at least in the USA. Is it a special day elsewhere? The equivalent of the grilled cheese sandwich in the UK is known as cheese on toast, and in French it’s known as a Croque Monsieur, […]

Also posted in French, Language Leave a comment

Multilingual Britain

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Kerstin Cable about the languages of the British Isles for the The Creative Language Learning Podcast, which she makes with Lindsey Dow of Lindsey Does Languages. The podcast is now online as The Secret Languages of Great Britain. In the podcast we talk about the indigenous languages […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Language learning, Manx, Polish, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Sign language, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Finnish Language Day

Apparently today is Finnish Language Day or Suomen kielen päivä. It is the anniversary of the death of Mikael Agricola (c. 1510-1557), a clergyman who is known as the “father of literary Finnish” – he translated religious works into Finnish, including the New Testament, and modern Finnish spelling is based on his work. Before then […]

Also posted in Finnish, General, Language, Manx 2 Comments
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