Archive for the Category: English


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, German, Language, Translation, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Pip pip!

In English, at least the English I speak, the seeds you find in fruit have different names depending on the kind of fruit. Those found in citrus fruit, grapes, apples and pears I would call pips, while those found in peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries and apricots and similar kinds of fruit I would call stones. […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Multilingual New York

One thing I noticed in New York was that there was a lot of Spanish around – in bilingual English/Spanish signs at the airport, and on trains and boats. There were also multilingual signs on the subway in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Haitian Creole. I heard many languages being spoken by local people […]

Also posted in Language, Spanish 5 Comments

Back in Bangor

I arrived back from New York a few hours ago after an overnight flight from JFK to Manchester. The flight went smoothly, apart from a bit if bumpiness at one point, and I managed to sleep a bit. The sun was shining in Manchester and in Bangor, though it’s a lot cooler here than it […]

Also posted in Chinese, Irish, Language, Welsh Leave a comment

Polyglot Conference, New York

This weekend I am in New York for the 2015 Polyglot Conference. I arrived yesterday afternoon after an uneventful flight from Manchester. It took a couple of hours to get out of the airport, and another hour or so to Manhattan. Last night I met up with some other polyglots near the Statan Island ferry […]

Also posted in Chinese, Conlangs, Esperanto, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Language, Manx, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Taiwanese, Toki Pona, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Irish and Ndebele

Yesterday I went to Global Café, a group for international students which I’ve been going to on and off since I was a student myself. I use it as a chance to meet people and practise my languages, and I got to speak quite a few different languages last night, including Welsh, French, Irish, Mandarin, […]

Also posted in Arabic, Chinese, German, Irish, Language, Malay, Welsh 2 Comments

Hi. Keefak? Ça va?

What language(s) do they speak in Beirut? According to an interesting programme and article I came across today, many people in Beirut speak Arabic, French and English, and frequently switch between them, often using two of them, or all three in the same sentence. While some might see this kind codeswitching as a sign that […]

Also posted in Arabic, French, Language, Welsh 2 Comments

Language learning – better, easier, quicker

People who make language learning apps, online language courses and similar sometimes contact me asking me to review their apps/courses, and to link to them / promote them on Omniglot. This is often in exchange for free use of their courses for a certain period. This is exactly the kind of thing I hoped might […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning Leave a comment

sina toki ala toki e toki pona?

Last week I started learning Toki Pona, the language consisting of just 120 words created by Sonja Lang in 2001. I’ve been thinking about giving it a try since the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last year, when I went to talk about the language and met people who speak it, and Sonja herself. It’s an […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning, Toki Pona 3 Comments

Custard sandwiches and pancakes

The Welsh word for sandwich is brechdan [ˈbrɛxdan], which comes from the Irish word brechtán (butter, fat), according to the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. However according to MacBain’s Dictionary, is related to the Scottish Gaelic word for pancake, breacag, which is related to breachdan (custard), which comes from the Middle Irish breachtán (a roll), which is […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment
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