Archive for the Category: English

Muddling through

to muddle through – “to succeed in some undertaking in spite of lack of organization” [source] – “to succeed in doing something despite having no clear plan, method, or suitable equipment” [source] – “to cope more or less satisfactorily despite lack of expertise, planning, or equipment.” synonyms: to cope, manage, get by/along, scrape by/along, make […]

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Also posted in Language, Language learning, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Reverse psychology and language learning

Yesterday I met Aran Jones, the guy behind the website SaySomethingin.com, and we had a very interesting chat, in Welsh, about language learning. His site started as a Welsh language course, and now also offers courses in Cornish, Dutch, Latin and Spanish. You can learn all these languages through English or Welsh, and you can […]

Also posted in Cornish, Dutch, Language, Language learning, Latin, Spanish, Welsh 4 Comments

English only in Lidl

It’s been in the news recently that Lidl supermarkets in the UK have a policy that their staff should speak only English to customers, irrespective of their native language in order to ensure that staff and customers “feel comfortable”. Apparently this is “for the benefit of all our customers as well as our staff to […]

Also posted in Language, Polish, Welsh 5 Comments

Paddling poodles and dibbling ducks

Yesterday I discovered that poodles were bred to hunt ducks and other water fowl in Germany, and that the word poodle comes from the German Pudel, an abbreviation of Pudelhund (water dog), from the Low German Pudel (puddle), from pudeln (to splash about) [source]. The English word puddle is derived from the Old English word […]

Also posted in Etymology, German, Language 3 Comments

Skeuomorphs

I came across an interesting word and concept today – the skeuomorph [ˈskjuːəmɔrf], from the Greek σκεῦος (skéuos – container or tool), and μορφή (morphḗ – shape), and defined as “a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original” [source]. This term was apparently coined by H. Colley […]

Also posted in Etymology, Greek, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Borborygmus

I came across a wonderful word today – borborygmus [bɔrbəˈrɪɡməs] (plural borborygmi) – which refers to a rumble or gurgle in the stomach. It comes from the 16th-century French word borborygme, via Latin from the Ancient Greek βορβορυγμός (borborygmós), which was probably onomatopoetical [source, via The Week]. Are there interesting words for this phenomenon in […]

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

Hollallu

I came across a wonderful word in Welsh today – hollallu [hɔɬˈaɬɨ] – which means omnipotence or almightiness. It is a portmanteau of (h)oll (all, the whole, everything, everyone) and gallu (to be able (to), have power (to), can, be able to accomplish (a thing)), and there are a couple of variant forms: ollallu and […]

Also posted in Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Agley

I came across the interesting word agley today when looking up something else in a Chinese dictionary – the Chinese equivalent is 错 [錯] (cuò). It is a Scots word, pronounced [əˈgli/əˈgləi], that means “off the straight, awry, oblique, wrong”. It comes from the word gley (to squint), according to Wiktionary, which is possible related […]

Also posted in Etymology, Language, Scots 2 Comments

Languages in Bhutan

I listened to a very interesting programme on the BBC about languages in Bhutan today. It mentioned that although the 19 or so indigenous languages of Bhutan have equal status, in theory at least. In practise, particularly in education, the main languages used are Dzongkha / Bhutanese and English, and to a lesser extent, Nepali. […]

Also posted in Endangered languages, Language 1 Comment

We need more ning!

Last night at choir one of the songs we were singing ended with the line “in the mor-ning”, with the mor and ning of morning clearly separated and on different notes. One of the tenors made a joke that we needed more ning in the morning, which appealed to me, and I wondered what ning […]

Also posted in Chinese, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments