Archive for the Category: English

Closing out

On some podcasts I listen to, I’ve noticed that the presenters use the phrase close out when talking about the end of the show. For example, they say things like “Finally we will close out with an item about …”, or “It’s now time to close out the show.” To my British ears this expression […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Mysterious abbreviations (MABs)

Recently I’ve noticed the abbreviation MSM appearing in some of the articles I read online. When I first saw it I guessed it had something to do with Microsoft – maybe Microsoft Media, or something like that. Eventually I worked out that it stood for mainstream media. According to Wiktionary, MSM can also stand for […]

Also posted in Language 2 Comments

Nature service

Yesterday I went to see the ankle specialist at the local hospital,. He said that my ankle has healed well and just needs a bit of physiotherapy. I can start to wean myself off the orthopedic boot, using it less and less each day, and crutches as well. I didn’t wear the boot yesterday afternoon, […]

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Calabooses, digging and beds

I came across the word calaboose in a book I read recently and as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context I had to look it up. I also like the sound of it, so thought I’d write about it. A calaboose is an informal American term for a prison or jail. It […]

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

Writing Systems of the World Comparison Chart

Today we have a guest post by Matt Baker I remember the day when, as a child, I first discovered a writing system other than English. I was flipping through an encylopedia (this was the 1980’s, pre-Google) and noticed that, at the beginning of the “A” section, there was a little chart that showed the […]

Also posted in Language, Writing 1 Comment

Working like a horse

The other day I learnt an interesting Russian idiom (via Duolingo) – Работать как лошадь [rɐˈbotətʲ kak ˈloʂətʲ], which means literally “to work like a horse”, and is used to indicate that you are working hard. For example, Сегодня я работаю как лошадь (Today I am working like a horse). You can also work like […]

Also posted in Hebrew, Idioms, Italian, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Flutes and buckles

Six weeks ago today I had a slight mishap while ice skating in London, and managed to dislocate and fracture my ankle – both the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (calf bone). The word tibia comes from the Latin tībia (shin bone, leg). It originally referred to a stalk, or reed pipe, and came to […]

Also posted in Etymology, General, Greek, Language, Latin 3 Comments

Chinese learning tools

This is a guest post by Dimitrios Polychronopoulos When I first started studying Chinese, in Taiwan, back in 1993, I started with the Mandarin phonetic alphabet and traditional characters. Primarily I used bopomofo to learn how to read, in the same way a Taiwanese child learns growing up on the island. Then just more than […]

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When your gran is your granddad

In a book I’m reading at the moment – Border Country by Raymond Williams – one of the characters calls his grandfather ‘Gran‘, which strikes me as unusally. To me gran could only refer to a grandmother. Does it seem strange to you? I only remember one of my grandparents – my dad’s mum – […]

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

Playing games

In English you play a game, but you don’t play a play. In Russian the words for to play and game come from the same root: играть (to play) and игра (game). To play a game is играть в игру. I already knew the verb играть, but didn’t know that the word for a game […]

Also posted in Czech, Etymology, Language, Russian, Slovak, Words and phrases Comments Off on Playing games
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