Archive for the Category: English

Wheels with teeth

I discovered last night that in French a cog is a une dent, which also means a tooth, or une dent d’engrenage (“tooth gear”), and a cog wheel is une roue dentée (a toothed wheel), which is kind of a cog looks like. The English word cog, meaning a tooth on a gear, or a […]

Also posted in Etymology, French, German, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Polyglot Pub

Last week I went to the Polyglot Pub in London. I’ve been to similar events in Manchester and Liverpool, but this is the first one I’ve been to in London. It takes place once a month, usually at Penderel’s Oak, a pub in Holborn, and this month there were about 16 people there. The conversation […]

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A Wayzgoose Chase

What do you call a printer that doesn’t work? A wayzgoose [ˈweɪzɡuːs]. A wayzgoose‽ What’s that? According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, a wayzgoose is “An annual summer dinner or outing held by a printing house for its employees.” The Oxford Dictionaries blog says that: the wayzgoose was originally an entertainment given by a master-printer […]

Also posted in Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Going spooning

There’s a tradition in Wales of men carving spoons out of wood and presenting them to the ladies they love. If a lady accepts a spoon, then she and the man are considered a couple – engagements and weddings were apparently not common in rural Wales until the 18th century [source]. The websites that discuss […]

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Giggling wrigglers

I learnt a nice new German word today – kichern [ˈkɪçɐn], which means to giggle or snicker. Related expressions include: – ein Kicheranfall = a fit of the giggles – Wir haben uns darüber gekringelt = We had a good giggle about it – anfangen herumzukichern = to get the giggles This also got me […]

Also posted in German, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Weathered pagodas and stretching times

The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Czech, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Language plans

While I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, I do make language plans. This year I’m continuing to learn Russian and Cornish, and would like to learn a bit of Slovak before the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava in May/June, and some Icelandic before the Polyglot Conference in Reykjavik in October. I’m using Duolingo to learn […]

Also posted in Cornish, Language, Language learning, Romanian, Russian 1 Comment

Partridges and pear trees

In the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, the gift given on the first day is a partridge in a pear tree. As partridges nest on the ground and are unlikely to be found in pear trees, this seems a bit strange to me. A possible reason why partridge is in the pear tree in […]

Also posted in French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Hovercrafts and eels

I like to play with idioms and sayings, and sometimes come up with new ones. The saying ‘my hovercraft is full of eels’ is very useful to know in a variety of languages, and here are some idioms based on this phrase that I was inspired to come up with this week, plus a few […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Boxing tips

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, and there are a number of ideas about the origins of the name. The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines Boxing Day as: “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box” The earliest […]

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