Archive for the Category: English


Here’s an interesting article on the BBC website about anti-languages, such as Thieves Cant, Polari and Gobbledygook. They have been around at least since Tudor times, and are used as secret slang by prisoners, escaped slaves, criminal gangs and gay people to keep their activities secret from the police and other authorities. Any group of […]

Also posted in Language 1 Comment

Languages in Newcastle

Last weekend I went to see a friend in Newcastle, and while we were exploring the place, I was listening out for languages other than English. The only ones I heard were Mandarin and Spanish, and my friend and I spoken mainly in English and Welsh, with a bit of Czech thrown in for variety. […]

Also posted in Chinese, Czech, Language, Spanish, Travel, Welsh 8 Comments


Did you know that the practice of putting spaces between words was started by Irish monks writing in Latin? This is what I discovered from an episode of the Allusionist – apparently when Christianity arrived in Ireland in the 6th century and people started writing in Latin, they put spaces between the words to make […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Latin, Writing 4 Comments

A not entirely uninteresting post

The title of this post is perhaps an example of litotes [laɪˈtəʊ.tiːz], a figure of speech that uses understatement, particularly double negatives, to make a positive statement [source]. Other examples include: – I didn’t do too badly in the test – It’s a bit chilly – He’s not a bad guitarist Litotes comes from the […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

When is an MBA a person?

An article I added to Omniglot today, The Most Valuable Languages for an MBA to Learn, uses “an MBA” to refer to a person with an MBA. I’ve also seen students referred to in a similar way: for example a student of French might be ‘a French Major’, and someone with a PhD in linguistics […]

Also posted in Language 6 Comments

The Power of Procrastination

Are you a procrastinator? Do you find yourself doing all sorts of things to avoid doing something you have to do? For example, when you should be revising for an exam you keep finding other things to do which you convince yourself are essential and have to be done right now, such as cleaning, putting […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Awakening forgotten languages

Last night at ukulele club there was a new member from Spain, and I talked a bit with her in Spanish. It’s a long time since I’ve studied any Spanish, and I rarely use it these days, so I thought I’d forgotten most of it, but I found that I can still have a basic […]

Also posted in German, Language, Language learning, Spanish 3 Comments

Totes amazesh!

According to an article I found the other day, some people on Twitter are playing with language in interesting ways and creating new abbreviations and words like tradge (tragic), bluebs (blueberries), emosh (emotional) and hilars (hilarious) and atrosh (atrocious). This phenomenon has been dubbed totesing by the linguists Lauren Spradlin and Taylor Jones, who have […]

Also posted in Language 4 Comments

Stalls, stinkards and parterres

In theatres in the UK the seats at ground level in front of the stage are usually known as stalls or orchestra stalls. If there are balconies above that level, the first balcony might be known as the dress circle, grand circle or balcony, the second as the upper circle, grand circle, first circle or […]

Also posted in French, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Dystopias and Utopias

Why is it that so many films and novels set in the future are dystopian? I thought about this after watching The Hunger Games last night, and tried to think of any stories of utopian futures. The only films I could think featuring non-dystopian futures of were Back to the Future II and Bicentennial Man. […]

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