Archive for the Category: Italian

One language per day

Last week I decided to try a slightly different language learning strategy. Rather than trying to immerse myself and learning bits of various languages every day, I am focusing on one language each day. This mainly involves listening to online radio and doing online lessons, and also having conversations with people when I can. At […]

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A Snell Wind

The Scots phrase, a snell wind, appears in one of the books I’m reading at the moment, and as I hadn’t come across it before it mystified me a bit. It’s some kind of wind, but what kind? According to the OED, snell is a Scots and Northern English word meaning: 1. (of a person) […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Etymology, German, Language, Scots, Swedish, Words and phrases 4 Comments

An owlfully badgered cup of tea

Yesterday I discovered that the Italian word for cup, tazza, is rather similar and possibly confusable with the word for badger, tasso, which can also mean a rate (of exchange) or a yew (tree). It’s unlikely that if you mistakenly ask for un tasso di tè rather than una tazza di tè, you will be […]

Also posted in Arabic, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Persian (FarsI), Words and phrases 10 Comments

Playing and sounding

The other day I discovered that to play in Italian is giocare or divertirsi, but if you’re playing a musical instruments the word you need is suonare, which also means to ring, sound, strike or toot. So I can say, Suono la chitarra, il piano(forte), il mandolino, il flauto dolce e il fischietto. (I play […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 13 Comments

Thumbs and inches

I discovered today that the French word for thumb, pouce, also means inch, which makes sense as the length of the inch is apparently based on the width of a man’s thumb. Related expressions include: – se tourner les pouces, se rouler les pouces = to twiddle one’s thumbs – manger sur le pouce = […]

Also posted in Afrikaans, Czech, Dutch, English, French, Language, Slovak, Words and phrases 14 Comments

Polyglot chat

Last night there were three of us at the polyglot chat group, which I’ve renamed Bangor Language Learners and which now at different times in a different venue. When I set up the group earlier this year my idea was that it would give me and other polyglots a chance to get together to chat […]

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Dialing a telephone

An email arrived today from Phil S, who has been wondering about the quirkiness of the phrase “to dial a telephone”, which is ubiquitous and exclusive in its meaning and yet has, of course, become totally divorced from the original physicality of the phrase. He would like to know: – What idioms do other languages […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Language, Words and phrases 15 Comments

Archerien

An interesting word that came up in my Breton lesson today is archerien, which means police. It caught my attention because it has no obvious connection to the word police, and because it is completely different to the equivalent words in other Celtic languages: – Welsh: heddlu (“peace force”) – Cornish: kreslu (“peace host”) – […]

Also posted in Breton, Chinese, Cornish, Danish, English, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Language, Latin, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Tag questions, innit!

Tag questions or question tags are interrogative fragments (tags) added to statements making them into sort of questions. They tend to be used more in colloquial speech and informal writing than in formal writing, and can indicate politeness, emphasis, irony, confidence or lack of it, and uncertainty. Some are rhetorical and an answer is not […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Grammar, Irish, Language, Manx, Polish, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh 15 Comments

Newspapers and magpies

What’s the connection between newspapers and magpies? Well, apparently the first newspapers published in Venice and were known as gazeta de la novità and cost one gazeta (Venetian) or gazzetta (Italian), a small coin which had a picture of a magpie on it. A magpie is gazza in Italian and the name of the coin […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments