Archive for the Category: Italian

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

Free online language course to give away

I’ve been given free access to the online courses offered by Online Trainers to give them a try, and have one course to give away. The languages available are English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. If you’re interested, just drop me an email at feedback[at]omniglot[dot]com and I’ll send you an access code that gives […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, French, German, Language, Language learning, Spanish 2 Comments

Cars, carts and chariots

Last week I was told that the English word car originally comes from the Irish word carr (donkey cart). Apparently when cars came to Ireland Irish speakers thought it was better to come up with a new word for them than to name them after the humble donkey cart, so the term gluaisteán (‘moving thing’) […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Baguette de tambour

Yesterday I discovered that in French a drumstick is a baguette de tambour, which conjured up images of French drummers playing their drums with long loaves of bread. The word baguette comes from the Italian word bacchetta (little rod), a diminutive of bacchio (rod), from the Latin baculum (stick, staff). As well as meaning a […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 7 Comments
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