Archive for the Category: Italian

Parades

Last weekend I saw a couple of parades – a small and rather damp one in Bangor on Saturday that was part of the Bangor Carnival – and a rather bigger and more elaborate one on Sunday in Manchester that was part of the Manchester Day celebrations. This got me wondering about the origins of […]

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Panache, pegs and pinafores

One thing we discussed last night at the French Conversation Group was whether panache means the same thing in French as it does in English. According to the OED, panache [/pəˈnaʃ/ (UK) /pəˈnæʃ/ (USA)] comes from the Middle French pennache, which originally meant a tuft or plume of feathers, and by the late 19th century […]

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Stookies, stucco and stalks

I heard the word stookie on the radio the other day as was mystyfied as the it’s meaning – the context didn’t help. Forunately the person who mentioned it explained that it’s a Scottish word for plaster cast – the kind of thing you might have on a limb if you facture a bone. It’s […]

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Today and tomorrow

Yesterday a friend asked me about the origins of the words today and tomorrow, and whether the to- part of them was orginally the. You sometimes come across expressions like ‘on the morrow’, and words appear with hypens in older texts: to-day and to-morrow. According to the OED, today comes from the Old English tó […]

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Word skipping to Venus

I was asked today about the origins of the word worship. The person who asked was told by a highly-educated minister that “worship” is derived from an old English word, “word-skip”. Supposedly, “word-skip” means “word shaper” or “shaper of words”. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary: worship comes from the Old English worðscip, wurðscip (Anglian), […]

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Gala

Last week I went to an event described as a ‘gala concert’ at Bangor University. A friend asked what gala actually means; I wasn’t sure, so decided to find out. According to the OED, gala (/ˈgaːlə/, /ˈgeɪlə/) means “gala dress, festal attire”; “a festive occasion; a festival characterized by the display of finery and show” […]

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Shaking paillasses

In French une paillasse /pajas/ is a straw mattress, draining board or laboratory bench and un paillasse is a clown. The former is a combination of paille (straw) plus the suffix -asse. Paille comes from the Latin palea, from the Ancient Greek πάλλω (pallo = to shake) because you have to shake the straw to […]

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Maltese (Malti)

Today I received some new translations for the Maltese phrases page, and what struck me when adding the phrases was the mixed nature of Maltese vocabulary – about half the words come from Italian and Sicilian, a quarter from English and the rest from Arabic. The Italian/Sicilian borrowings I spotted include: – Bonġornu = Good […]

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Ventriloquism

There was quite a bit of talk about ventriloquism on an episode of QI I watched recently, mainly because one of the guests was a ventriloquist. The word ventriloquism comes for the Latin words venter (stomach, belly, womb) and loquī (to speak) so it means “to speak from the stomach”. It was known as εγγαστριμυθία […]

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New Finnish Grammar

I’m currently reading New Finnish Grammar, an English translation of Diego Marani’s novel Nuova grammatica finlandese. It is the story of a man who is found unconscious with a serious head injury on a street in Trieste and who is cared for by a Finnish doctor, who believes he is Finnish as his jacket has […]

Also posted in English, Finnish, Language, Translation 9 Comments
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