Archive for the Category: Italian

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 […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 7 Comments


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 […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, Etymology, French, German, Greek, Language, Latin, Polish, Spanish, Welsh 3 Comments

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

Summer chicks and glowing coals

Last night we were talking about the Pili Palas on Anglesey, a butterfly centre, which also has birds, snakes and other exotic creatures. The name is a pun combining pili-pala (butterfly) and palas (palace) – it took me ages to realise this. We were trying to think of the words for butterfly in various other […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, German, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 6 Comments


Nadolig Llawen Joyeux Noël 聖誕快樂 Nollaig shona doibh ¡Feliz Navidad! Nollick Ghennal Bo Nadal Nollaig chridheil メリークリスマス Buon Natale Frohe Weihnachten Bon Nadal Veselé vánoce and Merry Christmas!

Also posted in Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh 18 Comments

nu-i asa?

A correspondent would like to know the Romanian equivalent of the tag questions like n’est-ce pas? (French), non e vero? (Italian), ¿verdad? (Spanish), ne pravda? (Czech). I found nu-i asa? via Google translate, and this brings up over 3 million results in Google, so might just be correct. Do other languages use similar tags?

Also posted in French, Language, Romanian, Spanish, Words and phrases 39 Comments


épouvantail (nf) objet, mannequin disposé dans les champs, dans les arbres, pour effrayer les oiseaux et les faire fuir (scarecrow) familièrement personne présentant un aspect extérieur repoussant (bogey, bugbear) quelqu’un ou quelque chose qui effraie sans raison (fright) [source] For some reason we were talking about scarecrows or épouvantails at the French conversation group last […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, Etymology, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Language, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 15 Comments


William Caxton introduced printing into England, and also translated a number of literary works from French, Latin and Dutch. Within his translations he used words he picked up while learning and practising his trade in Germany and Belgium, including spincop, from the Dutch spinnekop (spider), and okselle, from the Dutch oksel (armpit). The English word […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, French, German, Language, Latin, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Word of the day – ig

The Welsh word ig (plural: igion) means hiccough. The verb, to hiccough / sob, is igian, igio or igion. When I’m singing or playing the tin whistle or other wind instruments I often get hiccoughs, and the other day I was trying to explain this to a Welsh friend in Welsh, but didn’t know the […]

Also posted in Czech, English, French, Irish, Language, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 20 Comments

Leaght y Ghaaue

Last night I went to a fascinating lecture in Manx about Venice which covered the city’s history, architecture, transport and much more. It was given by Bob Carswell, a Manx speaker, translator, poet and broadcaster who regularly talks with great enthusiasm about a wide range of topics on his radio programme, Claare ny Gael. The […]

Also posted in English, Language, Manx 18 Comments
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