Archive for the Category: Japanese

Needle Mouse and the Clockwork Octopus

There’s a Japanese word that means ‘needle mouse’ when literally translated. What kind of animal do you think it is? It is in fact a hedgehog. It is written 針鼠 and pronounced harinezumi: 針 (hari) means needle, pin, hook, stinger; thorn, hand (of clock), pointer or staple. 鼠 (nezumi, nezu, shi, sho) means rat, mouse […]

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Cold Wintry Wind

I learnt an interesting Japanese word and kanji today – 凩 (こがらし / kogarashi), which means ‘cold wintry wind’ or ‘the cold wind that reminds us winter is coming’. It is also written 木枯し or 木枯, and is considered ‘untranslatable‘ by some. The character 凩 is a 国字 (こくじ / kokuji), that is one that […]

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もしもし (moshi moshi)

When answering the phone in Japanese the phrase you usually used is もしもし (moshi moshi). I received an email from a Japanese guy today saying that this doesn’t mean hello, so I thought I’d find out what it actually means. According to Tofugu, this phrase comes from the verb 申す (mōsu), which a humble equivalent […]

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Mony a mickle maks a muckle

There’s a Scots saying Mony a mickle maks a muckle, or Many a mickle makes a muckle, which means “A lot of small amounts, put together, become a large amount”. The word muckle certainly means large, and also big, great; much, a great deal of, a lot of; grown-up, mature, adult; of great social consequence, […]

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Eating sideways

An interesting Japanese word I came across today in an article on ‘untranslatable’ words is 横飯 (yokomeshi) which is used to describe the stress of speaking a foreign language. It comes from 横 (yoko – horizontal) and 飯 (meshi – boiled rice, a meal, food), and could be translated as ‘a meal eaten sideways’. This […]

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Polyglotting in Montreal

Yesterday was the first day of the North American Polyglot Symposium in Montreal. It’s taking place at Concordia University, which has two campuses – one downtown, and one quite a way out of town. I went to the out of town one by mistake, and walked a few miles to get there from the nearest […]

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Multilingual Manchester

I had a multilingual day in Manchester today – I spent part of it listening to choirs and other groups performing as part of the Manchester Day celebrations. They sang in English, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Maori, Hebrew and Yiddish, and I also watched the Manchester Day parade. I also went to the Polyglot Pub, a […]

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Reflections on the Polyglot Gathering

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin late on Monday night. I travelled by train the whole way, which is a bit more expensive than the plane, and takes a few hours longer, but I prefer to travel this way, and you see more. The journey went smoothly, apart from the train from […]

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Polyglot Gathering 2016

I’m currently at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. I arrived here on Wednesday evening and have been speaking and hearing lots of different languages. So far I’ve had conversations in English, French, Welsh, German, Irish and Mandarin, and spoken bits and pieces of Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Portuguese, Toki Pona and Esperanto. I’ve also heard […]

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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

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