Archive for the Category: French

Escroquerie

An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

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Cheese flies

Apparently it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day today. It’s also National Licorice Day, and Be Kind to Lawyers Day, at least in the USA. Is it a special day elsewhere? The equivalent of the grilled cheese sandwich in the UK is known as cheese on toast, and in French it’s known as a Croque Monsieur, […]

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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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Which are the most learned languages?

When up-dating the Which language should I learn? page on Omniglot this week I decided to try and find out not only which languages have the most speakers, and also which ones have the most learners. The top ten languages in terms of overall number of native (L1) and second language (L2) speakers are: Language […]

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Embracing the other

People who enjoy learning languages, travelling, learning about different cultures and/or meeting people from different countries tend to be more open to difference, and more tolerant. At least that is my experience. While other people might be more inclined to fear the different and the foreign. In UK schools the most widely-taught languages are French, […]

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Stalls, stinkards and parterres

In theatres in the UK the seats at ground level in front of the stage are usually known as stalls or orchestra stalls. If there are balconies above that level, the first balcony might be known as the dress circle, grand circle or balcony, the second as the upper circle, grand circle, first circle or […]

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Matignon and other metonyms

Last night I discovered that the French equivalent of “Number 10”, which in the UK refers to the British Prime Minister, is Matignon or L’Hôtel de Matignon, the official residence of the French Prime Minister. Number 10 is shorthand for Number 10 Downing Street, is the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister, […]

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Sorry, we’re out of smiles

Translation: – A baguette please. – With this? – ? – With a plant please – With this? – With a surfboard please – With this? – With a smile please – Sorry. I don’t have any more of them. The phrase avec ceci ? literally means “with this?”, but I suspect in this context […]

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La vie de baguette

The best-known type of French bread is the baguette, which was possibly introduced to France in the early 19th century by August Zang from Austria, though that’s another story. Baguettes only stay fresh for a day, so what do you do with them once they start to go hard? Here are a few possibilities: Here’s […]

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Multilingual musicians

A Sardinian friend of mine, Elena Piras, knows six languages (Sardinian, Italian, English, Scottish Gaelic, French and Spanish) and sings in most of them, plus a few others, including Scots, Bulgarian and Georgian. Here’s a recording of a performance from earlier this year in which she sings in Sardinian, Scots, English, Scottish Gaelic and Bulgarian. […]

Also posted in Bulgarian, English, Georgian, Italian, Language, Music, Pronunciation, Sardinian, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Songs, Spanish 2 Comments
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