Archive for the Category: French

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 […]

Also posted in English, Language 9 Comments

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 1 Comment

Polyglot Conference, New York

This weekend I am in New York for the 2015 Polyglot Conference. I arrived yesterday afternoon after an uneventful flight from Manchester. It took a couple of hours to get out of the airport, and another hour or so to Manhattan. Last night I met up with some other polyglots near the Statan Island ferry […]

Also posted in Chinese, Conlangs, English, Esperanto, German, Irish, Japanese, Language, Manx, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Taiwanese, Toki Pona, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Hi. Keefak? Ça va?

What language(s) do they speak in Beirut? According to an interesting programme and article I came across today, many people in Beirut speak Arabic, French and English, and frequently switch between them, often using two of them, or all three in the same sentence. While some might see this kind codeswitching as a sign that […]

Also posted in Arabic, English, Language, Welsh 2 Comments


When you’re in a restaurant or café, how do you get the attention of a waiter/waitress? This cartoon shows how it can be difficult in France. The customer in the cartoon first says “Please”, then “Sir/Mr”, then “Waiter”, then ‘Can I order?’, then a hour later the waiter finally speaks to him and says, “Sir, […]

Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Awaken the Appetite

A ragout is a highly seasoned meat and vegetable stew, and comes from the French ragoût, which appears to be a general word for stew. Ragoût comes from the Middle French ragoûter (to awaken the appetite), which comes from the Old French re- (back), à (to) and goût (taste), from the Latin gustum (taste), from […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Language learning lethargy

Are there times when you don’t feel like learning languages and can’t summon up much enthusiasm about them? When language learning lethargy strikes, in fact. For me most of August this year was like that – I did use my languages when I had the chance, and spoke quite a bit of French and Welsh, […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Italian, Language, Language learning 5 Comments


I’m happy to announce that Omniglot has partnered with Frantastique to help you enhance your language skills and effectively learn French. Frantastique is a 15 minute daily online training, which is tailored for each user’s level of French. So how does Frantastique work? Your daily lesson is sent by e-mail every morning Every morning, your […]

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No holds barred

I came across the phrase no holds barred today and wondered where it came from. I probably have seen it written down before, but didn’t pay any particular attention to it and thought it was written no holes barred. According The Phrase Finder, this phrase comes from wrestling and refers to wrestling matches in which […]

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Put the kettle on!

I discovered last night that although there is a French word for kettle – bouilloire – kettles are not common in French kitchens. More or less every kitchen in the UK, and Ireland, has a kettle, and a toaster (grille-pain) – they are considered essential equipment. However, according to a friend who used to live […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 8 Comments
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