Archive for the Category: Arabic

Irish and Ndebele

Yesterday I went to Global Café, a group for international students which I’ve been going to on and off since I was a student myself. I use it as a chance to meet people and practise my languages, and I got to speak quite a few different languages last night, including Welsh, French, Irish, Mandarin, […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, German, Irish, Language, Malay, Welsh 2 Comments

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 English, French, Language, Welsh 2 Comments

An owlfully badgered cup of tea

Yesterday I discovered that the Italian word for cup, tazza, is rather similar and possibly confusable with the word for badger, tasso, which can also mean a rate (of exchange) or a yew (tree). It’s unlikely that if you mistakenly ask for un tasso di tè rather than una tazza di tè, you will be […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, German, Italian, Language, Persian (Farsi), Words and phrases 10 Comments

Water lilies, nymphs and blue lotuses

There was talk of ponds and water lilies last night at the French conversation group and I discovered that one French word for water lily is nymphéa [nɛ̃.fe.a], which comes from nymphaea the Latin name for this genus of plants. The Latin word comes from the Ancient Greek word νύμφη (nymphe), which means girl, and […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Sanskrit, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Languages in the UK

Today I found maps on the Guardian website which show the percentages of speakers of languages other than English in a number of major UK cities. It is based on data from the 2011 census and shows where the speakers are concentrated. For example, the main concentration of Bengali speakers is in East London around […]

Also posted in Language, Polish 6 Comments

Best languages to study

According to an article I came across in the Daily Telegraph today, the best / most useful languages to study, for those in the UK, are: 1. German 2. French 3. Spanish 4. Mandarin 5. Polish 6. Arabic 7. Cantonese 8. Russian 9. Japanese 10. Portuguese The reasons why each language is useful vary quite […]

Also posted in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish 6 Comments

Little quiz on lesser-spoken languages

Just thought I’d share this with you here: – see how good your knowledge of endangered and lesser-spoken languages is. In other news, Arabic has become the language of choice for Facebook in the Middle East and North Africa, according to this report. It’s overtaken English in popularity and left French behind. What language […]

Also posted in English, French, Language 11 Comments

Gilets et camisoles

Last night at the French Conversation Group we were discussing various words for clothing in French. One word the seems to cover quite a few different types of clothing is gilet /ʒi.lɛ/, which on its own means a sleeveless jacket similar to a waistcoat (vest in American English), and apparently comes from the Maghrebi Arabic […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Turkish, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Arabic puzzles

These images was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot who would like to know what they mean. Can you help?

Also posted in Language, Puzzles, Writing 3 Comments

Ingrown languages

In an interesting book I read recently, What Language Is by John McWhorter, the author discusses why some languages appear a lot more complicated or ‘ingrown’ than others. He gives the example of Persian and Pashto, two Iranian languages spoken in a number of countries in western and central Asia. Whereas Persian has more or […]

Also posted in English, Language, Language acquisition, Language learning, Spanish 7 Comments
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