Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Nebuď směšný!

I came across a lovely Czech word today – směšný [‘smɲeʃni:] – which means funny or ridiculous, and sounds quite funny to me. I think it comes from smích (laughter), from the Proto-Slavic *směxъ [source] Related words include: – směšnost = ridiculousness; absurdity – směšně = ridiculously – smich = laughter – smát = to […]

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Also posted in Czech, English, Language 2 Comments

Sun dribbles

While walking along by estuary of the River Dwyryd at Portmeirion yesterday, the Czech friend I was with asked me the name of the patterns in the sand and mud made by water. I wasn’t sure and suggested ripples or sand ripples. She misheard the latter and thought I said sun dribbles, which I really […]

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Also posted in English, Language, Welsh 3 Comments

Nemocnice

One of the Czech lessons I studied yesterday included the word nemocnice (hospital), and though I hadn’t seen or heard it before, I was familiar with the word nemocný (ill; sick) and guessed from the context that nemocnice was a hospital. It feels good to be able to work out the meanings of words from […]

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Also posted in Czech, English, Language 6 Comments

Vellichor

I came across a number of interesting words today on BuzzFeed, including vellichor, the strange wistfulness of used bookshops, and limerence, the state of being infatuated with another person. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows defines vellichor as: n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands […]

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Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Beech Tree Lane

This morning in Abergele I saw a road called Lôn Ffawydd. I know that lôn is the Welsh for lane, but wondered what ffawydd might mean as I hadn’t seen it before. Ffawydd can mean beech tree, fir tree, chestnut tree, pine tree or fir tree. It appears in such expressions as: – ffawydd Albanaidd […]

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Also posted in English, Language, Welsh 5 Comments

Twistles and forks

There is a place in Lancashire in the north west of England called Oswaldtwistle [ˈɒzəl.twɪzəl], which a friend went to after visiting me yesterday. Naturally, as we’re linguists, we wondered where the name Oswaldtwistle came from and what it might mean. My friend thought it might have something to do with Saint Oswald, who was […]

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Also posted in English, Etymology, German, Language 1 Comment

Schlittschuh laufen

While listening to the German version of Radio Praha this morning I heard them taking about Schlittschuh laufen and wondered what this might involve. I guessed that it had something to do with sliding – Schlitt has a deliciously slidey sound and feel to it – and might be skating or skiing. It is in […]

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Also posted in English, German, Language 3 Comments

Multilingual romance

If you come over all romantic today, for some reason or other, and wish to declare your love for another, this infographic will help you do so in a variety of languages. Source: http://www.justtheflight.co.uk/blog/18-how-to-say-i-love-you-around-the-world.html Note: the sign language referred to here is American Sign Language (ASL). For this phrase in other sign languages see: Spread […]

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Also posted in English, Language 8 Comments

A banana regime

I discovered yesterday that the French equivalent of a bunch of bananas is un régime des bananes. Régime also means (political) regime, (administrative) system, (engine) speed/revs, and un régime alimentaire is a diet. Other French words for bunch include: – un bouquet de fleurs = a bunch of flowers – un trousseau de clés = […]

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Also posted in English, French, Language 3 Comments

Un sabot de Denver

I discovered yesterday that in French a wheel clamp is known as a sabot de Denver (“Denver hoof/clog/shoe/boot”), and wondered what Denver has to do with wheel clamps. On Wikipedia is explains that such devices were first used in Denver, Colorado, and are known as a wheel boot, parking boot or Denver boot in the […]

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Also posted in English, French, Language 2 Comments