Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Ultracrepidarianism

Are you an ultracrepidiarianist? Or maybe that should be ultracrepidiarian. Many of us are. An ultracrepidarianism is someone who makes a habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside their knowledge or competence. It’s a word I came across in Think Like a Freak, and interesting book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. […]

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Les coups de glotte and other coups

Yesterday I discovered that the French for glottal stop is coup de glotte (“blow of the glottis”). The word coup (blow, shot, stroke, wave, kick, punch, move) appears in many other expressions, including: – (donner un) coup de balai = (to) sweep; shake up – coup de vent = blow of wind – coup de […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language 2 Comments

Gabions and the importance of names

The other day I discovered that the name for those wire cages filled with rocks used in construction and to stabilise river banks, hillsides and shorelines are called gabions. The word comes from the Italian gabbione (big cage), which comes from the Latin cavea (cage). There are plenty of gabions around here, but I didn’t […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin 5 Comments

Novi Sad

As I’m going to the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad (Нови Сад) [nôʋiː sâːd] in October, I thought I should find out what Novi Sad actually means – it’s the kind of thing I like to know. I guessed that Novi probably means new, but had no idea what Sad might mean. According to this […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian 3 Comments

Going through the motions

In German there are two main verbs that mean ‘to go’: gehen, which is used in expressions about going in general, and particularly going on foot / walking; and fahren, which refers particularly to going/travelling in a form of transport (car, train, bus, boat, etc). So I could said, “Am Samstag gehe ich nach Berlin” […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, German, Language 6 Comments

Stockungen

While listening to Deutschlandradio this morning one word that kept on coming up and that I didn’t understand was Stockung. It appears mainly in traffic reports, so I assume it meant something like delays or traffic jams. According to Reverso, Stockung means: – interruption, hold-up; congestion, traffic jam, hold-up – breakdown (in negotiations) – slackening […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European 8 Comments

Cuckoo bells

I discovered this week that in Welsh bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are known as Clychau’r Gog (“cuckoo bells”), which I really like the sound of. They are also known as Bwtias y Gog (“cuckoo’s boots”), Croeso Haf (“welcome summer”), Cennin y Brain (“crows’ leeks”), Clychau’r Eos (“nightingale’s bells”), Glas y Llwyn (“green blue of the grove”), […]

Also posted in Breton, English, French, Language, Welsh 7 Comments

LOL @ 25

According to an article I found in The Guardian today the accronym LOL (laughing out loud) first appeared 25 years ago in the International FidoNet Association Newsletter dated 8 May 1989. The article mentions a few equivalents in other languages: “ㅋㅋㅋ” (KKK) in Korean; MDR or mort de rire (died of laughter) in French; and […]

Also posted in English, Language 4 Comments

Knock Cnoc

The element Knock is quite common in place names in Ireland, e.g. Ballyknock, Castleknock, Gortknock, Kilknock and Knockaderry [source]. There’s also quite a few places called simply Knock, the best known of which is the Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland , which is known as An Cnoc (the hill) or Cnoc […]

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Logoburroo and other place names

If an Australian visitor to the UK asked you for directions to somewhere they called Logoburroo [lɔgɜʉbəˈrʊː] would you know what place they were referring to? A friend of mine heard an Australian pronouncing Loughborough, a town in Leicestershire in central England, in this way and thought it was an interesting attempt at the name. […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European 12 Comments