Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

Nix and Natch

The words nix and natch have come up quite a bit in things I’ve read and/or heard recently, so I thought I’d look into their meanings and origins. Nix as a verb means “to ​stop, ​prevent, or ​refuse to ​accept something” and as a noun it means “nothing or no”. These usages are apparently mainly […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, German, Language 7 Comments

Pinkies

What do you call your smallest finger? I call it my little finger, but I hear more and more people in the UK calling it their pinkie / pinky, which I thought was exclusively used in North America. Is this name used in some dialects of English in the UK, or is this an example […]

Also posted in English, Language 4 Comments

A not entirely uninteresting post

The title of this post is perhaps an example of litotes [laɪˈtəʊ.tiːz], a figure of speech that uses understatement, particularly double negatives, to make a positive statement [source]. Other examples include: – I didn’t do too badly in the test – It’s a bit chilly – He’s not a bad guitarist Litotes comes from the […]

Also posted in English, Language 2 Comments

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 […]

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

Dystopias and Utopias

Why is it that so many films and novels set in the future are dystopian? I thought about this after watching The Hunger Games last night, and tried to think of any stories of utopian futures. The only films I could think featuring non-dystopian futures of were Back to the Future II and Bicentennial Man. […]

Also posted in English, Greek, Language 6 Comments

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, […]

Also posted in English, French, Language 9 Comments

Flan cupboards

A Welsh plygain song I’ve been learning recently with some friends (Carol y Swper) features the word fflangell in the line “Ein Meichiau a’n Meddyg dan fflangell Iddweig”. We weren’t sure what it meant at first, and guessed that it was some kind of container for a flan or a flan cupboard. A fflan is […]

Also posted in English, Language, Songs, Welsh 1 Comment

Big fun!

A friend of mine who is learning Welsh likes to translate Welsh expressions literally and then use them in English. One Welsh equivalent of goodbye is hwyl fawr [hʊɨl vaur], which he translates as “big fun”, which sounds quite funny in English. Do any other languages have a phrase used when parting that has a […]

Also posted in English, Language, Translation, Welsh 6 Comments

Why Weihnachten?

Have you every wondered where the German word for Christmas, Weihnachten, comes from? I have, as it is so different from words for Christmas in other European languages. So I decided to investigate. Weihnachten comes from the Middle High German wīhenahten ‎(Christmas), from a dative plural ze den wīhen nahten ‎(in the holy nights). The […]

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

That’s enough!

The Russian word всё (vsjo) [fsʲo] is a useful one that can mean various things depending on the context: everything, still, always, all the time, nevertheless. Here are some examples: – Вот и всё; Это всё = that’s all – Мне всё равно = it’s all the same to me – Я всё равно пойду […]

Also posted in English, Language, Russian 1 Comment
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