Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

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”), […]

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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

Curing, cleaning and caring

Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different French translations of the verb to cure, depending on what kind of cure you’re talking about. If you’re curing food by salting, the French equivalent is saler (to salt); curing by smoking is fumer (to smoke), and curing by drying is sécher (to dry). Curing […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh 3 Comments

Woordenschat

I came across an interesting Dutch word today – Woordenschat [ˈʋoːɾdəsxɑt] – which means vocabulary. Woorden = words and schat = treasure, and also love honey, darling, sweetheart. So woordenschat is a “treasure of words” or “word treasure”. It reminds me of the English expression wordhoard, an alternative term for vocabulary, from the Old English […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language 10 Comments

Producing oneself

I came across an interesting expression in a French newspaper article I read today – se produire – which means to produce, occur, take place, perform, appear, and appears in such phrases as: – devoir se produire = to be bound to happen – se produire sur scène = to appear on stage – ce […]

Also posted in English, French, Language 3 Comments

Grammatical gender matters

In languages with grammatical gender, like French, you can often get away with getting the genders wrong, although it’s best to try to learn them when you learn nouns. However there are some words that have different meanings in different genders. An example in French is loup(e): le loup [lu:] (masculine) is a wolf, and […]

Also posted in English, French, Language 2 Comments

Voices and calls

After writing yesterday’s post I was thinking about the Czech word hlas [ɦɫas] (voice, vote) and realised that it is quite similar to the Welsh word for voice, llais [ɬais]. I wondered it they share the same root. Hlas comes from the Proto-Slavic *golsъ (voice), from the Proto-Balto-Slavic *galsas (voice), from the Proto-Indo-European *golHsos, from […]

Also posted in Czech, Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Old Norse, Polish, Proto-Indo-European, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Slovak, Welsh 2 Comments

Souhlasím

I learnt a useful Czech expression today – souhlasím – which means ‘I agree; all right; ok(ay)’. The element hlas (voice; sound; vote) I recognise, and I guessed that the prefix sou- might mean together, or something similar. According to Wiktionary, sou- is akin to the English prefix co- (together, mutually, jointly), so souhlasím might […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Etymology, Language 3 Comments