Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

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 […]

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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 […]

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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

Pfeife

The other day I came across the wonderful German word Pfeife, which means whistle or pipe, and comes from the Middle High German pfife, from Old High German pfiffa, from the Vulgar Latin pipa (pipe; tube-shaped musical instrument), from the Classical Latin pipare (to chirp; to peep), which is of imitative origin, and is also […]

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Attercop

In The Hobbit, Bilbo uses the words attercop, lazy lob, crazy cob, and old tomnodd as insults he’s attacked by giant spiders in Mirkwood. I guessed that they are alternative names for spiders, but I thought I’d check. Attercop is a word for spider from the Old English átorcoppe, from átor/attor (poison) and coppe, from […]

Also posted in Danish, English, Etymology, Language, Norwegian 5 Comments

Towns, gardens and fences

Last week I went to Denbigh, a small town in the north east of Wales, to sing in a concert. On the way there there was some discussion about the origins and meaning of the name Denbigh. So I thought I’d find out more. The English name of the town doesn’t mean anything, but the […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh 7 Comments

Schrijfrichting / Scriptpath

Last week a visitor to Omniglot asked me whether there is a single word in English that means writing direction, i.e. the direction in which writing systems are written. The Latin alphabet, for example, is written from left to right in horizontal lines, as are many other writing systems, while writing systems like Arabic and […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, German, Language, Writing 8 Comments

Smoking Funky Radio

The word radio is based on the verb to radiate, which comes from the Latin radius, which means stick rod; beam, ray (of light); shuttle (of loom); rod for drawing figures (in mathematics), radius of circle; long olive (plant); spoke (of wheel). Radio or radiotelegraphy, the wireless transmission of signals through space by electromagnetic radiation […]

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