Archive for the Category: Words and phrases

In the Land of the Eagles

Yesterday I climbed Snowdon with other members of the Bangor Ukulele Society. We set off from Pen-y-Pass (The head/top of the pass) and took the Miner’s Track to the top, then went down the Llanberis Path. On the way up and the way down we stopped a number of times to sing a few songs, […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh 2 Comments

Soggy days

This morning the weather app on my phone told me that it would be a soggy day today. It wasn’t wrong – it rained all morning and much of the afternoon. When I saw the word soggy I started wondering whether days could be described as soggy in other languages. It seems you can talk […]

Also posted in English, French, Language 1 Comment

A Monkey’s Wedding

On an episode of The World in Words podcast that I listened to today I learnt the expression “a monkey’s wedding“, which is apparently what you call a day when rain falls while the sun is shining, at least if you live in South Africa or Zimbabwe. As this is quite a common phenomenon in […]

Also posted in English, Language 10 Comments

Will you be pernoctating?

If someone asked you if you were planning to pernoctate, would you know what they meant? This is a word I came across today in the blog A Linguist Abroad in a post about ‘Interesting’ Cambridge rules. It appears in the sentence: A Tutor (the pernoctating Tutor) is on duty every night and may stop […]

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

Caledonian Antisyzygy

In the Alexander McCall-Smith novel I just finished reading, The Revolving Door of Life, the concept of antisyzygy, and particularly Caledonian antisyzygy, comes up. I had to look it up as I didn’t know what it meant or how to pronounce it. The term Caledonian Antisyzygy refers to the “idea of dueling polarities within one […]

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Ti a Chi

There was an interesting discussion this morning on Radio Cymru about the use of pronouns in Welsh. Like in many languages, there are different forms of the second person pronoun in Welsh: – ti [tiː] = you singular and informal – chi [χiː] = you plural, and formal you singular and plural – chdi [χdiː] […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Proto-Indo-European 1 Comment

Escroquerie

An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

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

Snollygoster

I came across the wonderful word snollygoster [ˈsnɒlɪˌɡɒstə] today. It is defined as follows: – One, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. – A politician who cares more for personal gain than serving the people (Slang, USA) From: The Free Dictionary. – A shrewd person not […]

Also posted in English, German, Language 2 Comments

Throats and trees

One Scottish Gaelic expression I learnt last week was “Tha craobh air mo sgòrnan” or literally “There’s a tree on my throat”. This is the Gaelic equivalent of “There’s a frog in my throat”, which is used when you are rendered temporarily speechless due to a small amphibian taking up residence in your oesophagus, or […]

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Šup!

Last week I learnt a useful Czech word – Šup! – which can mean Whoosh!, Go!, Move!, Hurry up! and similar, and Šup šup! means Chop-chop! A more polite way to say the same thing is pojďme, which literally means “Let’s (do something)”. Here are some examples of usage: – Pojďme na procházku = Let’s […]

Also posted in Czech, English, Language 2 Comments
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