Archive for the Category: Spanish


The word quixotic (/kwɪkˈsɒtɪk/) has come up a number of times in books I’ve been reading recently, and though I sort know what it means, I wasn’t sure, so I thought I’d find out. According to the QED, quixotic means: – Of an action, attribute, idea, etc.: characteristic of or appropriate to Don Quixote; demonstrating […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Polyglot chat

Last night there were three of us at the polyglot chat group, which I’ve renamed Bangor Language Learners and which now at different times in a different venue. When I set up the group earlier this year my idea was that it would give me and other polyglots a chance to get together to chat […]

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An interesting word that came up in my Breton lesson today is archerien, which means police. It caught my attention because it has no obvious connection to the word police, and because it is completely different to the equivalent words in other Celtic languages: – Welsh: heddlu (“peace force”) – Cornish: kreslu (“peace host”) – […]

Also posted in Breton, Chinese, Cornish, Danish, English, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Language, Latin, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Tag questions, innit!

Tag questions or question tags are interrogative fragments (tags) added to statements making them into sort of questions. They tend to be used more in colloquial speech and informal writing than in formal writing, and can indicate politeness, emphasis, irony, confidence or lack of it, and uncertainty. Some are rhetorical and an answer is not […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Grammar, Irish, Italian, Language, Manx, Polish, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh 15 Comments

Royal turkeys and other birds

Last night I discovered the Spanish word pavo real, which means peacock, or literally ‘royal turkey’, and which conjured up an image of a turkey in ermine robes wearing a crown. It also reminds me of the Mandarin Chinese word for swan, 天鵝 [天鹅] (tiān’é), which could be translated as ‘heavenly/celestial goose’. The Mandarin word […]

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Recently I came across a couple of French words I hadn’t seen before – tchatter /tʃa.te/ (to chat) and tchat /tʃat/ (chat). As far as I can tell, they seem to refer particularly to online chat. The definition of tchatter on Reverso is “discuter avec d’autres personnes en temps réel depuis un ordinateur.” (to talk […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Free online language course to give away

I’ve been given free access to the online courses offered by Online Trainers to give them a try, and have one course to give away. The languages available are English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. If you’re interested, just drop me an email at feedback[at]omniglot[dot]com and I’ll send you an access code that gives […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Language, Language learning 2 Comments

Best languages to study

According to an article I came across in the Daily Telegraph today, the best / most useful languages to study, for those in the UK, are: 1. German 2. French 3. Spanish 4. Mandarin 5. Polish 6. Arabic 7. Cantonese 8. Russian 9. Japanese 10. Portuguese The reasons why each language is useful vary quite […]

Also posted in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Polish, Portuguese, Russian 6 Comments

Cars, carts and chariots

Last week I was told that the English word car originally comes from the Irish word carr (donkey cart). Apparently when cars came to Ireland Irish speakers thought it was better to come up with a new word for them than to name them after the humble donkey cart, so the term gluaisteán (‘moving thing’) […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 2 Comments


Last weekend I saw a couple of parades – a small and rather damp one in Bangor on Saturday that was part of the Bangor Carnival – and a rather bigger and more elaborate one on Sunday in Manchester that was part of the Manchester Day celebrations. This got me wondering about the origins of […]

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