Archive for the Category: Dutch

Have you got your snap?

On an episode of Uncle Mort’s North Country, a comedy drama on Radio 4 Extra that I listened to today, I heard the word snap used for a packed lunch. I’e heard it before, but wasn’t sure where it came from. The drama features two characters from Yorkshire: Uncle Mort and his nephew, Carter Brandon, […]

Also posted in English, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Joskins, bumpkins and yokels

Last week a friend asked me about the origins of the word joskin [ˈdʒɒskɪn], which I hadn’t come across before. According to the Urban Dictionary it is defined as follows: North-Walian term used in both English and Welsh to describe anyone from a rural or farming background. It is used both affectionately and in a […]

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Les chuchoteuses

On Rue Staint-Paul in Vieux Montréal there’s a statue of three women having a gossip. It’s known as ‘Les chuchoteuses‘ or ‘The whisperers’. It’s also known as the “fat ladies talking statue”. It’s by Rose-Aimée Bélanger, a sculptor from Ontario, and was installed as part of a 2006 initiative to highlight some of Old Montreal’s […]

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Reflections on the Polyglot Gathering

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin late on Monday night. I travelled by train the whole way, which is a bit more expensive than the plane, and takes a few hours longer, but I prefer to travel this way, and you see more. The journey went smoothly, apart from the train from […]

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Polyglot Gathering 2016

I’m currently at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. I arrived here on Wednesday evening and have been speaking and hearing lots of different languages. So far I’ve had conversations in English, French, Welsh, German, Irish and Mandarin, and spoken bits and pieces of Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Portuguese, Toki Pona and Esperanto. I’ve also heard […]

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Elephant flies

An interesting Dutch idiom I came across today is van een vlieg een olifant maken or “to make an elephant out of a fly”, which is the Dutch equivalent of the English idiom to make a mountain out of a molehill. This comes from a post on the blog Stuff Dutch People Like. Other idioms […]

Also posted in English, Idioms, Language 1 Comment

Untranslatable?

Recently I was sent a link to an infographic containing some apparently untranslatable words for love, and this got me wondering if there really is such a thing as an ‘untranslatable’ word or concept. The words featured in lists of ‘untranslatable’ words are often given poetic-sounding meanings, and other more ordinary and common meanings they […]

Also posted in English, German, Language, Translation, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Gleann Cholm Cille

This week and next week I am in Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolmcille) in Donegal in the north west of Ireland. I’m doing courses at Oideas Gael, an Irish language and cultural centre: a harp playing course this week, and an Irish language and culture course next week. This is my 11th visit to Gleann Cholm […]

Also posted in Czech, English, French, German, Irish, Language, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Travel 1 Comment

As pretty as a truck

An interesting French expression I learnt last week is beau comme un camion, which literally means “pretty as a truck/lorry”, and actually means pretty, cute or beautiful. Apparently this idiom appeared around the middle of the 20th century and was at first ironic, as few people find trucks pretty. However it came to mean graceful […]

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Little donkey bridges

I learnt an interesting word in Dutch today – ezelsbruggetje (“little donkey bridge”), which means a mnemonic, which associates words and other things you want to remember with images. A number of possible origins for this word are given on ezelsbrug.nl, my favourite of which is that when donkeys were commonly used in the countryside […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments
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