Monthly Archives: April 2006


The origins of the word Easter are a bit uncertain. According to The Venerable Bede (672-735 AD), a Christian scholar, Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre), who was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxons. The Teutonic goddess of fertility was known by such names as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, […]

Language 7 Comments

Counting in twenties

As I mentioned the other day, they count in twenties in Manx Gaelic. Today I discovered that this system can be used for counting up to 199. For example, 100 is quig feed (five twenties) or keead (hundred), 120 = shey feed (six twenties) or keead as feed (hundred and twenty), and 199 = nuy […]

Language 8 Comments

Building vocabulary

Each of us constructs our own unique version of the world in our minds, but we don’t necessarily notice everything, at least consciously. The things we see, hear, touch, taste, or smell evoke memories, associations and various trains of thought. When you learn a foreign language, you are effectively creating a new version of the […]

Language 4 Comments

Word of the day – chapéu-de-cobra

chapéu-de-cobra, noun = toadstool, lit. “snake’s hat” A good way to remember words is to associate them with pictures. The Portuguese word for toadstool conjures up the image of a snake in a hat. If you imagine that the hat is the colour and shape of a toadstool, it will help you to remember the […]

Language, Portuguese, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Writing v typing

Writing by hand and typing are two quite different skills. Apart from the mechanical differences, there are also differences in the way you compose and construct the text. When writing by hand, you have to think about what you’re going to write before putting pen to paper. If you make a lot of mistakes and/or […]

Writing 9 Comments

Octothorpes and interrobangs

octothorpe, noun = # The literal meaning of this word is “eight fields”: thorpe comes from the Old Norse for village, farm or hamlet, and octo means eight. In cartography it’s used as a symbol for villages: eight fields around a central square. Other names for this symbol include hash, numeral sign, number sign, pound […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Word of the day – spotçhal

spotçhal = joking Examples of usage Vel oo spotçhal? = are you joking? Cha nel mee spotçhal noadyr = I’m not joking at all Son spotçh ren mee eh = I did it for a joke Lhig eh shaghey myr spotçh eh = He passed it off as a joke Related words spotçh / spring, […]

Language, Manx, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Word of the day – 自動販売機

自動販売機 (jidōhanbaiki), noun = vending machine Breaking this word down into its compontent parts we get: 自動 (jidō) automatic (self move); 販売 (hanbai) selling; 機 (ki) machine. This word can also be shortened to 自販機 (jihanki), which demostrates a typical method of abbreviating words in Japanese: you get rid of the second character in each […]

Japanese, Language, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Common Era

It’s been suggested that I change all references on Omniglot to AD and BC to CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era). The usage of AD/BC is apparently offensive to some non-Christians. Usage of CE/BCE seems to be increasing, at least in some places. While the Common Era system makes no mention of Christianity, […]

Language 12 Comments

Word of the day – brachiate

brachiate, adjective = having widely divergent paired branches; verb = to swing by the arms from one hold to the next Origin: from Latin bracchiātus – with armlike branches. Here’s another interesting word from Richard Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale” – he mentions it while discussion the astounding acrobatic abilities of gibbons, and speculating whether our […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 8 Comments
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