Monthly Archives: July 2006

Word of the day – mimesis

mimesis, noun = the imitative representation of nature or human behaviour; any disease that shows symptoms of another disease; a condition in a hysterical patient that mimics an organic disease; representation of another person’s alleged words in a speech. Origin: from the Greek μιμεισθαι (mimeisthai) – to imitate. Related words include mime, mimic, mimicry and […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment


Snowclones are adaptable templates for clichés popular with journalists and writers. For example, X is the new Y, A doesn’t know the meaning of B, and C is D’s middle name. Just replace the letters with words and you have a cliché you can use in quite a wide range of circumstances. Wikipedia defines a […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Textbook language

Yesterday I was discussing language learning with a friend and he mentioned that when he was in Japan studying Japanese, it was fairly easy to understand the other students, but very difficult to understand the Japanese themselves. If you learn a language from a textbook and/or in a class, it’s often quite a surprise to […]

Language, Language learning 5 Comments

What language is this?

Here’s a challenge for you – can you identify the following language and translate it into English? Nangeguaqavoq sitkasigpai A few clues – it appears in a book by an author with an alliterative name. The title of the book includes a reference to a certain biblical garden. The people who speak this language live […]

Language, Quiz questions 12 Comments

Dictionaries – what are they for?

Many people see dictionaries as major sources of authority on language-related matters. If a word is not in the dictionary, then it can’t possibly exist, even if you hear it every day in the conversations of others. Dictionaries are there to tell us what words ‘really mean’, and how they ‘should’ be used and pronounced. […]

Language 3 Comments

Language X is better for activity Y, or is it?

The seems to be a common belief that some languages are better suited to certain types of activities than others. For example, Emperor Charles V apparently said “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog.” Some people believe that certain languages are not suitable for such things […]

Language 16 Comments

Word of the day – 闋 (què)

闋 (què) – to close or shut the door after finishing something; to be at rest; to end; the expiry of a period of mourning; a numerical adjunct for songs; empty, blank In addition to all the above meanings, this character is also used as a measure word (量詞 [量词] liàngcí) for words (詞 [词] […]

Chinese, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Learning Russian and Manx

I’ve been learning Russian with Rosetta Stone for just over six months now and don’t feel like I’m making much progress. The Rosetta Stone Russian course is a fairly effective way of learning vocabulary and some sentence patterns, but not particularly useful if you want to learn how to converse in Russian. So I’m considering […]

Language, Language learning, Manx, Russian 6 Comments

Traditional v Simplified Characters (繁體或简体)

This morning not long after I switched on my computer two people were wanting to chat to me on MSN messenger, one from China and one from Taiwan. I had to keep on changing from writing in simplified to traditional characters but occasionally forgot, much to their confusion. At the same time I was also […]

Chinese, Language, Writing 11 Comments

tlhIngan Hol Dajatlh’a’

The title of today’s post means “Do you speak Klingon?”. Apparently the New Theatre in Cardiff is looking for anybody who speaks Klingon to perform in a play they’re planning to stage soon. I heard this on Radio Cymru (the Welsh language radio station) this morning. Dw i’n di clywed ar Radio Cymru y bore […]

Language 5 Comments
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