Monthly Archives: August 2006


Motivation is very important when learning a language, or indeed anything else. Without motivation it’s difficult to continue studying for very long. An enthusiastic teacher or tutor can really help, as can learning materials at the right level, i.e. one that stretches you, but not much. Setting yourself targets and goals, and rewarding yourself when […]

Language, Language learning 9 Comments

Name the language

This week we have a recording of a mystery language. Can you identify it? Here it is. A few clues: this language is part of a large, widely scattered language family and is spoken mainly on a group of quite remote islands. This language has a regular spelling system devised by a missionary during the […]

Language, Quiz questions 28 Comments

Definite countries

Only a few country names are accompanied by the definite article in English. These include the UK, the USA, the Netherlands, the Gambia, the Sudan, the Ukraine and the Lebannon. In some cases the definite article is only used occasionally – Sudan and Lebannon, for example, usually manage perfectly well without it. Why some countries […]

English, Irish, Language, Welsh 17 Comments

Accelerating fuzziness

Words are notoriously slippery customers. They might start life with one or two well-defined meanings, but they often take on additional meanings, and in some cases come to mean the opposite of what they meant originally. This process is referred to as “accelerating fuzziness” by Geoffry Finch in Word of Mouth – A New Introduction […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 16 Comments

More on names

When you go to a language class, quite often the teacher will give you a name in the language you’re learning, which might be the equivalent of your name in that language, or a name with a similar sound. The French and German versions of my name are spelt the same but pronounced differently, while […]

Identity 20 Comments

The Seven Simons

In my class at school I was one of seven Simons, hence the title of this post. The name Simon seems to have been particularly popular in the UK in the sixties and seventies – not sure why – any suggestions? I was born in 1970 and often meet other Simons, quite a few of […]

Identity 16 Comments

Baby sign

The idea of using simple sign language to communicate with your baby before he or she can talk has been around for a while, and there are now various books, classes and websites that teach you how to sign with your baby. Baby sign, as seen in the movie Meet the Fockers, enables babies and […]

Language 8 Comments

Language learning in the news

According to report in the Times, increasing numbers of primary schools in the UK are teaching, or plan to teach, their pupils foreign languages, usually French. The idea is to use new, inovative teaching methods to get children excited about languages at an early age, with the hope that they will continue studying them at […]

Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Name that language

This week we have a quiz question from TJ. Can you identify this language and provide a translation? Abán hav lan lahhamá d’sunqan yawman Clues: this language acted as a lingua franca in a large region for about 1000 years, and is still spoken by a few small communities in that region. It was also […]

Language, Quiz questions 15 Comments

Word of the day – eisteddfod

eisteddfod /aɪˈstɛðvəd/ (pl. eisteddfodau), noun – cwrdd cystadleuol, eisteddiad. eisteddfod Related words eistedd, verb – gorffwys ar sedd neu gadair, seddu. to sit, to seat eisteddfa / eisteddle, noun – lle i eistedd, sedd. seat eisteddfodol, adjective – yn ymweud ag eisteddfod. eisteddfodic, to do with eisteddfodau eisteddfodwr, noun – un sy’n mynychu eisteddfodau. an […]

Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 5 Comments
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