Monthly Archives: September 2006

Ancient Greek names

Here’s a question for any Classicists out there – how do you pronounce the Ancient Greek names Lycos, Nycteus and Epirus? This question was sent to me by Persephone Vandegrift, who is writing a play based on the Bacchae by Euripides and has added these new characters, who are associated with Pentheus and the story […]

Language 10 Comments

Polly Glotto

I came across a very useful online translation site today – Polly Glotto. It not only translates text between ten different languages (Chinese, English, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish), but also uses text-to-speech technology to speak the translations. The translations it produces aren’t always perfect, but they are generally quite […]

Language 2 Comments

Smilin like a bylt haddie

I hope you’ll be sae cantie as a sou amang glaur (as happy as a pig in the mud) with today’s selection of Scots idioms, which I found on Wir Ain Lied, An Innin tae Modern Scots (An Introduction to Modern Scots). As you may have noticed, A hae an ee til (I have a […]

Language, Scots, Words and phrases 2 Comments

How many languages = polyglot?

There’s an old joke that someone who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, a speaker of three languages is trilingual, someone with two languages is bilingual, and someone who knows only one language is an American, or British. There’s certainly some truth in this. How many languages do you have to speak before you can claim […]

Language 15 Comments

Sign languages

According to Ethnologue, there are 114 sign languages around the world. The most widely used is American Sign Language (ASL), with an estimated 500,000 to 2 million users, according to this site. Probably the next most widely used is British Sign Language (BSL), with up 250,000 users, between 30,000 and 70,000 of whom use BSL […]

Language 26 Comments

Language exchange

Last week I found a useful online community website called Gumtree where you can post all kinds of messages. The site was originally just for London, but there are now local versions for many other cities in the UK, including Brighton, and other places around the world. One section that particularly caught my attention is […]

Language, Language learning 2 Comments

Name the language

Where might you see a sign like this and what does it forbid you from doing?

Language, Quiz questions 13 Comments

Word of the day – zmrzlina

zmrzlina [zmrzlɪna] = ice, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet This tongue twister of word came up in today’s Czech lesson. I had to listen to it many times before attempting to pronounce it. This is quite an extreme example of the tricky consonant clusters common in Czech. I also find the ř [rʒ] sound particularly difficult, […]

Czech, Language, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Comparing language courses

One reason why I chose to learn Czech with the Pimsleur course was because I hadn’t done a Pimsleur course before and I want to test as many different types of language course as I can find. To date I’ve tried quite a few Colloquial and Teach Yourself courses, one Rosetta Stone course (Russian), which […]

Language, Language learning 5 Comments


I’m now half way through my Pimsleur Czech course and am enjoying it. I like the way the lessons are arranged and the way you’re asked to construct new sentences using the words you already know. The focus on listening and speaking really suits me as these are the skills I prefer to focus on. […]

Czech, Language, Language learning 10 Comments
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