Monthly Archives: October 2006

Colour names

According to a study by researchers at Ohio State University, colours tend to be divided into eight main categories: red, green, yellow/orange, blue, purple, brown, pink and grue (green/blue) across many languages. The categories are remarkably consistent, though the boundaries between the different colours vary from language to language, and some languages have fewer words […]

Language 17 Comments

Disjointed conversations

When chatting on instant message programs like MSN Messenger or using the online chat function on Skype, conversations often become quite disjointed. You might respond to what the other person just said, then they respond to something you said earlier. Fortunately you can look back at what’s been said and work out what they’re on […]

Language Comments Off on Disjointed conversations

Japanese for kids

The son of one of my friends has decided that he wants to learn Japanese and his parents have asked me if I can recommend any suitable courses for him. I thought of the Talk Now! series, but they only teach you a limited number of words and phrases, and the lad, who’s 10 years […]

Japanese, Language, Language learning 17 Comments

Transliterations of Omniglot

One of my regular correspondents has suggested that I add a page to my main site showing how to write Omniglot in various different writing systems. He’s also sent me a list of transliterations to get me started – you can see the beginnings of the page here. Could you provide any new transliterations of […]

Language, Words and phrases 32 Comments

Learning languages for fun

There are many different reasons to learn languages, some practical, some intellectual, and some sentimental. Have you learnt, are you learning, or would you like to learn any languages purely for fun? If so, which languages and why? I’m learning, or plan to learn, all the Celtic languages mainly for fun. I fell for Irish […]

Language, Language learning 27 Comments

Name the dialect

Can you work out what dialect of English this is, and what it means? Can you also name the transcription system used here? Clue: the transcription system was invented during the 1880s.

Language, Quiz questions 13 Comments


This morning I had a long chat on Skype with a Japanese lass from somewhere near Tokyo. We talked in a mixture of Japanese and English, and I was pleased to discover that I can still speak Japanese, inspite of many years of neglect. There are many words I’ve forgotten, and I tend to get […]

Japanese, Language, Language learning 5 Comments

Pimsleur – a review

I have now listened to all 10 lessons of my Pimsleur Czech course, most of them several times. I’ve a long way to go before I can speak Czech, but I do know quite a few useful words and phrases now, and I am beginning to acquire a feeling for the structure of the language. […]

Chinese, Czech, Language, Language learning 9 Comments


After the fun we had yesterday with apostrophes, I thought it was time to become a bit semicolonical and to discuss the often over-looked semicolon, which is perhaps the punctuation mark most likely to fall out of use in the not too distant future. In fact many people rarely if ever use it already, except […]

Language, Words and phrases, Writing 11 Comments


The thorny subject of apostrophes and their usage came up in the comments on a recent post. There seems to be considerable confusion about when to use the common or garden aspostrophe, which is might be thought of as a comma that’s got above itself. In English the apostrophe is used to indicate possession, as […]

Language, Writing 17 Comments
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