Monthly Archives: May 2007

Word doubling

When you want to emphasis something, one way to do this in English, and in a number of other languages, is to repeat the word. Sometimes the repeated word is altered, often to make a better rhyme. Sometimes the second word is one with a similar meaning to the first one and which rhymes with […]

Language 23 Comments

Stop the world, I want to get off!

This week I started putting together a page of translations of the phrase “Stop the world, I want to get off”. I was looking through my page of ‘useful’ phrases and noticed that I have a Spanish version of this phrase. I wondered if I could find translations into other language, and so far have […]

Language, Music, Translation, Words and phrases 23 Comments

Le PM parle le français

Yesterday I came across a video on YouTube of Tony Blair congratulating Nicolas Sarkozy, in French, for his victory in the recent French presidential election. I didn’t know that old Tony could speak any other language other than English, but he seems to speak French pretty fluently, with quite an English accent. He starts the […]

French, Language 14 Comments

Speaking foreign

In fiction most characters seem able to communicate with each other without any problems, even if they speak different languages, though some authors use language difficulties or attempts to speak other languages for comic effect. For example, in Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad, which I’m currently re-reading for the umpteenth time, one of the witches comes […]

Language 23 Comments

Where in the world?

Here’s a photo of a mystery city. Do you know where it is, and which languages are spoken there?

Language, Quiz questions 7 Comments

Language quiz – Arabic

Here are some recordings of people for a number of different countries speaking Arabic. Can you work out where they’re from and what types of Arabic they’re speaking? Recording 1 Recording 2 Recording 3 Recording 4 Recording 5

Arabic, Language, Quiz questions 17 Comments

Illiteracy in China

According to an article in the China Daily, the number of people in China who are unable to read or write increased by over 30 million between 2000 and 2005, inspite of government campaigns to eradicate illiteracy. Part of this increase is possibly a result of previous under-reporting. In rural areas the ability to read […]

Chinese, Language 8 Comments

Read my lips

If you’ve seen someone talking before, it’s apparently easier to understand them, even when you can’t hear them clearly. This is one of the findings of a research project at University of California Riverside, according to an article on EureakAlert!. Researchers showed a group of students a video of someone talking with the sound turned […]

Language 6 Comments

Language and gestures

According to an article on ScienceDaily, moving your hands and making gestures while speaking can help you to access your memory and language. A study at the University of Alberta found that bilingual children who were observed telling the same story in two different languages tended to use gestures more in their stronger language. The […]

Language 9 Comments


Since I started studying the Celtic languages, I’ve sometimes found myself moving the things I want to emphasise to the beginning of sentences when speaking English. For example, “Welsh and Irish are the languages I’m concentrating on at the moment.” This kind of sentence structure is common to all the Celtic languages, but can sound […]

Language 18 Comments
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