Monthly Archives: August 2007

Word of the day – moustache

Today’s word, moustache, (mustache in American English) comes via the French moustache, the Italian mostaccio or the Spanish mostacho, from the Medieval Greek moustakion, a diminutive of mystax, “upper lip, moustache”, which is related to mastax, “jaws, mouth”, lit. “that with which one chews”. This week there have been quite a lot of blokes with […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Maori language in Hawaii

According to a news item I found today, it’s possible to study the Maori language at the University of Hawaii. The Maori courses, which are taught at the Manoa campus, are popular with Hawaiian students, who are interesting in Maori because it has many similarities with the Hawaiian language and they are curious to find […]

Hawaiian, Language, Maori 3 Comments

Found fiction

There’s a genre of poetry known as ‘found poetry’ which involves take words, phrases and sometimes longer chunks of text from various sources and arranging them in a poetical way. Here’s a blog called simply ‘found poetry‘ with the subtitle ‘pulling poetry from pages of prosaic piffle’ which features many examples. There’s a short story […]

English, Language, Literature, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Word of the day – 月食 (yuèshí)

Today one of my Chinese contacts asked me the meaning of 月食 (yuèshí). It’s not a word I’ve come across before and I wasn’t able to guess its meaning from the meanings of the individual characters, so I had to look it up. It means ‘lunar eclipse’ and the individual characters mean ‘moon’ and ‘to […]

Chinese, Language, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Winged words and chocolate interrobangs

I came across a couple of interesting-looking linguablogs today: Epea pteroenta, which discusses language, linguistics, literature, and film; and The Chocolate Interrobang, where the numerous contributors “savor discussions about language & grammar & syntax, and sometimes reminisce about diagramming sentences…”. The phrase Epea Pteroenta (Επεα Πτεροεντα) comes from Homer’s Odyssey and means “winged words”. When […]

English, Language 4 Comments

Language quiz

Here is a recording of me saying the names of five places in England. Each is spelt in a way that doesn’t match the pronunciation. Can you work out which places they are?

English, Language, Quiz questions 9 Comments

Where in the world?

Here is a photo of a mystery city. Can you guess or do you know where it is, and which languages are spoken there? Here’s a clue – this is the capital of a country in Europe.

Language, Quiz questions, Travel 10 Comments


To crocodile, or krokodili, means to speak one’s native language at a gathering of Esperantists, a practice generally frowned on by Esperantists, according to an article I found today. The article gives an interesting account of the history of Esperanto and the life of it’s inventor, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof. For a while Zamenhof apparently considered […]

English, Language 14 Comments

Word of the day – oology

Today’s word, oology, refers to the study of eggs, especially bird’s eggs. It also covers the collecting of bird’s eggs and the study of their breeding habits, and their nests, a practice sometimes known as caliology. Oology is sometimes written oölogy, comes from the Greek ōion, egg, plus ology, a back formation from words like […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Spandrels and squinches

While reading an interesting post on Babel’s Dawn today, I came across the word spandrel. I have heard it before but wasn’t entirely sure what it meant. According to Wikipedia, a spandrel is “the space between two arches or between an arch and a rectangular enclosure”. The word spandrel is also used in the theory […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments
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