Monthly Archives: April 2008

Omniglot homepage

For a while I’ve been considering rearranging Omniglot’s homepage and have come up with the following alternative. I’m trying to make it to easier for visitors to understand what the site’s about and to be able to find the contents they’re looking for. What do you think? Is the new version better than the old […]

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Language quiz

Here’s a recording of part of a song in a mystery language. Do you know or can you guess the language?

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Pear stories

An interesting site I came across today called the Chinese Pear Stories features material in seven Chinese languages – Mandarin (普通话), Cantonese (广东话), Hakka (客家话), Shanghai Wu (吳), Xiamen Min Nan (閩南话), Xiang 湘 and Gan 贛. The material consists of recordings and transcriptions of stories told by speakers of each of these languages. This […]

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Soaking up languages like a sponge

A report I found today talks about a school in Seattle called sponge which aims to teach babies and children four languages – Spanish, Mandarin, French and Japanese – through play, songs, stories, etc. They have teachers who are native speakers of the languages they teach and take children from as young 5 months and […]

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Say something!

When other people discover that you speak a foreign language, they sometimes ask you to say something in that language. You might want to say something complicated thinking it will impress them, but if they don’t speak the language themselves, anything you say will probably do that. But what to say? Poems, songs, proverbs, sayings […]

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Míkmaq trees

The words for trees in Míkmaq, an Algonquian language spoken in parts of Canada and the USA, are apparently based on the sounds the trees make in the wind. More specifically, according to this book, the names come from “the sound that the wind makes when it blows through the leaves during autumn about an […]

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Name the language

Here’s a recording of part of a news report in a mystery language. Any ideas which language it is and where it’s spoken?

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Word of the day – poklop

Poklop is a Czech word I came across today which means trapdoor or hatch. I’m not sure of its etymology, but I just like the sound of this word. An alternative word for the same thing is padací dveře (lit. “falling door”). Related words include padací most drawbridge, (lit. “falling bridge”) and padací mříž portculis, […]

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Word of the day – grawlix

While looking through Language Log today, I came across the unusual words, grawlix, which is apparently a spiral used by cartoonists to indicate a character is swearing or cursing, along with other typographic symbols – for example @$£*&%!! (Here the ampersand (@) stands in for the grawlix). According to Wiktionary, grawlix means “A string of […]

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Signed off

The other day I heard that one of my colleagues had been “signed off”. As this was the first time I’d heard this expression in this context I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Later I discovered that she had been signed off by her doctor due to carpal tunnel syndrome and would be […]

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