Monthly Archives: December 2009

Mysterious inscription

This mysterious inscription was sent in by an editor at the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona. One of their reporters is working on a story about a book that was donated to a local library there. It’s a portfolio of prints apparently related to the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad that was compiled for the […]

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Puzzles, Writing 9 Comments

Noel, genes and genius

When singing the Christmas carol The First Noel the other day I started wondering where the word noel comes from. I knew noël was French for Christmas, but wasn’t sure where that came from. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, noel comes from the Latin natalis (birth) via the Old French noel (the Christmas season), […]

English, Etymology, French, German, Greek, Language, Latin, Welsh, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Do you know or can you guess which language it’s in and where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 25 Comments

Christmas

Merry Christmas Nadolig Llawen Joyeux Noël Nollaig shona Veselé vánoce Nollick Ghennal 聖誕快樂!

General 9 Comments

The land of rabbits

When adding more animals to the Celtic Connections section on Omniglot the other day, I started wondering about the origins of the Celtic words for rabbit – connín (Irish), coinean (Scottish Gaelic), conning (Manx), cwningen (Welsh), conyn (Cornwell), c’honikl (Breton). They appear to be related to each other, and also to the English word coney, […]

English, Etymology, Greek, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 27 Comments

Name the language

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Do you know or can you guess which language it’s in and where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 22 Comments

Daily food

At a Christmas party this week I was chatting to some Vietnamese people about food and one of them asked whether the meal we were having (chicken, potatoes, veg, etc) was what we have as our “daily food”. I couldn’t work out what she was talking about as the phrase “daily food” was pronounced so […]

Language 11 Comments

Puzzle

Can anybody decipher the writing on this medal? It looks like the Chinese Small Seal script, but I can only work out a few of the characters at the top: (reading from right to left) “開業二拾”.

Language, Puzzles, Writing 2 Comments

Basa Jawa

According to this report, people in Blora Regency in Central Java will be obliged to speak Javanese on Thursdays (Kemis) from January 2010. This applies to civil servants, officials in state-owned enterprises, teachers and students, and the students should use the kromo inggil (formal) forms with their teachers. The aim is to preserve the Javanese […]

Javanese, Language 17 Comments

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Do you know or can you guess which language it’s in and where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 16 Comments