Monthly Archives: June 2010

Jamaican and Scots

A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with a Jamaican poet about the Jamaican language. He told me how it is being standardised and used as a medium of instruction in schools, and is now considered a language in its own right. One advantage of using Jamaican in schools is that pupils who […]

Education, Language 16 Comments

Jacob’s join

Jacob’s join is the term used by my mum and her friends to describe a get-together that involves each person bringing food – usually something they’ve made themselves – to share with the others. I would probably call such a gathering a potluck dinner/supper. According to Wikipedia, the word potluck pr pot-luck first appeared in […]

English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 20 Comments

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you guess the language and where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 15 Comments


This piece of writing was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot. Can anybody identify the script and/or decipher it? It looks a bit like cursive Hebrew to me.

Language, Puzzles, Writing 8 Comments


The word blithering came up today in a comedy show I was listening to and this got me wondering about it’s origins. It’s normally accompanied by idiot, as in blithering idiot, and means: talking incoherently, foolishly; senselessly talkative jabbering stupid, foolish, contemptible Blithering comes from blither (to talk nonsense), which is a variant of blather, […]

Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 11 Comments

nu-i asa?

A correspondent would like to know the Romanian equivalent of the tag questions like n’est-ce pas? (French), non e vero? (Italian), ¿verdad? (Spanish), ne pravda? (Czech). I found nu-i asa? via Google translate, and this brings up over 3 million results in Google, so might just be correct. Do other languages use similar tags?

French, Italian, Language, Romanian, Spanish, Words and phrases 39 Comments

Name the language

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you guess the language and where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 17 Comments

Writing Systems Research

I heard today that a new journal on writing systems, Writing Systems Research, was launched recently and sounds very interesting. The first issue includes articles on the evolution of writing, and literacy, and is can be read online for free. Are there any other journals that focus specifically on writing systems or written language?

Language, Writing 3 Comments


galapagar, (noun, m) – sitio donde abundan los galápagos (a place abounding in tortoises). I heard of this word today and it particularly appealed to me for its very specific meaning. It seems to be rare and doesn’t appear in any of my Spanish dictionaries, though it does appear in the Diccionario de la Lengua […]

English, Language, Spanish, Words and phrases 21 Comments


These puzzles were sent in by a visitor to Omniglot from Taiwan. The first appears on a mosquito coil and looks a bit like Tibetan or one of the other Brahmi-derived scripts. These characters were spotted in Lugang (鹿港). Can you make any sense of the writing in either of these images?

Language, Puzzles, Writing 10 Comments
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