Monthly Archives: August 2010


I learnt a new word from the radio this morning – fascinator. They were talking about hats and somebody mentions the fascinator, something I hadn’t heard of before. A fascinator or facinator hat is: “a small headpiece usually mounted on a base, comb or headband worn jauntily to the front or side incorporating a combination […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Winter climber

The word zimolez, which is honeysuckle in Czech, came up the other day during a conversation with a Czech friend. It comes from zima (winter) and lézt (to climb, crawl, creep), so could be translated as “winter climber”. Other interesting words that came up include plšík (doormouse), smršť (tornado) brblat (to grizzle, beef, grouch, mutter) […]

Czech, English, Etymology, French, German, Inuktitut, Irish, Language, Latin, Spanish, Words and phrases 17 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 9 Comments


Here’s another puzzle for you. It was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot, who writes: Hoping you can help solve this mystery phrase. My great grandmother used to say this phrase, “I de vreet”, which sounded like “eye deh vreat”. If you could give any insight into what this means. We think it might […]

Language, Puzzles 22 Comments


Here’s a request from a visitor to Omniglot that maybe you can help with: I purchased a copper pitcher from an antiques dealer in Baghdad recently and found two characters marked under the lip of the pitcher. The dealer wasn’t aware of the marks and assures me that the piece is from Iraq/Iraqi made, yet, […]

Language, Puzzles, Writing 4 Comments

Wire twists

The electricians have been rewiring my new house this week and finished today, so I thought it would be interesting to looking the etymology of the word wire. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, wire comes from the Old English word wir (metal drawn out into a thread), which is related to the Old Norse […]

English, Etymology, Idioms, Irish, Language, Latin, Old Norse, Welsh, Words and phrases 11 Comments

Linguistics and languages

When I mention to people that I’m a linguist or have studied linguistics, they often ask something like “Oh, which language(s)?” The popular idea of a linguist seems to be someone who studies / speaks quite a few languages, and linguistics is thought of as studying languages, rather than the study of language in general. […]

Irish, Language, Linguistics, Sign language, Welsh 13 Comments

Language challenge

Here are two recordings of a verse from an Irish song that I learnt this week in the sean-nós class in Gleann Cholm Cille. The first recording is spoken by the sean-nós tutor, Gearódín Breathnach, and the second recording is sung by Gearódín and the class. Recording 1: Recording 2: Your challenge is to identify […]

Irish, Language, Quiz questions 7 Comments
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