Monthly Archives: January 2011

Language quiz

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

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Language, Quiz questions 10 Comments

Sponono yekile

A quick question for you from a visitor to Omniglot: Does anyone know the meaning of the Xhosa phrase “Sponono yekile”? It’s the title of a song, which you can hear on this page. I searched for it in an online Xhosa dictionary without success.

Language, Puzzles 6 Comments

Cave canem!

I received a email today asking when the Spanish word perro (dog) replaced can, a word for dog derived from the Latin canis, which appears in the name Canary Islands, (Islas Canarias in Spanish). The Spanish word perro first appeared in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española in 1737 [source]; was originally pejorative [source] […]

Catalan, English, Etymology, French, Galician, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 9 Comments

Gargalesthesia, gongoozler and misodoctakleidism

Here are a few unusual and interesting words that I came across today on this page that I thought I’d share with you. gargalesthesia [ˈgɑːɡəlɪsθiːzɪə] – the sensation caused by tickling, from the Greek gargalos (itching) + esthesia. A medical term that also exists in French (gargalésie). The word gargalos also means bottleneck in Portuguese. […]

Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Circassian calligraphy

Recently I was sent a version of the Circassian alphabet which I hadn’t seen before. Today I discovered that it came from a site about Circassian calligraphy, which includes information about it (in Russian) and plenty of examples. Here’s the alphabet: And here’s a sample text: Here you seen this before?

Language, Writing 8 Comments

Name the language

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

Language, Quiz questions 14 Comments

Study Abroad is Essential For Language Majors

Today we have a guest post by Lindsey Wright. Nearly everyone will take a language course in college. For some students, the course simply fills a general education requirement by giving them basic knowledge of a language, while others plan to study a language extensively in college. However, for people to truly grasp a language, […]

Language, Language learning 2 Comments

Hands and pockets

In English when you know something or somewhere well, you can say that you “know it like the back of your hand” or that you “know it inside out / back to front / upside down”. If you’re talking about people, you might say “I know him/her/them like I know myself.” Yesterday I learnt that […]

English, French, German, Language, Spanish, Turkish, Words and phrases 20 Comments

Taverns, columns and caps

What do the words in the title of this post have in common? Well, they all originally come from Etruscan, according to Nicholas Ostler in Ad Infinitum – A Biography of Latin and the World it Created, one of the books I’m reading at the moment. The English word tavern dates from the late 13th […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Bellies, bags and bellows

Yesterday a friend asked me whether bellyache was considered rude or vulgar, and whether tummy ache or stomach ache were preferable in formal conversation. I thought that the word belly might be seen as vulgar and/or informal by some; that stomach ache might be better in formal situations, and that tummy ache tends to be […]

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