Monthly Archives: May 2011


A visitor to Omniglot sent in this image of a manuscript and would like to know if anyone can decipher it. See a larger version The writing system is Khmer, and the person who sent it in was told that the language might be Pali.

Language, Puzzles, Writing 4 Comments


I’m often asked to translate words and phrases into various languages. Without any context this is particular challenging as a word in English might have more than one possible translations in another language. The other day, for example, I was asked to translate “Scottish Pride” into Scots and Scottish Gaelic. The Scots version is easy, […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 7 Comments

Pandora’s banjo

Last night a friend asked me about the origins of the word banjo. I wasn’t sure, so I did some investigating and discovered that banjo comes from the word bandore as pronounced by African slaves – ban’jōre, ban’jō. A bandore (/bænˈdɔə(r)/ /ˈbændɔə(r)/) is “a musical instrument resembling a guitar or lute, with three, four, or […]

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

Learning a Language with Flashcards

Today we have a guest post by Andrew Cohen. Having been a reader of the Omniglot blog for quite some time now, I have seen a lot of discussion about the usefulness of flashcards for help learning a language – particularly as a tool for practicing vocabulary and verb conjugation. Spaced-repetition systems (SRSs) like Anki […]

Language, Language learning, Technology Comments Off on Learning a Language with Flashcards

Lightbulb moments

Yesterday while we were singing La Bamba at the ukulele club the words started to make sense to me. I’d picked up some of them through repeated listening, but had never bothered to learn them before this week. Now I not only know the words, but also what they mean. Often with songs in languages […]

Irish, Language, Spanish, Welsh 3 Comments

Spots and sleeves

Today we have a guest post by Andrew of How to learn Spanish Hi, my name’s Andrew, I’ve been teaching myself Spanish on my own for about four years now, I run a blog on the subject of how to learn Spanish on your own where I share my own experiences and tips, and today […]

French, Language, Spanish 2 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 16 Comments


This sentence in Judeo-Arabic was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot who would like to know what it means. האדא כלאמהום. אלדי יגאוובון עלא האדה מסלכהום. ומא ענדנא גוואב נגרח להאדא גוואבהום Can you help? I put it into Google translate and got this transliteration: Hada Achlamhum. Baldi Igaauubon Ala Shahada Msllachhum. Ma Endana […]

Arabic, Language, Translation 7 Comments

Vamps, riffs and ostinanti

At the community choir last night our conductor referred to part of a song we were practising as a vamp. I have heard this term before in the context of songs, but wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, so decided to find out. According to the OED, vamp (/væmp/) has a number of meanings, including: […]

English, Language 5 Comments
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