Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ordinosore

Ordinosore is an interesting French word I came across today in an article in The Guardian. It combines ordinateur (computer) and dinosaur and means an out-of-date computer – the laptop I’m writing this on is only three years old, but is already a bit of an ordinosore. The article mentions le Festival XYZ, an annual […]

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English, French, Language, Words and phrases 6 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 14 Comments

Swot!

In British English the word swot (/swɒt/) means to study or work hard – you might swot for your exams if you’re a swot (someone who works/studies hard). You might also swot up on something. Calling someone a swot, or a little swot, can be a kind of insult, perhaps with undertones of envy or […]

English, Etymology, French, Language 11 Comments

Handwriting and typing Cyrillic

I finally finished learning the handwritten cursive version of the Cyrillic alphabet for Russian today – I’ve been learning it a few letters at a time, so it has taken a while. Now I can write down the Russian words and phrases I’m learning more easily – writing the printed versions of the letters seems […]

Language, Language learning, Russian 5 Comments

Книга

Книга /’kniga/ is a Russian word for book, and also appears in other Slavic languages: кніга in Belarusian, книга in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Ukrainian, knjiga in Croatian and Slovenian, kniha in Czech, knéga in Kashubian, kъńiga (book, character, writing) in Old Church Slavonic, książka in Polish, and књига in Serbian. It apparently comes from the […]

Czech, English, Etymology, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 7 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 14 Comments

La douce lueur du crépuscule

Yesterday I discovered that there are many ways to express the concept of soft in French, depending on the context. Doux (douce) (/du/, /duːs/), from the Latin dulcis (soft, smooth, pleasant), is used for: – soft (not rough) skin, hands, hair, fur, silk, towels, fabric or texture – soft (gentle) lights, colours, curves, lines, breezes […]

English, French, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Possession

In the Celtic languages when you want to say that you have/own/possess something, you say that the thing is at/by/with you, often with the prepositions merging with the pronouns. For example, this is how to say ‘I have a book’ in those languages: – Irish: Tá leabhar agam [lit. “is book at-me] – Scottish Gaelic: […]

Breton, Cornish, Irish, Language, Manx, Russian, Scottish Gaelic 25 Comments

Message in a bottle

This puzzle was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot who found this piece of paper in a bottle off the coast of Oregon in 1963. It has been suggested that the writing system might be Yi. Can you make any sense of it? NB: I don’t know which way up it should be.

Language, Puzzles, Writing 13 Comments

Language quiz

Here are recordings in four closely-related languages: Language 1 Language 2 Language 3 Language 4 Can you identify the languages and tell which is which?

Language, Quiz questions 12 Comments