Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mystery language

Here’s another recording in a mystery language. I was just sent this clip and asked if I recognise the language. I don’t. Do you? It sounds like a tongue twister in a Romance language to me, though I don’t know which one.

Language, Puzzles 19 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 12 Comments

Musket inscription puzzle

Here is a mysterious inscription on a musket that was posted on the Omniglot fan club recently: See a larger version of this image. The person who sent this in the asked me to post the image here with this analysis from Christopher Ray Miller: I think this is more likely in the Kaithi script, […]

Language, Puzzles, Writing Comments Off on Musket inscription puzzle

Paid a gwgu!

I learnt the Welsh expression Paid a gwgu! [paɪd a ˈgʊgɨ] from friends in Aberystwyth yesterday. It means ‘Don’t frown/glower/scowl!’. I like the sound of gwgu, which doesn’t seem like a frowny word to me – it’s more like a baby’s babbling. Related words include gwg (frown) and gwgus (frowning). Words for frown in Irish, […]

Idioms, Irish, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments


Characters in the novels by Andrey Kurkov (Андрій Юрійович Курков) that I’ve read recently often enjoy a bowl of dish of pelmeni, which is obviously some kind of food, but is not translated. I wondered what pelmeni might be, so thought I’d find out. According to Wikipedia, pelmeni are “dumplings consisting of a filling wrapped […]

English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 13 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 7 Comments

Gordon Bennett!

Gordon Bennett! is used as an exclamation of surprise or disbelief. According to The Phrase Finder, it first appeared in print as an exclamation in a 1937 novel by James Curtis – You’re in the Racket Too, and is possibly a version of the exclamation Gor blimey!, a euphemistic version of God blind me!. It […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Vrbnik inscription

Here’s a photo on an inscription sent in by a visitor to Omniglot. It comes Vrbnik, a village on Krk, an island off Croatia. See a larger version of the image. The alphabet is Glagolitic. Does anyone know what the language is and what it says?

Language, Puzzles, Writing 2 Comments

Monolingual USA?

The other day I found an interesting article in the New York Times about monolingualism and multilingualism in the USA and elsewhere. There’s a widespread belief that most Americans are monolingual in English, and that elsewhere it’s common for people to know two or more languages. The article asks whether this belief is true. The […]

Bilingualism, Language 4 Comments

Sacre bleu! Mitt Romney speaks French

According to a correspondent who contacted me today, one of the US presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich, has attacked one of the other candidates, Mitt Romney, for speaking French. Not only does he speak French, but there’s also a video of him on YouTube speaking in French (made 10 years ago). What is the world coming […]

French, Language 11 Comments
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