Monthly Archives: February 2012

Déménager

In French if you want to talk about movement in general you use bouger, but for moving house you use déménager. The other day a friend pointed out that the root of déménager is ménage (housework, housekeeping, household, married couple), as in ménage à trois, from the Old French manage, from manoir (manor, country house), […]

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English, French, Language, Words and phrases 5 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 9 Comments

Today and tomorrow

Yesterday a friend asked me about the origins of the words today and tomorrow, and whether the to- part of them was orginally the. You sometimes come across expressions like ‘on the morrow’, and words appear with hypens in older texts: to-day and to-morrow. According to the OED, today comes from the Old English tó […]

English, Etymology, French, German, Italian, Language, Latin, Romanian, Spanish, Words and phrases 15 Comments

Mandarin v English

I came across an interesting article about the relative importance of Mandarin and English in South East Asia today. It talks about children from Malaysia being sent to school in Singapore because their parents want them to be fluent in English – schools in Malaysia teach in Malay, while those in Singapore teach in English. […]

Chinese, English, Language 2 Comments

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 8 Comments

Haste and speed

A friend asked me to investigate the expression more haste, less speed as it doesn’t seem to make sense. I’ve always interpreted as meaning you should do something more hastily and less quickly, which seems illogical to me. The OED defines haste as: 1. Urgency or impetuosity of movement resulting in or tending to swiftness […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 12 Comments

By hook or by crook

I went to two talks by David Crystal at Bangor University yesterday – one was entitled “By Hook or by Crook” and the other was on Shakespeare’s English, focusing particularly on original pronunciation (OP) – a reconstruction of the way people spoke in Shakepeare’s day. Both talks were fascinating and full of information and anecdotes. […]

English, Language, Linguistics 3 Comments

Visiting with

I’ve noticed in novels and other things in American English that I’ve read recently that people talk about ‘visiting with’ friends or other people, in the sense of spending time with them. In British English you might visit a place with a friend, but you don’t usually visit with a friend in the American sense. […]

English, Language 23 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 14 Comments

Projects and practice

When you learn a language because it’s useful, interesting, fun and/or necessary (all of which are good reasons to do so), the language itself tends to be the main focus, and acquiring the ability to understand, speak, read and/or write it is perhaps the main goal. An alternative approach is to see a language as […]

Language, Language learning 2 Comments