Monthly Archives: March 2012

Accents past and future

I came across an interesting article on the BBC News website today about the predominant use of British accents for characters in fantasy worlds, such as the Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Game of Thrones is apparently aimed at American audiences, adapted from books by George RR Martin, an American author, but […]

English, Language 8 Comments

Mysterious language and music

Here’s a recording sent in by Dave Murrary of Haji Maji, a blog about old 78 records from Asia. Part of the recording with the spoken words: The whole recording: This comes from a record which has a picture of two Buddhist monks and the phrase “sixth Buddhist convention” on the label. According to a […]

Language, Puzzles 10 Comments

Mysterious script

Can anyone recognise the script below? It was sent in by a visitor and comes from an old letter. It looks like it’s written from right to left and might be a cursive form Hebrew. See the whole letter in PDF format.

Puzzles, Writing 13 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 15 Comments

Out in the sticks

One of the expressions we discussed this week at the French conversation group was out in the sticks, which is en pleine cambrousse (‘in full countryside’) or au milieu de la cambrousse (‘in the middle of the countryside’). La cambrousse comes from the Provençal cambrousso (hovel, storeroom), from cambra (bedroom). The sense of ‘province / […]

English, Etymology, French, Language 16 Comments


The other day I discovered how to add subtitles and speech bubbles to my videos on YouTube. I’ve added them to my latest video in Spanish: So you can now have the speech bubbles with the dialogue in Spanish, the subtitles in English, or both, or neither. It was quite a fiddly and laborious process […]

Language, Language learning, Technology 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 5 Comments

Haunted by the blank page

Here are a few interesting French expressions I discovered this week: – le tapis roulant à bagages = luggage/baggage carousel, or literally a “rolling carpet for baggage” – shame it isn’t a tapis volant (flying carpet)! What do you call the conveyer belt thing that where you (hope to) retrieve your bags after a flight? […]

English, French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Dialect, vernacular, patois?

The other I found quite an interesting article about Shanghainese which suggest that’s it has become a bit more popular recently, and is being used for some announcements in public transport and on planes, and that children are allowed to speak it at one school, at least during breaks. The article says that about 10 […]

Chinese, Language, Language revival 1 Comment

New video

I’m currently making a new video in Xtranormal – this time in Spanish. Here’s the script, with English translation: ¡Hola! Hi Buena día. ¿En qué puedo ayudarle? Hello, How can I help you? Busco trabajo. I’m looking for work. ¿Qué tipo de trabajo? What kind of work? Como payaso y cirujano de cerebro. As a […]

Language, Language learning, Spanish 10 Comments
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