Monthly Archives: May 2012

Without one red halfpenny

When putting together this week’s French words and expressions from the French Conversation Group today, I discovered some interesting French and Welsh equivalents of ‘(to be) broke’. In French the equivalent of broke (penniless) is fauché or if you’re really broke fauché comme les blés (broke like wheat). To be broke is être fauché and […]

English, French, Irish, Language, Welsh 6 Comments

Bilingual aphasia

I recently read The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, an interesting novel by Ruiyan Xu about a Chinese man who loses his ability to speak Chinese after suffering brain damage in an accident. The main character, Li Jing, grew up in America and spoke nothing but English until the age of 10, when his […]

Chinese, English, Language Comments Off on Bilingual aphasia


The other day I saw a play based on Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange, which was linguistically interesting. When I read the book many years ago I was able to guess the meanings of most of the Nadsat words from the context – Nadsat is the form of speech used by some characters in […]

English, Language, Russian Comments Off on Nadsat

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

Printer’s devils

I discovered a interesting term today for misspellings, missed words and other mistakes in a text – printer’s devils. This term originally referred to apprentices working in print shops who did things like mixing ink and fetching type. The origins of the term are uncertain, but printers believed that their shops were haunted by a […]

English, Language 6 Comments

A Taste of Old English

I discovered a video today which provides a taste of Old English: It was filmed at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk in the east of England. The village has reconstructed Anglo-Saxon houses, and stages living history re-enactments of Anglo-Saxon life, including, it seems, some Old English. I found that […]

English, Language 13 Comments

Fá dtaobh de

The Irish expression fá dtaobh de means about, as in tá mé ag cainnt fá dtaobh de (I am talking about it). It is most commonly used in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland, where it’s pronounced something like /fa’duːdə/. In other parts of Ireland it would be pronounced something like /fa.d̪ˠiːv.dʲe/, though other words […]

English, Irish, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments
%d bloggers like this: