Monthly Archives: June 2012

The future is behind you

According to an interesting article I came across today, in Tuvan (Тыва дыл), a Turkic language spoken in the Republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, the future is behind you and the past is in front of you. Which makes sense as you can ‘see’ the past, or at least remember it, but you can’t […]

Chinese, Grammar, Language 11 Comments

Zulu songs

In the Bangor Comunity Choir we often sing songs from southern Africa in languages like Xhosa and Zulu. I don’t speak these languages, yet, and neither does anybody in the choir, so we’re never entirely sure how to pronounce the words. We usually have a rough translation of the words, so we at least know […]

Language, Music, Zulu 4 Comments

I’m going Llandudno

The other day in the supermarket I heard a bloke say to his friend something like, “Tomorrow I’m going Llandudno” – the lack of to after going struck me as slightly strange, though the utterance was perfectly understandable. I’ve heard a few other people talking about going to places without the to and wondered if […]

English, Grammar, Language 17 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 10 Comments

Gendarmes et policiers

Yesterday there was some discussion of the police at the French Conversation Group – one of the members is a former policeman. We use the word policier, but later I remembered that another French word for policeman is gendarme, and it suddenly dawned on me that gendarme probably comes from gens d’armes (armed man). I […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 5 Comments


While listening to Raidió na Gaeltachta (Irish language radio) today I noticed much use of the word “Jeepers!“. It’s not a word I’ve heard much before so it caught my attention. According to the Free Dictionary, jeepers is used to express surprise or annoyance and is a euphemism for Jesus. A variation on this, “Jeepers […]

English, Irish, Language 17 Comments

Kurdish in Turkish schools

According to an article I came across today, the Turkish government plan to introduce Kurdish language lessons in schools, if there is suffient demand. About 12% of Turkey’s population speaks Kurdish, so it’s likely that there will be demand for these lesson, especially in Eastern Turkey, where most of the Kurds live. Until 2002 there […]

Education, Language 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 7 Comments

Baguette de tambour

Yesterday I discovered that in French a drumstick is a baguette de tambour, which conjured up images of French drummers playing their drums with long loaves of bread. The word baguette comes from the Italian word bacchetta (little rod), a diminutive of bacchio (rod), from the Latin baculum (stick, staff). As well as meaning a […]

English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Heb os nac oni bai

Heb os nac oni bai is a Welsh expression I heard on the radio this morning that means ‘without (a) doubt’ or ‘definitely’, or literally ‘without an if or an unless’. From the context and the meanings of some of the individual words I was able to work out the meaning of the phrase, though […]

English, German, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 5 Comments
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