Monthly Archives: February 2013

Język polski w Anglii i Walii (Polish language in England and Wales)

The 2011 UK census found that Polish is the third most-spoken language in England and and Wales, after English and Welsh, and the second most-spoken language in England after English. According to a report in The Guardian, there are 546,000 speakers Polish in England and Wales, which is compared with the 562,000 people who report […]

English, Language, Polish, Welsh 2 Comments

Reviving neglected languages

I often meet people who say that they studied a language or two in school, but have since forgotten most of what they knew as they’ve had little need and few opportunities to speak the language(s). To some extent I’m in a similar position – since finishing school I have rarely spoken French or German, […]

French, German, Language, Language learning 9 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

International Mother Language Day

I just discovered that today is International Mother Language Day, and found this video about it: According the the UN website, “International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their […]

Language 1 Comment


The subject of snails came up this week at the polyglot conversation group and I discovered that the Cornish word for snail is bulhorn /ˈbʊl.hɔɾn/ (pl. bulhornes), which I particularly like, and which conjures up images of bullhorn (megaphone) wielding snails. We were also talking about slugs and didn’t know the Cornish or Welsh words […]

Cornish, English, German, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 17 Comments


When I learnt that the Breton word for television is skinwel, I wondered where it came from. Today I think I’ve found the answer (via TermOfis) – skin means ray, and appears in words such as: – skinek = radiant – skinad = radiation – skinañ = to radiate, shine, beam – skinforn = microwave […]

Breton, English, Language, Words and phrases 11 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

Harmony magpie

I went to a singing workshop in Porthmadog today and there I heard the interesting term harmony magpie, which is used to describe a someone who ends up singing like those around them, even if the others are singing a different part. The workshop leader recommended that any harmony magpies in the group should make […]

English, Language 3 Comments

Languages in the UK

Today I found maps on the Guardian website which show the percentages of speakers of languages other than English in a number of major UK cities. It is based on data from the 2011 census and shows where the speakers are concentrated. For example, the main concentration of Bengali speakers is in East London around […]

Arabic, Language, Polish 6 Comments

Cellar door words

The term cellar door has, according to J. R. R. Tolkien and a number of other writers, a particularly pleasing sound, even though its meaning isn’t anything special. An article in the New York Times discusses the origins of this idea, an example of phonaesthetics*, and cites a 1903 novel by Cyrus Lauron Hooper, Gee-Boy, […]

English, Etymology, Greek, Language 12 Comments
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