Monthly Archives: April 2013

Korriganed

Korriganed are apparently small creatures that live under standing stones (dolmen/menhirs) in Brittany. They feature in one of the lessons in my Breton course and are explained thus: “Les korrigans doivent être des êtres particulièrement petits, puisque ce mot est formé de korr, “nain”, puis du diminutif -ig puis du’un autre diminutif – obsolète aujourd’hui […]

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Breton, English, French, Language, Words and phrases 2 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 6 Comments

Quockerwodger

I came across the wonderful word quockerwodger on the BBC Radio 4 programme Wordaholics. Surprisingly it doesn’t appear in the OED, but on World Wide Words it is defined as “a wooden toy figure which jerks its limbs about when pulled by a string”, and also a politician whose strings are pulled by someone else. […]

English, Etymology, Language 4 Comments

Pseudolanguages

One way English speakers play with English is by making into Pig Latin. This involves move the first sound of each word to the end and adding “ay”; for example Pig Latin becomes Ig-pay atin-lay. If a word starts with a vowel you might add hey, way or yay to the end. This creates a […]

English, French, Language, Latin 10 Comments

Grammar and usage

Last week a friend suggested that it is grammatically correct to say “I go to the bar now”, even if it’s more usual to say “I’m going to the bar now”. We suggested that in English as spoken in the UK the first would be considered wrong, even though it’s understandable. My friend insisted that […]

English, Grammar, Irish, 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 13 Comments

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

On Anglesey not far from where I live, there’s a place with quite a long name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG for short. It has the longest officially recognised place name in Europe which was contrived during the 1860s by a local man who wanted to attract visitors to the town – with […]

English, Language, Welsh 12 Comments

The importance of stress

Last night at the Polyglot conversation group a friend who is learning Welsh told me about the difficulties he had when trying to buy a train ticket to Dolwyddelan, a small village in the Conwy valley in North Wales. None of the ways he tried to pronounce it were understood by the ticket seller, so […]

Language, Pronunciation, Welsh 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 4 Comments

Write

Last night a friend asked me why the word write begins with a silent w, so I thought I’d investigate. According to the OED, the word write comes from the Old English wrítan (to incise, engrave, write, draw; bestow by writing). It is related to the Old Frisian wrîta (to score, write) and the Old […]

English, Etymology, Language 7 Comments