Monthly Archives: July 2013

It’s very sticky

I discovered (via Inky Fool) an alternative word for tennis today – sphairistike [sfɛəˈrɪstɪkɪ], which sounds a bit like the phrase ‘it’s very sticky’. This was the name coined by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield (pictured right), who invented (lawn) tennis in 1873, and it comes from the Greek σϕαιριστική (sfairistiké), or ‘(skill) in playing at […]

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English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language 2 Comments

Ресторанчики

I came across the word ресторанчики (restoranchiki) in the Russian lesson I’m working on today. It is the plural of ресторанчики, a diminutive of ресторан (restaurant), which has no exact equivalent I can think of in English – maybe restaurantette. You could say a little restaurant and a tiny restaurant, but I’m not sure if […]

English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 12 Comments

Dialing a telephone

An email arrived today from Phil S, who has been wondering about the quirkiness of the phrase “to dial a telephone”, which is ubiquitous and exclusive in its meaning and yet has, of course, become totally divorced from the original physicality of the phrase. He would like to know: – What idioms do other languages […]

English, French, German, Italian, Language, Words and phrases 15 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

Gwymona

While putting together this week’s mots de la semaine, some of the interesting words and phrases that come in the French conversation group I go to on Thursday evenings, I discovered the Welsh word gwymona [gʊɨˈmɔna], which means “to gather seaweed (for fertilizer)” – an interesting and specific meaning. It comes from the word for […]

English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Focus

This month I’ll mainly be focusing on improving my Irish (Gaelic). This is mainly because I’m going to a summer school in Irish language and culture at Oideas Gael in Donegal at the end of this month, as I’ve done every year for the past six years, plus two years going there in June. I […]

English, Irish, Language, Language learning 4 Comments