Monthly Archives: November 2013

As flat as …

This week in the French conversation group one of the things that came up was the expression “as flat as a pancake” or the slightly ruder version, “as flat as a witch’s tit”. This was being used to describe the flatness of beer. The only equivalent we could find in French was “completement plat” (completely […]

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English, French, Language, Words and phrases 8 Comments

Aw, Snap!

I noticed recently that when a webpage crashes in the Google Chrome browser, you get an error message beginning with “Aw, Snap!”, which always amuses me. It’s not an expression I’ve ever used, and seeing it got me wondering whether it is in common use in other English-speaking countries. If you don’t use this expression, […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 8 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 8 Comments

How to learn any language in six months

I came across this TED talk yesterday in which Chris Lonsdale, a psychologist from New Zealand who runs a company in Hong Kong, talks about language learning. He believes that anybody can learn a language in six months if they follow the five principles and seven actions that he has formulated after assessing all the […]

Language, Language learning 7 Comments

Learning varieties of Chinese

The other day I was talking with a lad from Hong Kong. We were speaking mainly in Mandarin, with odd bits of Cantonese thrown in from time to time – I speak Mandarin fluently, but only know a little Cantonese. I asked him how he had learned Mandarin, and he said that he had just […]

Chinese, Language, Language learning 3 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

Taking the fly

I discovered an interesting French idiom today – prendre la mouche – which means literally ‘to take the fly’ and is the equivalent of ‘to go off in a huff’. Huff refers to ‘a passing mood of anger or pique’ A French equivalent of ‘to be in a huff’ is ĂȘtre vexĂ©. Are there similar […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Multicultural London English (MLE)

According to reports I have read this week a form of English is emerging in London. It combines elements from Cockney, Jamaican and other Caribbean Englishes, and from South Asian varieties of English. It is known as Jafaican (pseudo-Jamaican) by some, but researchers from Lancaster University believe that it is not white kids trying to […]

English, Language 4 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

Thumbs and inches

I discovered today that the French word for thumb, pouce, also means inch, which makes sense as the length of the inch is apparently based on the width of a man’s thumb. Related expressions include: – se tourner les pouces, se rouler les pouces = to twiddle one’s thumbs – manger sur le pouce = […]

Afrikaans, Czech, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Language, Slovak, Words and phrases 14 Comments