Monthly Archives: December 2013

La Saint-Sylvestre

As today is New Year’s Eve I thought I’d look at what this day is called in various languages: French:la (fête de) Saint-Sylvestre, which is celebrated with le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre, a feast which well involve champagne and foie gras, and a party, with kisses under the mistletoe at midnight. Saint Sylvestre was Pope between […]

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English, French, German, Language, Spanish, Welsh, 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 5 Comments

Babbling and motherese

Over the past few days I’ve been observing, and to some extent participating, in my niece’s language acquisition. She is 8 months old and babbles a lot to herself and to others. Some of her babbling can sound like possible words, like dada, but they don’t seem to be associated with anything yet. She is […]

English, Language, Language acquisition, Russian, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Merry Christmas

Zalig kerstfeest / Nadolig Llawen / С Рождеством / Nollaig chridheil / Joyeux Noël / Nollick Ghennal / Frohe Weihnachten / Nollaig shona daoibh / A Blithe Yule and a Multilingual Merry Christmas to you. My Dutch studies a sort of on hold this week, but will continue after New Year – I was planning […]

Dutch, General, Language, Language learning, Russian 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 8 Comments

Bosky bosses

I discovered today that bos is a Dutch word for forest or wood, and this immediately made me think of the wonderful English word bosky, which is defined by the OED as “Consisting of or covered with bushes or underwood; full of thickets, bushy”. The OED says that bosky comes from bosk, a Middle English […]

Dutch, English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Fluent Forever

Today we have a guest post by Gabriel Wyner. Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you a project I’ve been working on to help folks learn languages faster. To help introduce it, let me give you some background on myself and what I do. I’m an opera singer, and for my career, I needed […]

Language, Language learning, Pronunciation 1 Comment

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

Fudge and flapdoodle!

Another interesting word I came across this week is flapdoodle /flæpˈduːd(ə)l/, which the OED defines as ‘the stuff they feed fools on’, which comes from the following quote: ‘The gentleman has eaten no small quantity of flapdoodle in his lifetime.’ ‘What’s that, O’Brien?’ replied I… ‘Why, Peter,’ rejoined he, ‘it’s the stuff they feed fools […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Sun dogs, billygoat’s eyes and halos

The other day I discovered the wonderful word sun dog, which refers to coloured patches of light that appear beside the sun at certain times, particularly when the sun is low in the sky. The scientific name for this phenomenon is a parhelion, from the παρήλιον (parēlion – beside the sun); from παρά (para – […]

English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments