Monthly Archives: May 2014

Cuckoo bells

I discovered this week that in Welsh bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are known as Clychau’r Gog (“cuckoo bells”), which I really like the sound of. They are also known as Bwtias y Gog (“cuckoo’s boots”), Croeso Haf (“welcome summer”), Cennin y Brain (“crows’ leeks”), Clychau’r Eos (“nightingale’s bells”), Glas y Llwyn (“green blue of the grove”), […]

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Breton, English, French, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

LOL @ 25

According to an article I found in The Guardian today the accronym LOL (laughing out loud) first appeared 25 years ago in the International FidoNet Association Newsletter dated 8 May 1989. The article mentions a few equivalents in other languages: “ㅋㅋㅋ” (KKK) in Korean; MDR or mort de rire (died of laughter) in French; and […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 4 Comments

Code talkers

The role of the Navajo and other Native American tribes played in secret communications or code talking in World War II is fairly well known, and today I found out on the BBC News magazine that members of Choctaw Nation played a similar role in World War I. They communicated military information via phone, and […]

Endangered languages, Language 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 12 Comments

Knock Cnoc

The element Knock is quite common in place names in Ireland, e.g. Ballyknock, Castleknock, Gortknock, Kilknock and Knockaderry [source]. There’s also quite a few places called simply Knock, the best known of which is the Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland , which is known as An Cnoc (the hill) or Cnoc […]

English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

I’m full / J’ai trop mangé

When you’ve finished a meal and are asked if you’d like any more, in English you might decline the offer by saying “Thanks, but I’m full”; “No thanks, I’ve had plenty”; “No, I’d better not, thank you”; “Thanks, but I couldn’t eat another thing”; “No thanks, I’m stuffed”, or even “No thank you, I have […]

Language 6 Comments

Logoburroo and other place names

If an Australian visitor to the UK asked you for directions to somewhere they called Logoburroo [lɔgɜʉbəˈrʊː] would you know what place they were referring to? A friend of mine heard an Australian pronouncing Loughborough, a town in Leicestershire in central England, in this way and thought it was an interesting attempt at the name. […]

English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 12 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

Curing, cleaning and caring

Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different French translations of the verb to cure, depending on what kind of cure you’re talking about. If you’re curing food by salting, the French equivalent is saler (to salt); curing by smoking is fumer (to smoke), and curing by drying is sécher (to dry). Curing […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Woordenschat

I came across an interesting Dutch word today – Woordenschat [ˈʋoːɾdəsxɑt] – which means vocabulary. Woorden = words and schat = treasure, and also love honey, darling, sweetheart. So woordenschat is a “treasure of words” or “word treasure”. It reminds me of the English expression wordhoard, an alternative term for vocabulary, from the Old English […]

Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments