Multilingual romance

If you come over all romantic today, for some reason or other, and wish to declare your love for another, this infographic will help you do so in a variety of languages.

I love you in many differenct languages


Note: the sign language referred to here is American Sign Language (ASL). For this phrase in other sign languages see: Spread the Sign – my favourite is the German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache) version, though it looks more like the sign for butterfly/Schmetterling.

This video might also be of interest:

See also: (includes recordings)

English, Language, Words and phrases 8 Comments

A banana regime

I discovered yesterday that the French equivalent of a bunch of bananas is un régime des bananes. Régime also means (political) regime, (administrative) system, (engine) speed/revs, and un régime alimentaire is a diet.

Other French words for bunch include:

– un bouquet de fleurs = a bunch of flowers
– un trousseau de clés = a bunch of keys
– une grappe de raisin = a bunch of grapes
– une groupe de gens = a bunch of people
– les couettes = bunches (of hair)

English, French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

New Omniglot design

My redesign of Omniglot is now complete, except for the homepage. All inner pages are now aligned to the left, and have drop-down menus at the top, which should make it easier to find your way around, and should work well on all sizes of screen. Initially I tried to keep the central alignment, but couldn’t work out how to centre the menu, so gave up on that. Then I realised that the left alignment gives more flexibility, which is one of the goals of the new design. I’ve also finally finished converting the whole site to HTML5 – this doesn’t change the look of it, but does make managing it easier, and streamlines the code.

I have been working on a new homepage and am trying to come up with a fluid design that works well on all screen sizes. You can see what I’ve done so far here – this page is changes frequently as I try out different layouts and adjust the contents and images.

Does the new design work for you?

Have you spotted anything that could be improved?

What do you think should appear on the homepage?

General 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 3 Comments

Un sabot de Denver

Wheel clamp / Sabot de Denver

I discovered yesterday that in French a wheel clamp is known as a sabot de Denver (“Denver hoof/clog/shoe/boot”), and wondered what Denver has to do with wheel clamps.

On Wikipedia is explains that such devices were first used in Denver, Colorado, and are known as a wheel boot, parking boot or Denver boot in the USA. The wheel boot was invented by Frank Marugg in 1944 and first used in 1955 in Denver. One type of wheel clamp used in the UK was originally called the Preston, after Trevor Whitehouse, the inventor’s home town. They were first used in 1991 [source].

Are they used in other countries?

If so, what are they called?

English, French, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Just popping out

A interesting English expression I’ve noticed in novels I’ve been reading recently is the verb to pop, which is often accompanied by prepositions such as out, in, round and down, and preceded by just.

For example:
– I’m just popping out to the shop, do you want anything?
– I might pop in at some point for a peek at your pictures.
– I popped down to the pub last night.

It usually means to go somewhere for a short time and then return to wherever you were. In some contexts drop (by/round) can be used instead of pop: “Do pop in / drop by if you’re free this afternoon”, for example.

Words can also just pop out without you thinking about them first, e.g. “I didn’t mean to say that – it just popped out.” [source]

Are there expressions in other languages that have a similar meaning?

English, Language, Words and phrases 5 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 12 Comments


I learnt an interesting word from a Dutch friend today – klunen – which refers to the action of walking on the ground in ice skates, something you might do while you’re skating along a frozen canal and come to a bridge you can’t go under, either because it’s too low, or the ice under it is too thin, so you have to walk around it. This is a wonderfully specific word and I can’t think of an equivalent in English, or any other language. Can you?

Here’s an example of useage:

Onder de brug lag geen ijs, dus we moesten erlangs klunen.
There was no ice under the bridge, so we had to walk round it.

It apparently comes from Frisian, and can also mean ‘to carry one’s canoe/kayak around impassable obstacles in the water’. There’s is a word for that action in English: portage, which comes from the French porter (to carry).

Sources: and Wiktionary

Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 9 Comments


At the moment I’m focusing on improving my Russian and Czech, and am trying to keep my other languages ticking over. I’ve starting using Anki to store and learn words and phrases, and am finding it very useful. For words that can be visually represented, I use pictures rather than translations on the flash cards – an idea from Gabriel Wyner’s book Fluent Forever. For other words and phrases I use English translations. I’ve briefly dabbled with SRS programs like Anki before, but never really gave them much time. Now I’m starting to see how useful and effective they can be, especially if you make your own lists, rather than relying on those made by others.

Another way I’m using to help me remember words is to learn the equivalent signs from the appropriate sign language, which I find in the Spread The Sign multilingual sign language dictionary. So I’m learning Czech words and Czech Sign Language signs, and so on. This gives me gestures I can link to the spoken and written words, and I hope it will help me to remember them.

Do you use Anki or other SRS / flash card programs? Do you find them useful?

Czech, English, Language, Language learning, Russian 2 Comments


I came across the Czech word zženštilý yesterday among translations of soft and the pile up of consonants got me wondering whether it was a real word or a typo. I discovered that it is a real word and means: soft, epicene, girly-girly, namby-pamby, nance, effeminate, effeminize, emasculate, pansy, soft, softish, unmanly, womanish, womanlike, sissified [source].

Related words include:

– zženštilec = effeminize
– zženštilost = effeminacy, unmanliness, womanishness
– zženštit = to womanize

These words often have negative connotations in English. Do they have similar connotations in Czech and other languages? Are there any languages in which such words have positive connotations?

Other Czech words for soft include:

– poddajný = soft, flexible, pliant, docile
– pozvolný = soft, gentle, gradual, insidious
– jemný = soft, bland, delicate, elegant, pigeon-hearted, sheer, silken, tender, fine, gentle, mild, milky
– měkký = soft, compliant, crumbly, downy, pulpy, smooth, tender, flabby, flaccid, meek, mild
– slabý = soft, weak, bloodless, complaisant, effete, washy, weak, weakly, shallow, small
– mírný = soft, tranquil, balmy, clement, pacific, peaceable, peaceful, reasonable, restful, gentle, lenient, meek, mild
– vlácný = soft, plastic, pliant, supple
– něžný = soft, subtle, pigeon-hearted, silky, sweet, tender, affectionate, caressing, delicate, fond, gentle, milky
– nezpevněný = soft, unconsolidated, unpaved, washy
– hebký = soft, smooth, downy, velvety, fleecy

What I was looking for was soft as in not hard (of material), so I think the first one, poddajný, is probably the one I want, or maybe měkký.

Czech, English, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments
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