2,000 Languages!

Yesterday I added two new language pages to Omniglot Nanggu (an Oceanic language spoken in the Solomon Islands) and Uneapa (an Oceanic language spoken in Papua New Guinea). Why do I mention this? Well, Uneapa happens to be the 2,000th language on Omniglot, and I thought that’s something to celebrate.

2,000 days

When I started Omniglot back in 1998, it was just a little site to promote a web design and translation business I tried to set up. I added information about languages I knew and could work with, and then starting adding details of alphabets and other writing systems, and the languages written with them.

Since then, the site has grown a bit and now has some 7,600 pages, with details of 345 writing sytems, 900+ constructed and adapted scripts, 2,000 languages, useful phrases in 362 languages, numbers in 1,081 languages, and much more.

Here are some significant moments from the past 26 years:

1998 – Omniglot begins

1999 – I started working as a web developer specialising in multilingual websites in Brighton (& Hove). I continued to work on Omniglot in my spare time while I was there.

2000 – Omniglot.com registered as a domain

2003 – Revenue from Omniglot starts to trickle in, mainly from commission on Amazon sales

2004 – visitor numbers to Omniglot reached 100,000 per month

2005 – I went to Donegal in the northwest of Ireland to study Irish language and songs for the first time. I went there for a week or two every summer until 2019.

Omniglot blog

2006 – Omniglot blog launched. My first post, after a welcome one, was about Language and memory. Since then, I have written 3,767 more posts, including this one.

2007 – I launched the Omniglot YouTube channel. My first video was a silly little conversation in French and English about flying monkeys and other strange things. Since then, I’ve posted another 239 videos.

2008 – I was made redundant from my job in Brighton and started working on Omniglot full-time, while doing a bit of freelance work for other websites. I also registered Omniglot as a limited company.

My new house

2008-2009 – I moved to Bangor in north Wales to do an MA in Linguistics at Bangor University. I’ve been here ever since.

2010 – I bought a house in Bangor after renting for a couple of years.

2011 – visitor numbers to Omniglot reached 1 million per month.

2012 – I started writing songs, inspired by a poetry writing workshop I went to in Bangor, and by a singing class I started attending in 2010. Since January 2019, I’ve written at least one new song every month. Here’s the first song I wrote:

2014 – I went to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, and to the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. They were my first large polyglot events I’d attended, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Since then, I’ve been to quite a few others in Europe and North America.

2015 – visitor numbers reached 2 million per month. I also started writing tunes this year. I think this is the first tune I wrote, played by me on the harp:

2016 – peak year so far in terms of visitor numbers and revenue from Omniglot. Thanks to my frugal habits, savings and income from my site, I was able to pay off my mortgage in full this year.

2017 – I started studying languages on Duolingo every day while recovering from a little ice skating accident involving a broken ankle, and have continued to do so ever since. My current streak is at 2,481 days today. So far I’ve studied Russian, Romanian, Czech, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish, Japanese, Scottish Gaelic and Irish. I had some knowledge of most of them before, but Romanian, Danish and Finnish were completely new to me. I wouldn’t claim to speak any of them fluently or flawlessly, but I can at least have conversations in them.

2018 – I started Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages. My first post was about words for Big, Large & Great and related things. Since then, I have written 419 more posts, and have been working to improve the earlier posts, which tended to be quite basic.

This blog, under a different name, had previously been about my language learning efforts and travels, but I moved the old posts to my main Omniglot blog, decided to focus on Celtic languages instead.

I also started the Radio Omniglot blog and podcast. Episode 1 was about My Language Learning Adventures. Since then, I have written and recorded 381 more posts and podcasts.

2021 – I added the 1,500th language (Akawaio) to Omniglot.

Studio / Stwdio

2021 / 2022 – I had a home office / studio built in my garden. Since then, it’s been the place where I do most of my work, and make podcasts and other recordings.

My home office / studio

2024 – I added the 2,000th language (Uneapa) to Omniglot.

Unlimited Web Hosting - Kualo



Last week I was on holiday. I spent most of the time learning Scottish Gaelic songs at a college on the Isle of Skye, and stopped at my mum’s in Lancashire for a few days on the way back. I had a wonderful time, met some interesting people, and learnt some beautiful songs.

The winning quiz team

It was my 9th visit to the college since 2008 and certainly won’t be my last. When I first went there I used as much Scottish Gaelic as I knew, and filled in any gaps with Irish, which I speak more or less fluently. As the two languages are closely related, this sort of works, though differences in the pronunciation and meaning of words can lead to some misunderstandings.

A view from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

Recently I’ve been learning a lot more Gaelic with Duolingo, and can now speak it fairly well. This makes understanding the songs easier, although they often use poetic and old-fashioned words that don’t usually appear in my lessons. As well as speaking Gaelic, I also spoke some Dutch, Japanese, Welsh and a bit of English.

Normally I try to add a certain number of pages to Omniglot each week, and to write blog posts, and make podcasts and videos. Last week I didn’t do any of that, apart from one Celtiadur post, and had a break from it all, which was great.

This got me thinking – do I really need to do so much every week? Did you miss the Adventure in Etymology last week, or the Celtic Pathways or Omniglot News podcast, or the new language and other pages that weren’t added to Omniglot? Were you aware of all of these?

Maybe I’ll start doing the Adventures in Etymology every other week, and alternating with the Celtic Pathways podcast.

Incidentally, here’s a little piece I wrote on the train from Glasgow to Mallaig. I was trying to write a train-related song, and came up with this. I haven’t thought of a tune for it yet.

The snake of steel
rattles and shakes
through steep glens
where eagles soar
past foaming fishpaths
where waterdogs play
through empty lands
where none do bide
to the ocean’s edge
where seals hide
and the water meets the sky

The threads of distraction
are loosened
and there’s time to see
beyond the wind’s eye
time to think and dream
to talk and rest
As the iron horse
clitters and clatters
Along the metal road

I’m also working on a song in Scottish Gaelic inspired by my lessons in Duolingo. It’s called Thoir an Aire (Watch out).

Thoir An Aire (Watch Out)
Seist (Chorus)
Thoir an aire, thoir an aire (Watch out, watch out)
Thoir an aire, tha Iain a’ tighinn (Watch out, Iain is coming)
Thoir an aire, thoir an aire (Watch out, watch out)
Tha Iain rùisgte is tha e a’ tighinn (Iain is naked and he’s coming)

Ghoid Màiri a drathais (Mairi stole his underpants)
Ghoid Màiri a briogais (Mairi stole his trousers)
Ghoid Màiri a geansaidh gorm is geal (Mairi stole his blue and white jersey)
Ghoid Màiri a lèine (Mairi stole his shirt)
Ghoid Màiri a brògan (Mairi stole his shoes)
Ghoid Màiri aodach Iain gu lèir (Mairi stole all his clothes)

Ruith air falbh, ruith air falbh (Run away, run away)
Ruith air falbh tha Iain a’ tighinn (Run away, Iain is coming)
Ruith air falbh, ruith air falbh (Run away, run away)
Tha guga aige is tha e a’ tighinn (He has salted gannet and he’s coming)

Càit bheil Calum? (Where is Calum?)
Càit a bheil Coinneach? (Where is Kenneth?)
Càit a bheil Ceiteag? (Where is Katie?)
Am faca tu iad? (Have you seen them?)
Càit a bheil Mairead? (Where is Margaret?)
Càit a bheil Mòrag? (Where is Morag?)
Ruith iad air falbh (They ran away)
oir tha Iain a’ tighinn (because Iain is coming)

All photos were taken by me. The videos are from the end-of-course cèilidh at SMO. I’m not sure who took them.


Do you make New Year’s resolutions?


If you have made any this year, are any of them related to languages?

I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions, and when I do, I rarely keep them. Sometimes I do manage to stick at things, at least for a while. Today, for example, my current streak on Duolingo reached 1,628 days. I’m learning Japanese and Spanish there, and keeping my Danish and Swedish ticking over. I’m also learning Dutch on Memrise, although I do miss occasional days. I don’t plan to learn any new languages for now, but who knows what could happen.

Meanwhile on Omniglot, I will carry on adding new material and improving the existing pages.

I’m taking a break from the monthly Radio Omniglot podcasts after reaching episode 50 in December, but will keep making the weekly Adventures in Etymology series and Omniglot News podcasts and videos. I also plan to add a new series – Celtic Routes – which will explore links within the Celtic language family, and between Celtic languages and other European languages. This will be based on my Celtiadur blog.

In other news, I’ve finally found a way to reduce some of the clutter of ads at the bottom of the pages on Omniglot.com using a PHP script that displays a different banner each time you refresh the page. Ideally there wouldn’t be any banners or other ads, but I do sort of need to make a living, and the ads help with that.


One of the things that really interests me is finding connections between languages. This is one reason why I enjoy working on Omniglot, and writing and talking about words and etymologies.


Recently I’ve been concentrating on Mayan languages, as you may have noticed. There are now details of all the Mayan languages currently in use on Omniglot, apart from Cauque Mayan, or Kaqchikel-K’iche’ Mixed Language, which is spoken in Santa María Cauqué in the Department of Sacatepéquez in southern Guatemala. If any of you know more about this language, do let me know.

There are also numbers pages, phrases pages, and versions of Tower of Babel story in various Mayan languages. I’ll be adding more numbers pages soon.

When putting together these pages, particularly the numbers and phrases ones, I notice the similarities and differences between them, and I find patterns and connections, which is endlessly facsinating to me.

In a Celtiadur post I wrote yesterday, I discovered connections between words for thunder, tornado and Thursday in Celtic and other European languages.

When learning languages that are related to each other, such as Danish and Swedish, and/or related to languages I already know, I also find connections. Sometimes I have to dig deep into the origins of words to find those links, and this helps me remember them.

Are you learning, or have you learnt, several similar languages at the same time? Do you get them muddled at all? If not, how do you avoid confusion?


A Manx milestone

Yesterday I added details of a language called Akawaio (Ka’pon) to Omniglot. It’s a Cariban language spoken mainly in northern Guyana, and also in northern Brazil and eastern Venezuela, by about 6,380 people.

You may be wondering why I mention this. What’s so special about this language? Well, it just happens to be the 1,500th language I’ve written about on Omniglot, and it feels like a significant milestone to me. There are many more languages out there: 7,139, according to Ethnologue – so only another 5,639 to go! That should keep me busy for a while.

Of the languages on Omniglot, the majority (1,107) are written with the Latin alphabet. There are also 126 written with the Cyrillic alphabet, 75 written with the Arabic alphabet, 72 written with the Devanagari alphabet, and smaller numbers of languages written with other alphabets and writing systems. [More language and writing stats]

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to find information about languages that don’t yet appear on Omniglot. About 4,065 of the world’s languages have a written form, although many are rarely written, and the remaining 3,074 are probably unwritten [source]. There is little or no documentation for many languages, and what documentation there is can be difficult to find. Inspite of this, I will continue to add new language profiles to Omniglot, and appreciate any help you can offer.

An Omniglot minion

I’ve been working on Omniglot on my own since 1998 – there are no minions or other assistants to help me. However, many other people have contributed to Omniglot, by sending me corrections, new material, suggestions, donations and so on, and I am profoundly grateful to all of them.

This is the 3,414th post I’ve written on this blog since launching it in March 2006. At first I tried to write something every day, but soon realised that was too much. At the moment I aim to write two posts a week, plus the language quiz on Sundays.

In April 2007 I started uploading videos to YouTube. Some of the videos feature silly little conversations in languages I’m learning. Others involve music-related events I’ve taken part in, and tunes and songs I’ve written. In 2021 I started uploading videos more regularly, particularly videos about words and etymology, and some songs as well. As well as the Adventures in Etymology videos I upload on Sundays, I plan to make videos featuring alphabets, phrases, etc in a variety of languages. Here’s one I made of the Danish alphabet:

Since June 2018 I’ve made 42 episodes of the Radio Omniglot Podacast, and 5 episodes of Adventures in Etymology, a new series I started in March 2021. It started as a series of videos I made for Instagram and Facebook, then I posted them on Youtube as well, and decided to add them to the Radio Omniglot site. I have ideas for other series I could make for Radio Omniglot, and would welcome any suggestions you may have.

In September 2018 I launched the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages. This is based the Celtic cognates part of Omniglot. So far I’ve written 227 posts, and add a new one every week.

Since 1998 I’ve become fluent in Welsh and Irish, regained my fluency in French, maintained my fluency in Mandarin Chinese, more or less, and have learned enough Esperanto, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Dutch to have at least basic conversations. I’ve also learnt quite a bit of Russian and Czech, and some Romanian, Cantonese, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Icelandic, Faroese, British Sign Language, Breton and Cornish.

I’m currently concentrating on Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Dutch, while trying to maintain my other languages, particularly French and Welsh. For the past 4 years or so I’ve studied languages every day on Duolingo – my current streak reached 1,369 today. I’ve also been using Mondly and Memrise. [More about my language learning adventures].

While not working on Omniglot or learning languages, I like to sing, play musical instruments and write songs and tunes. My musical adventures started long before Omniglot, but for many years after leaving school I only really listened to music. In 2005 I started going to Ireland every summer to learn Irish language, and also Irish songs, tunes and dances. This inspired me to take up music again. Since then I’ve learnt to play the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, cavaquinho and harp, and started playing the recorder, piano and tin whistle again. I’ve learnt songs in many different languages, and written quite a few songs and tunes.

Here’s a song I wrote in 33 different languages:

Enough of this shameless self-promotion. What about you? Have you reached any significant milestones recently?

Languages on Omniglot

Today I added details of a two languages to Omniglot: Dhurwa (ପରଜି / धुरवा), a Central Dravidian language spoken in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha in eastern India; and Paresi (Haliti), an Arawakan language spoken in the state of Mato Grosso in central Brazil.

The total number of language profiles on Omniglot is now 1,300 – only a few less than the 7,000 or so languages currently spoken! The total is actually a bit higher as some pages include details of more than one language, but 1,300 is a nice round number.

So it’s unlikely I’ll run out of languages to add, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find information, especially about how languages are written and pronounced. If you know where to find such details about any languages not already on Omniglot, do let me know.

Caneuon, dawns a bwyd

Bore ddoe mi wnes i tipyn bach o waith ar Omniglot – wi wnes i ateb e-byst yn bennaf, fel arfer. Tua hanner dydd mi es i i’r prifysgol i weld perfformiadau gan myfyrwyr presennol yr adran Astudiaethau Asia Dwyrain. Mi wnaethon nhw perfformio tipyn bach o opera Beijing yn Mandarineg a Saesneg, ac mi wnaethon nhw adrodd sonedau Shakespeare yn Saesneg a Thai, ac mi wnaeth ferch yn canu cân pop yn Siapaneg. Mi wnaeth athrawes Thai dawns Thai traddodiadol hefyd. Mi wnes i crwydro o gwmpas Leeds am sbel yn y prynhawn, a gyda’r nos roedd pryd o fwyd yn nhŷ bwyta Tsieineaidd efo cynfyfyrwyr ac athrawon. Ro’n i ar fwrdd efo cynfyfyrwyr o 1995. Roedd y bwyd yn flasu iawn, ac mi wnes i mwynhau’r noson yn fawr.

Yesterday morning I did a bit of work on Omniglot – I mainly answered emails, as usual. At about midday I went to the university to see performances by current students in the East Asian Studies department. They performed bits of Beijing opera in Mandarin and English, and they recited some of Shakespeare’s sonnets in English and Thai, and one lass sang a Japanese pop song. A Thai lecturer also did a traditional Thai dance. I had a wander around Leeds in the afternoon for a while, and in the evening there was a meal in a Chinese restaurant with alumni and staff. I was on a table with alumni from 1995. The food was delicious, and I really enjoyed the evening.

Dydd diog

Mi wnes tipyn bach o waith y bore ‘ma, ac ar ôl cinio mi wnes i dysgu mwy o Lydaweg, mi wnes ymarfer fy medrau sircas, ac mi wnes i canu’r gitâr, y piano a rhyw offer eraill. Mi wnes i dechrau sgwennu cân newydd hefyd – cân y fydd yn cymysgu diarhebion, ymadroddion a llafarddulliau efo’n gilydd mewn moddion diddorol a doniol. Does dim tôn eto, ond mae gen i rhyw llinellau o eiriau. Enw y gân ydy ‘How many roads?’ a dyma’r llinell gyntaf: ‘How many roads must a chicken cross, before it grows any teeth?’.

I did some work this morning, and after lunch I learnt a bit more Breton, practised my circus skills, and played the guitar, piano and a few other instruments. I also started to write a new song, which will mix proverbs, sayings, idioms in interesting and amusing ways. I don’t have a tune yet, but I have a few lines of words. The name of the song is ‘How many roads?’ and here’s the first line: ‘How many roads must a chicken cross, before it grows any teeth?’.


Fel arfer, mi wnes i tipyn bach o waith y bore ‘ma – mi wnes i ateb e-byst a rhoi recordiadau newydd ar y tudalen ymadroddion Sinhaleg – ac roedd sesiwn cerddoriaeth yma yn y prynhawn. Roedd tri ohonon ni yma y prynhawn ‘ma yn chwarae amrywiad o offerynau a cherddoriaeth. Gyda’r hwyr mi es i i’r côr cymunedol Bangor ac mi wnaethon ni’n canu caneuon yn Saesneg, Cymraeg a Xhosa, ac roedd llawer o bobl yna, yn cynnwys rhyw pobl newydd.

As usual, I did a bit of work this morning – I answered emails and put new recordings in the Sinhala phrases page – and there was a music session here in the afternoon. There were three of us here this afternoon playing a variety of instruments and music. In the evening I went to the Bangor Community Choir and we sang songs in English, Welsh and Xhosa, and there were plenty of people there, including some new ones.

Dydd amlieithog

Dydd eitha nodweddiadol oedd ddoe efo tipyn bach o waith yn bore, ac yn y prynhawn mi wnes i ymarfer y piano, y gitár ac offerynnau eraill, ac mi wnes i dysgu tipyn bach mwy o Lydaweg. Gyda’r nos mi wnes i darllen, a gwilio rhaglen teledu arlein. Heno roedd tri ohonon ni yn yr grŵp sgwrsio amlieithog, ac mi wnaethon ni siarad yn y Gymraeg ac yn Ffrangeg yn bennaf. Ar ôl hynny mi es i i Global Café, grŵp ar gyfer myfyrwyr rhyngwladol a lleol, a phobl eraill, a mi wnes i cwrdd a llawer o bobl gwahanol, a ges i gyfleoedd i siarad sawl ieithoedd, yn cynnwys Mandarineg, Cantoneg, Ffrangeg, Eidaleg, Sbaeneg ac Almaeneg.

Yesterday was a fairly typical day with a bit of work in the morning, and I practised the piano, guitar and other instruments in the afternoon, and learnt a bit more Breton. In the evening I read and watched a television programme online. This evening there were three of us in the polyglot group and we talked mainly in Welsh and French. After that I went to Global Café, a group for international students and locals students, and others, and I met lots of different people and had opportunities to speak many languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, French, Italian, Spanish and German.