Homeward bound

Yesterday I had a good time in London with a Russian-speaking friend. We talked mainly in English with a sprinkling of Russian from time to time. In the morning we went to the Design Museum and saw a special exhibition about Moscow, which was interesting. Then had a wander around Holland Park, which is beautiful, especially at this time of year when lots of trees are in blossom (see below).

A photo of the Kyoto Garden (京都庭園) Holland Park in London

After lunch in Hammersmith we played mini golf in Acton Park, which was great fun. Neither of us were very good, but I did manage to get one hole in one. In the evening we went tango dancing, then watched a Russian film – an interesting re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast story called Аленький цветочек (The Scarlet Flower). There were no subtitles, and my Russian isn’t yet good enough to understand much, so my friend translated for me. The Russian they use in the film is old-fashioned, and they speak in a very dramatic, almost operatic way, so it’s not easy to understand.

Сегодня я еду домой or I’m going home today (“Today I go/travel homeward”). The word домой [dɐˈmoj] is one I learnt and used quite a bit yesterday. It means home, homeward or to the house, and related words/forms include:

дом [dom] = house, home, family, household
дома [ˈdomə] = at home (genetive singular)
домашний [dɐˈmaʂnʲɪj] = home, household, house; private; domestic, family; home-made, homespun
домовой [dəmɐˈvoj] = house; a house spirit or sprite
домосед [dəmɐˈsʲet] = stay-at-home, homebody

Source: Wiktionary

Tell me all about it

According to an article on Science Daily, a good way to remember something you’re learnt is to tell someone else about it, or to test yourself on it.

A study got students to watch films, then asked them to describe what they’d seen afterwards. Those who told someone about the films just after watching them remembered the core and peripheral details, whereas others only remember some of the core details.

I use this technique quite often, without realising it – I like to talk about books I’ve read, films I’ve seen, and events I’ve been to, and find that if I do this not long afterwards, I tend to remember more details, and retain those memories longer.

When learning languages I sometimes test myself on what I’ve learnt, and try to put the words and structures into new sentences to make little conversations. When I try to explain things to other people I find that there are often gaps in my knowledge, maybe because I leave it too long before doing this.

Do you use these techniques at all?

Do they work for you?

Slop stones

A photo of a slopstone

Last night I went to a very interesting talk by a member of Mourholme Local History Society, which my mum has been part of for many years. The talk, entitled ‘Flush and Forget in Silverdale’, was about water supplies and drainage in Silverdale in Lancashire, where my mum lives and where I grew up.

A photo of a limestone pavement

Silverdale is a village on Morecambe Bay in the far north of Lancashire. There are no rivers or streams, so until it was connected to mains water in 1938, the local people relied on rain water. This was collected in wells built in places were the water didn’t all drain away through the limestone, which is the main bedrock of the area (see photo on the right), and in tanks in the basements of buildings filled by rain from roofs.

Pumps were used to draw water from the basement tanks, and under the spouts of the pumps there were shallow sinks known as slop stones which were made of wood, slate or stoneware. Isn’t that a wonderful word – slop stone?

The village was originally a collection of tiny hamlets that grew up around the water sources and the population was small. The population increased over time, especially after the arrival of the railway in 1858, and is now about 1,600.

Silverdale apparently could have been connected to mains water earlier, but the local people objected to the cost and claimed they were happy with the existing arrangements. The presenter also mentioned other occasions when the villagers had been reluctant to spend more than absolutely necessary. I wasn’t aware that the people of Silverdale were stingy, at least in the past.

A photo of the water tanks in Eaves Wood in Silverdale
Water tanks built to collect rain water and supply houses in Silverdale.

There are many words for those averse to spend money. Most have negative conotations: stingy, tight, tightfisted, miserly, penny pinching, skinflint, while others are more positive: frugal, thrifty, economical, pennywise. Do you have any others?

Sources: http://www.mourholme.co.uk/?History:Silverdale
http://victoriandecorating.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/victorian-kitchen.html
http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/stingy

When is a blog not a blog?

When I meet people who are familiar with my website, some of them say how much they like my blog. When I ask them what they like about it, they mention things that are on my website, rather than on this blog, so I soon realise that they’re using the word blog to refer to my website, and possibly this blog, although not all of them are aware of the blog’s existence.

To me the distinction between my website and my blog(s) is clear. They may be on the same server, but they look different and have different functions. I’ve noticed that on some other websites though there isn’t such a clear distinction between blogs and other pages, especially on ones that have grown from blogs. Maybe that’s why people get confused.

Sometimes people tell me about mistakes on other sites which are linked to on Omniglot, thinking that I have something to do with them and can make changes on them. I understand why this happens as they might not realise that they’re on a different site.

None of these things are particularly important, but it’s interesting, to me at least, to notice them.

Is there a distinction between the words for website and blog in other languages?

Phrase finder

Screenshot of the phrase finder

There is a now a new way to view the phrases on Omniglot: a Phrase finder.

This page enables you to see phrases in any combination of two languages. This is something I’ve been planning to set up for years, and now it’s finally ready.

So if your native language isn’t English and you want to see phrases in your mother tongue and another language, you can.

If you want to see the similarities and differences between two closely related languages, you can.

If you want to see two completely different languages side by side, you can.

The phrases are stored in server-side includes and displayed on the page using PHP, which was written by David Stephens of LinguaShop.

The phrases are currently available in 233 languages. If you can provide phrases in other languages, or additional phrases for the existing languages, or recordings, please contact me.

Finnish Language Day

Apparently today is Finnish Language Day or Suomen kielen päivä. It is the anniversary of the death of Mikael Agricola (c. 1510-1557), a clergyman who is known as the “father of literary Finnish” – he translated religious works into Finnish, including the New Testament, and modern Finnish spelling is based on his work. Before then there was no standard form of written Finnish [source].

It is also my birthday – Ta mee shey bleeaney as daeed d’eash jiu.