Category: Other languages

happy and sad face

Laughing, crying, and disgust in languages around the world

Interjections like oh!, ah!, or phew! are natural ejaculations expressive of some feeling or emotion.  They are so called because they’re interjected (from Latin inter- ‘between’ and jacere ‘to throw’) between sentences, clauses, or words, mostly without grammatical connection. Although the interjection is often imitative, it is quite different from the onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word […]

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Monument to cosmonauts in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Astronauts vs cosmonauts: Russian influence on the language of space

Happy International Day of Human Space Flight! Or, if you’re a Russian speaker: С днем космонавтики! (Happy Cosmonautics Day)! The International Day of Human Space Flight recognizes the first manned space flight, which was undertaken by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on 12 April, 1961. Gagarin’s 108-minute Earth orbit (орбитальный облёт планеты Земля) won the first leg […]

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Why is French so prescriptive (and is English)?

Why is French so prescriptive (and is English)?

People in the UK are routinely amused and bemused by French-speakers’ hyper-sensitivity to language matters and by the steps taken by the French state to regulate linguistic behaviour. In the 60s and 70s, under the sway of Gaullism, successive governments targeted above all the use of Anglicisms. More recently, the Socialists have faced a tide […]

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Dutch slagroom means whipped cream in English

13 foreign words that sound rude in English

If you’re learning a foreign language you’ve probably been in this situation before: getting all excited about coming across a seemingly familiar word only to find out that its actual meaning is very different from what you expected. There’s no doubt that false friends – i.e. words or expressions that have similar forms to the […]

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UNESCO logo on longest mosaic wall in the world.

Infographic: endangered languages around the world

International Mother Language Day was first announced by UNESCO in 1999 to ‘promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world’. It has, since then, been observed every year on 21 February. For this occasion, we have created an infographic about endangered languages around the globe, with particular focus on […]

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Man holding a light bulb

Look who’s Tolkien now: inventing languages

What are invented languages? How are they created? Do they have a place in the modern world? Invented languages have been used for hundreds of years, perhaps most famously in books and TV shows such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Conlang (a shortened form of constructed language) entered both Oxford Dictionaries and the Oxford English Dictionary […]

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Samba School parade in Sambodromo.

12 essential words for the Brazilian carnival

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro kicks off on 5 February, so the next five days will once again see the Brazilian city playing host to seductive rhythms and scantily clad dancers. For this occasion, we’ve dived into the colourful vocabulary of the Brazilian carnival and came up with a list of words that we […]

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Placeholder names in English and other languages

Just your average Svensson: placeholder names in English and other languages

If you follow politics, you will have noticed that politicians often invoke the cliché of the ‘man in the street’. You may have heard them referring to the average Joe, Joe Bloggs, John Public, Joe Sixpack, etc. when talking to an audience, addressing everyone and no one, rather than someone in particular. The English language […]

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