Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Category: Other languages

How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

In a guest blog article, David J Peterson uses his experience as a language creator on Game of Thrones, Defiance, and Dominion to discuss the world of conlang. My name is David Peterson, and I’m a conlanger. “What’s a conlanger,” you may ask? Thanks to the recent addition of the word “conlang” to the Oxford […]

Read more »
Tour de France

Le Tour de France: the vocab of le vélo

Spectators are expected to line the streets in their millions over the next few days as men in Lycra descend on Yorkshire. No, this is not a terrifying new reboot of Last of the Summer Wine, but the Grand Départ of the largest annual sporting event in the world – the Tour de France. Over […]

Read more »
Russian

Russian? It’s child’s play!

Although Russian isn’t as far removed from many European languages as you might think, it can’t help but appear impenetrable. Those funny letters, long words… Once you’ve mastered Russian’s complex grammar and got your head around those tricky consonant clusters, it often feels as if your language-learning journey is complete. That is, until you encounter […]

Read more »
musical terminology

An A-Z of musical terms

Even if you’ve not picked up an instrument since you were eight and tootled away on a recorder, or stood at the back of a school hall holding a tambourine, you probably know the odd piece of musical terminology – forte, perhaps, or andante might ring a bell. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty more where those […]

Read more »
Horizontally written letters

‘Horizontally written letters’: Japanese debates on loanwords

The use of foreign loanwords can be a contentious issue. The public attitude towards loanwords not only reveals their view on foreign influences but also demonstrates how the national language or culture is perceived in a given society. The case of contemporary Japan constitutes an interesting case study in this regard. Three layers of the […]

Read more »
spanish

Loving Latin

Have you ever wondered just how far your language GCSE will get you in the wild? I set out to road-test my dusty Spanish qualification last year by travelling through Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, sometimes alone and sometimes with fellow English speakers, with a short stop-off as a classroom assistant in darkest Peru. My (lack […]

Read more »
sausages

Alles Wurst? German ‘sausage’ idioms

Bierwurst, Blutwurst, Bockwurst, Bratwurst, Currywurst, Feuerwurst, Fleischwurst, Knackwurst, Leberwurst, Mettwurst, Paprikawurst, Rindswurst, Rostbratwurst, Schinkenwurst, Weißwurst, Wienerwurst … Germans are all about diversity when it comes to their beloved ‘Wurst’. Sounds amusing, but it really is a rather serious topic. First, let me tell you a thing or two about the Germans’ famous national treasure. The […]

Read more »
japan

Kotodama: the multi-faced Japanese myth of the spirit of language

In Japan, there is a common myth of the spirit of language called kotodama (言霊, ことだま); a belief that some divine power resides in the Japanese language. This belief originates in ancient times as part of Shintoist ritual but the idea has survived through Japanese history and the term kotodama is still frequently mentioned in […]

Read more »

Tweets