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

Category: Other languages

pasta

Butterflies and worms: a linguistic look at pasta for World Pasta Day

Did you know that pasta had its own day? No? Well, 25 October 2014 is World Pasta Day. We’ve taken the opportunity to look at a selection of words for different types of pasta. Unsurprisingly, many of the words are simply the Italian for the shape in which the pasta comes, but they may well […]

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colours

Colourful language: colours in international idioms

Although we have a plethora of words in our vocabularies to describe colour, it’s unlikely that we each perceive colour in the same way. What if your red is actually my blue, or my yellow is your green? We may never know if a Parisian’s rouge is identical to a Varsovian’s czerwony, but we can […]

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Is Arabic really a single language?

Is Arabic really a single language?

All language-learners face the difficulties of regional variations or dialects. Usually, it takes the form of an odd word or turn of phrase or a peculiar pronunciation. For most languages, incomprehension is only momentary, and the similarity – what linguists often refer to as the mutual intelligibility – between the standard language taught to foreigners […]

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Are you thinking of learning Arabic

Which Arabic should you learn?

If you have ever tried learning Arabic, you’ll know it is not an easy language to master. One of the first decisions learners are faced with is which type of Arabic to learn – the dizzying choice can give you flexibility, or confusion! Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or fuṣḥā is said to be the common […]

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Which everyday English words came from Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary, we’re taking a look at English words of Arabic origin. Using the infographic below, find out which everyday English words came from Arabic, and track how they occur in other languages… Oxford Dictionaries | Arabic is a groundbreaking new online dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic and English based […]

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Why learn Arabic?

Why learn Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary (in print and online), the Chief Editor, Tressy Arts, explains why she decided to become an Arabist… When I tell people I’m an Arabist, they often look at me like they’re waiting for the punchline. Some confuse it with aerobics and look at me dubiously […]

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arabic

Fun with words or why I love Arabic

‘Somebody once said that every Arabic word means itself, its opposite or a camel.’  The professor I was trying to impress threw cold water on this vision of the language I had chosen to study: ‘Very funny, but not true’. Sigh. I owed the quote to Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Arabist and travel-writer known as the sage […]

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language identity

Does learning a second language lead to a new identity?

Every day I get asked why second language learning is so hard and what can be done to make it easier. One day a student came up to me after class and asked me how his mother could learn to speak English better. She did not seem to be able to break through and start […]

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