Category: Other languages

English words of French origins, and how to pronounce them correctly

English words of French origin and how to pronounce them

On 14 July 1789, the storming of the Bastille prison in the centre of Paris marked the beginning of the French Revolution. It was a major watershed in the history of Europe and is today still celebrated as a public holiday in France. The event gave the country a national motto as well: liberté, égalité, […]

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George R. R. Martin’s invented language in A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin’s invented language in A Game of Thrones

This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. This blog has hosted several pieces relating to the fantasy series Game of Thrones, including a guest post by the brilliant David Peterson, who created the fictional languages that appear on the television show. However, the blog has not yet discussed the invented words […]

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What do they call French toast in France?

What do they call French toast in France? (And other similar questions)

In English, many things are named after a particular country – but have you ever wondered what those things are called in those countries? Some things remain the same (Russians say Russian roulette, or rather русская рулетка, for instance) but plenty don’t. From French toast and Turkish delight to Brazil nuts and English breakfast – […]

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Funny food: translating Europe’s unusual food names

Funny food: translating Europe’s unusual food names

As well as its (unfair) reputation for being bland and stodgy, British cuisine is well known for its confusingly and often humorously-named dishes. Tourists are most likely to have heard of pub classics like toad-in-the-hole, a dish of sausages baked in batter, and schoolchildren never tire of tittering at ‘spotted dick’, a suet pudding containing […]

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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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