Category: Other languages

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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German Compound Words

Words with a perspective: German compound words

A few years ago, it was reported that German had ‘lost’ its longest word – the 63-letter monstrosity Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungs- aufgabenübertragungsgesetz. The cause of this ‘loss’ was a law change in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: in 2013, the ‘beef labelling supervision duties delegation law’, as is the term’s literal English translation, was officially repealed, thus rendering its name […]

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thank you

How to say ‘thank you’ in 28 languages

Thanksgiving may often be seen as a thoroughly American affair, but variations of this celebration exist in other parts of the world as well. So, to honour the international character of the harvest festival, why not take out a few minutes in between stuffing your face with turkey and sweet potatoes to learn how to […]

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flags

What will be 2015’s most popular language?

Everyone seems to have a favourite language, for one reason or another. However, it is impossible to have hard data on this matter since this preference is very subjective. Bab.la is a sister site to OxfordDictionaries.com, and the bab.la Language World Cup was launched in 2013 to find out which are the favourite languages of […]

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pregnancy test

Pregnancy metaphors from around the world

Pregnant was something of a metaphor when it first started being used in relation to a baby. Its earlier meaning (which is still in use) was ‘full of meaning, highly significant’, and the word pregnant began being used as a synonym for the more self-explanatory term with child. There are plenty of historical synonyms for […]

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food

12 food idioms in other languages

Because there are so many food-related idioms in other languages, coming up with this list was a piece of cake for us – or a ‘bread roll with butter’ as the Polish would say. If these examples aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you can add your mustard in the comment section below. 1. Mind your own […]

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