Category: Other languages

Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Swear words, etymology, and the history of English

Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so the French cul), to scatological and sexual verbs (doubtless you can spot what scheissen and ficken […]

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Weather idioms: rain

There are plenty of idioms in English that mention the weather – it is, after all, a British stereotype that we can’t hold a conversation without addressing the weather (and, no, it’s not always raining). That national obsession has influenced expressions like it never rains but it pours (misfortunes tend to arrive all at the […]

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Japanese gendered speech

We’ve all heard that supposedly women are from Venus and men are from Mars but how different are their styles of communication and speech? Linguists propose that women and men speak differently, regardless of which language they speak. These differences are often called gendered speech. Unlike the grammatical genders which can be assigned to nouns, […]

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Isra, Umar, and Yasmin: the meanings behind Arabic names

When asked which category of words to focus on for the May update of the online Arabic dictionary, we quickly decided: names! Let’s add scores of given names to the Arabic-English dictionary. Why, one might ask? After all, the English dictionary doesn’t list every Thomas, Richard, and Harriet as headwords; why do we list all […]

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sao paulo

Studying Portuguese in São Paulo

This post is available in English and Portuguese. Jump to Portuguese translation I never thought I’d stand on the top floor of a building in São Paulo to see buildings extending out in all directions. View of São Paulo from Edifício Copán In fact, I never thought I’d go to São Paulo! But a trip […]

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song map

Map: many songs for the Eurovision Song Contest

On 23 May, the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will be taking place in Vienna, Austria – and celebrating the 60th time the competition has taken place. We’re celebrating by looking at translations of the word song in the languages of each country that is participating in this year’s contest – which includes, for the first […]

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Identity crisis: motherland or fatherland?

In 2015, people across the globe will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In Russia, the grand public holiday that marks the end of this ‘Great Patriotic War’ (Velikaya Otechestvennaya voina/Великая Отечественная война in Russian) is one of the highlights of the calendar year. Victory Day (Den’ Pobedy/День Победы) […]

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translater interpreter

What makes language interpreting different from translation?

The seemingly straightforward question ‘So, what do you do for a living?’ sends professional interpreters into an existential quandary; we struggle how to best answer this polite enquiry. Should we describe ourselves as translators or interpreters? The reason this question poses such a conundrum is that it is never easy to explain to others what […]

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