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

Nachos, burritos, and nationality

Nachos, Burritos, and Nationality

National Nacho Day (November 6 in the U.S.) invites us to consider the nationality question of Mexican food. The question begins with the curious point that some of the most common “Mexican” foods in the United States such as burritos and taco shells are seldom eaten in Mexico. Nachos actually have become popular in recent […]

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Glissandos and glissandon’ts

Glissandos and glissandon’ts

“GLISSANDO. A term unfortunately used by composers anywhere but in Italy to indicate a rapid glide over the notes of a scale on keyboard instruments and the harp, as well as a slur with no definite intervals on strings and on the trombone. Italians do not use it for the simple reason that it is […]

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L’anglais, c’est super cool!

L'anglais, c'est super cool!

English has, for several decades now, been an important language in the world of international business, trade, politics, and law, and consequently, is the most taught language in European schools. Unsurprisingly, English words and phrases have started to see use in other languages, and France is one country that has experienced first-hand the rise of […]

O’zapft is! 18 essential German words and phrases for Oktoberfest

O'zapft is! Gearing up for Oktoberfest

From 22nd of September, millions of people will travel to Munich, like every year, to attend the world’s largest fair. Until the 7th of October, Munich will once again be hosting the Oktoberfest, which boasts a long tradition. It first took place in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese […]

Obrigado! Takk! Di ou mèsi! Celebrating World Gratitude Day across time and language

gratitude map

How many ways can we say ‘thank you’? In English alone, there are plenty. The Oxford English Dictionary first cites the simplest, thanks, in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1598. The OED also treats us to some oldies (gramercy [c. 1330], thank thee [1631], thankee [1824]) and contextualizes some goodies (British colloquialism cheers stumbled out […]

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Invented languages

Document2 - Microsoft Word_2012-09-20_12-00-18

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo ‘a star shines on the hour of our meeting’ This is Frodo the hobbit’s greeting in High Elvish, or Quenya, to the Elf Gildor (The Lord of the Rings, book I, chapter iii)—perhaps the most celebrated utterance in an invented language, and arguably one of the most beautiful, both phonetically and […]

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Who speaks Klingon?

Who speaks Klingon?

US cult TV series Star Trek first aired on September 8, 1966. From the beginning it has attracted an unusually large and engaged fan-base, some of whom have been enthusiastic enough to learn Klingon, one of the fictional languages spoken by some of Star Trek’s characters. In today’s blog post, Michael Adams investigates the demographics […]

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Just Plutonic? Roman gods and their relationship to the days of the week

Just Plutonic? Roman gods and their relationship to the days of the week

When I was a kid. . . Yeah, you know where I’m going with this one. Pluto was a planet. Discovered in 1930, Pluto enjoyed renown as the 9th planet in our solar system for 76 years, until in 2006 the International Astronomical Union declared it to be a dwarf planet. Poor Pluto: the last […]

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