Tag: German


Weather idioms: winds and storms

We recently took a look at idioms from around the world that use rain as a metaphor; today we turn our attention to those from German, Chinese, Russian, and more, that use winds and storms to get their point across. 1. In den Wind schreiben Language: German Translation: To write in the wind What does it […]

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Carefully constructed: the language of Franz Kafka

A few months ago I took part in a discussion of Kafka on Melvyn Bragg’s radio programme In Our Time. One of the other participants asserted that Kafka’s style describes horrific events in the emotionally deadpan tone of a bureaucrat report. This struck me immediately as wrong in lots of ways. I didn’t disagree, because […]

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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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flower bouquet

Say it with flowers: floral expressions and phrases

With the opening of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, visitors from all over the world will once again flock to London in their thousands to keep up with the latest gardening trends and enjoy the vibrant colours of the flowers on display. But besides their obvious visual attraction, flowers can also be of particular […]

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Branching out: tree idioms and phrases

Many countries around the world have days on which citizens, companies, and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. These are usually observed in spring – which, of course, is at different times of year depending upon hemisphere – and the last Friday of April is National Arbor Day in the US. The […]

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beer types

How well do you know the language of beer?

Do you distinguish between beers and lagers? Do you know your Weißbier from your Schwartzbier? If you think that you’ve got a fair grasp on the language of beer (or bier), then try out our quiz and see how you do!

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petri dish_large

10 inventions named after people

Inventors’ Day is celebrated on different days in many countries to recognize the contributions of inventors. In the US, the event falls on 11 February – the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth. We would like to take this occasion to explore the linguistic contributions of inventors to the English language. Browse our list below to […]

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