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

Tag: other languages

Sheet Music

Foreign words and musical notes

Anyone who’s ever had to learn to read sheet music will know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes literally be like learning another language. Besides parsing those tricky lines, dots, tails, and bars, there are also the snatches of foreign languages – mostly Italian, along with the occasional word of French, […]

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american flag

America’s war on language

2014 marks the centennial of World War I, time to take a closer look at one of its offshoots, America’s little-known War on Language. In April, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. In addition to sending troops to fight in Europe, Americans waged war on the language of the enemy at home. German was […]

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colours

Colourful language: colours in international idioms

Although we have a plethora of words in our vocabularies to describe colour, it’s unlikely that we each perceive colour in the same way. What if your red is actually my blue, or my yellow is your green? We may never know if a Parisian’s rouge is identical to a Varsovian’s czerwony, but we can […]

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Is Arabic really a single language?

Is Arabic really a single language?

All language-learners face the difficulties of regional variations or dialects. Usually, it takes the form of an odd word or turn of phrase or a peculiar pronunciation. For most languages, incomprehension is only momentary, and the similarity – what linguists often refer to as the mutual intelligibility – between the standard language taught to foreigners […]

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Are you thinking of learning Arabic

Which Arabic should you learn?

If you have ever tried learning Arabic, you’ll know it is not an easy language to master. One of the first decisions learners are faced with is which type of Arabic to learn – the dizzying choice can give you flexibility, or confusion! Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or fuṣḥā is said to be the common […]

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chess

The language of chess

Although the game itself may be viewed as the domain of grandmasters, child geniuses, and computer boffins, the language of chess has infiltrated everyday parlance in a number of ways. Any game or debate that ends in a draw may be said to have resulted in a stalemate, while check can refer to any form of […]

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arabic

Fun with words or why I love Arabic

‘Somebody once said that every Arabic word means itself, its opposite or a camel.’  The professor I was trying to impress threw cold water on this vision of the language I had chosen to study: ‘Very funny, but not true’. Sigh. I owed the quote to Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Arabist and travel-writer known as the sage […]

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language identity

Does learning a second language lead to a new identity?

Every day I get asked why second language learning is so hard and what can be done to make it easier. One day a student came up to me after class and asked me how his mother could learn to speak English better. She did not seem to be able to break through and start […]

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