X. It marks the spot. It means ten, or a kiss. It stands for an unknown or variable quantity, or a mysterious person. It crosses out something we don’t want, or, as on a ballot, it indicates something that we do. X is used to denote a generation, an adult rating, a special talent, a […]
It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]
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 […]
Ever found yourself trying to describe that tingling sensation when a song or work of art is deeply moving? There’s a word for that in Spanish. That sense of annoyance when you walk away from an argument and immediately realize the perfect retort? There’s one for that too, in French! We’ve put together a few […]
English is a language rich with weather idioms – right as rain, every cloud has a silver lining, and many others – but other languages obviously have their own special takes on phrases and proverbs relating to the weather. In this post, we take a look at idioms in other languages that deal with the sun, snow, sea, and sky.
While Caroline James has already challenged the belief that there’s anything like an untranslatable word, we nonetheless felt inspired to explore the lexicon of foreign languages in search of interesting words that don’t have an exact equivalent in English. Such an endeavour can often yield amusing results, but also give insight into the peculiarities of […]
Building a bridge between two languages is a very demanding undertaking, and ‘false friends’ make it harder still. False friends are more commonly known as ‘false cognates’, or words that are similar or identical in both languages but which convey a different meaning. They give us a false sense of security before leading us astray. […]
Word of the Day: astylar - (of a classical building) lacking columns or pilasters... ow.ly/2hdR502U4PK