Words showing their history

Some Japanese words are compounds of a verb and a noun. The noun is typically one that undergoes the action denoted by verb—the object of a transitive verb or the ‘patient’ of an intransitive verb. Japanese components Some of these compounds have native Japanese components elements. In these cases the compound contains the noun followed…… Continue reading Words showing their history

New words of 1986

I recently came across Longman Guardian New Words, by Simon Mort (1986). It gives a fascinating interesting snapshot of words that entered mainstream British English in 1986. The author says the book has 3 aims: to entertainto provide a convenient reference package of the patterns, logic and fashion of word formation of 1986to be a…… Continue reading New words of 1986

The chaos of English spelling

English spelling is notoriously inconsistent. A Dutch writer, Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946) wrote a poem The Chaos highlighting some of the irregularities and inconsistencies. The first version appeared in 1920 in his textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen. The author also wrote a linguistic column for an Amsterdam weekly paper from 1909 to 1946…… Continue reading The chaos of English spelling

Unappetising dishes in Liguria

Didn’t fancy eating a Ligurian, not even fish baked. Somehow the verdure sound less healthy in English. Also, not sure why they are fried in English but rustic in Italian. Pictures taken in 2013 (in Liguria, of course)

How many sounds are there in English?

How many sounds are there in English? It all depends on what you mean by English and what you mean by sounds. In this post, I will talk about the sounds of standard southern British English, generally known as Received Pronunciation. Phonemes The only feasible way to analyse the set of sounds used in a…… Continue reading How many sounds are there in English?

Say “nein” to Anglo-saxon punctuation!

Seen on the way from Basel airport on 3 October 2013: “Alle Pizza’s werden geliefert.” English grocers are notorious for serving apostrophes with everything. But now the malady has spread to a language that doesn’t even have apostrophes. (German does use the apostrophe to show that a letter or sound has been omitted.)

A Mandarin tongue twister

The following tongue twister in Mandarin contains 8 instances of the syllable ma, differentiated only by the tone they bear, as well as one similar syllable (man). Māma qí mǎ. Mǎ màn. Māma mà mǎ.Mother rides horse. Horse slow. Mother scolds horse. The above example is written in pinyin, the official transliteration system for Mandarin.…… Continue reading A Mandarin tongue twister

Basque or Slovene?

A surprising statement on the back of Colloquial Basque. “By the end of this rewarding course you will be able to communicate confidently and effectively in Slovene in a broad range of everyday situations. “