Lopping sweaters

A spoonerism is an error in speech. In a spoonerism, the speaker swaps the initial consonant of one word with the initial consonant of another word.   Spoonerisms take their name from an Oxford academic, Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930). Perhaps the best known spoonerism is one often attributed to Spooner himself, though possibly apocryphally.…… Continue reading Lopping sweaters

Language sketch: Maori (1)—sounds

Maori is the language of the Māori people of New Zealand. It is known in Maori as te reo Māori (‘the language Maori’) or simply te reo (‘the language’) for short. Te reo Māori was made an official language in New Zealand in 1987, along with New Zealand Sign Language. There is a useful short…… Continue reading Language sketch: Maori (1)—sounds

Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

An exhibition at the British Museum recounts how Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was first deciphered in the first 2 decades of the 19th century, using the Rosetta Stone and other inscriptions and texts.  Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt is on until 19 February. https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/hieroglyphs-unlocking-ancient-egypt       The rest of this post covers: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and…… Continue reading Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

Digitising materials in the Indian language Oda

Here is a link to a documentary on a project to digitise 200 years of magazines, newspapers and books published in the Indian language Odia https://www.endangeredalphabets.com/2022/11/16/the-volunteer-odia-archivists/ The author of that page describes Oda has having a ‘delightful bald-headed script’. Odia was the 6th language to become designated as an official language in India https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/odia-a-classical-language-in-india/ 

Nice one, Cyril

Several Slavonic languages—Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian—are written in the Cyrillic alphabet. That alphabet is also used for several other languages, for example in central Asia. The name Cyrillic honours the memory of St Cyril. Who was Cyril? St Cyril was born in Thessalonica (nowadays in Greece) in 826 CE, being given the…… Continue reading Nice one, Cyril

Too much of a good thing? Ask Hirokazu Tanaka

The largest gathering of people with the same first and last name occurred in Tokyo on 29 October 2022. Present were 178 people called Hirokazu Tanaka. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-same-first-and-last-name-gathering According to the Japan Times, the previous record was set in 2005 by American business person Martha Stewart and 163 other people of that name. The Japan Times…… Continue reading Too much of a good thing? Ask Hirokazu Tanaka

Earliest known alphabetic script

A recently discovered inscription on an ivory comb is the earliest known example of alphabetic writing. The comb was found in Lachish (Israel) and bears an inscription in an early Canaanite script. The 17 letters, in early pictographic style, form seven words expressing a plea against lice. A report on this find is in A…… Continue reading Earliest known alphabetic script

Hangul Day

Today (9 October) is Hangul Day. Hangul is the name used in South Korea and most of the world for the writing system used in writing Korean.   Origin of Hangul Before the 15th century, most written documents in Korea were in Chinese. When Korean was written, people used Chinese characters, known in Korean as…… Continue reading Hangul Day

Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

The surname of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Михаил Горбачёв) was occasionally spelled Gorbachov in English, especially early in his leadership. It is a pity that this spelling didn’t persist. The spelling with <o> would show English speakers more clearly how to pronounce this name. Cyrillic spelling Gorbachev’s surname is spelled Горбачeв in the Russian…… Continue reading Gorbachev or Gorbachov?