Odia, a classical language in India

According to a quiz I read recently, the 6th language to be designated in India as a ‘classical language’ is Odia. I had never heard of Odia, so I wanted to find out more. The Language Odia belongs, with Bengali and Assamese to the Madaghan sub-family of Indo-Aryan (Klaiman, 1990). Indo-Aryan is itself part of…… Continue reading Odia, a classical language in India

Wordle

A new online craze called Wordle is in the news because of differences between American and British spelling. Players have to guess a 5 letter word. On each go, the player must enter a valid 5 letter word as a guess. The system then tells them how many: correct letters are in the right place.correct…… Continue reading Wordle

‘must not’ in English and German

The English modal verb must and its German counterpart muss are cognates—they share the same origin and similar meanings. But when they are negated, they behave in different ways. English Barbara must not go means that it is required that Barbara does not go.On the other hand, German Barbara muss nicht gehen means that Barbara…… Continue reading ‘must not’ in English and German

New law in Lithuania lets people use foreign letters

The Lithuanian alphabet is based on the Roman alphabet but does not include the letters ‘q’, ‘x’ and ‘w’. As a result, using those letters in the official spelling of people’s names in Lithuania has not been possible. However, that has now changed. On 26 January 2020, the President of Lithuania signed a new law…… Continue reading New law in Lithuania lets people use foreign letters

Great English Vowel Shift

Major changes occurred in the English vowel system between about 1400 and about 1750. English spelling began to stabilise before most of those changes took place. As a result, English spelling does not match well with current pronunciation, as many native and non-native learners have discovered to their cost. This post summarises one group of…… Continue reading Great English Vowel Shift

Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

I have just read a paper describing 16 differences between Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. The description was in a paper that looked for the border between language varieties separated by each difference. The paper also looked at whether those borders match national borders and how close the varieties are to each other. The authors…… Continue reading Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

Only eadsets

Italian phonetic spelling of headset. The ‘eadset in question was in the City Train sightseeing train bus, Sorrento (2012)

Ginkgo Biloba

I entered my translation of this poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the 2021 Stephen Spender prize. Like all entries for this prize, it includes my commentary on the translation. The word Ginkgo seems to be spelt variously, in both German and English, sometimes as Gingko and sometimes as Ginkgo. Printed copies of Goethe’s…… Continue reading Ginkgo Biloba

Bulgarian through Russian

Reading Bulgarian through Russian, by Charles E Gribble (1987) is a concise textbook that aims to teach people with a good knowledge of Russian to read normal contemporary literary Bulgarian. (I haven’t seen the 2nd edition, published in 2013.) An early section of Gribble’s book lists some systematic correspondences of sounds and spellings between the…… Continue reading Bulgarian through Russian