The Almost Romance Languages

Reading time: 15-20 minutes If you like languages, you’ve probably heard the terms Romance and the Romance family. Although it started life as a name for the language of medieval France, Romance has come to be the umbrella term for a big group of modern tongues, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian and Romanian. TheContinue reading “The Almost Romance Languages”

Journeying into gender with Words for Granted!

Hot on the heels on my previous podcast appearance, I joined Ray from the popular and long-running etymology podcast Words for Granted to talk about grammatical gender – what it is, why it exists, where it comes from and how English managed to completely lose it! You can listen to the episode in full here:Continue reading “Journeying into gender with Words for Granted!”

Talking etymology with the Lexis linguists!

Just a quick newsflash from me: Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of talking to Dan, Lisa and Jill, three of the team behind Lexis, a podcast about language and linguistics that’s primarily aimed at A-Level teachers and students, although its great content is accessible to all. We talked about etymology – whatContinue reading “Talking etymology with the Lexis linguists!”

Holy Linguists! Part II: Cyril and Methodius, Ælfric of Eynsham, Hildegard of Bingen

Reading time: 15-20 minutes So, continuing on a theme that nobody asked for but I love, here is the second part of my Holy Linguists! series of blog posts. Part I looked at three holy heavyweights from the Mediterranean world in the late antique era: Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome and Augustine. This month’s blog postContinue reading “Holy Linguists! Part II: Cyril and Methodius, Ælfric of Eynsham, Hildegard of Bingen”

Five Sound Changes That Make Italian Make More Sense

Reading time: 10-15 minutes As I write, it’s the 15th of September, and I have just, with a heavy heart, departed Italy. What a time, and what a place! Among its many delights, it was a particular pleasure to be reminded of how much I love the Italian language. I love to hear it, toContinue reading “Five Sound Changes That Make Italian Make More Sense”

Getting to Grips with Greek – Part I: Achieving the Alphabet

Reading time: 10 minutes Since antiquity, the Ancient Greek language has held a certain prestige that extends far beyond its autochthonous corner of the Mediterranean. Its influence has been multi-faceted; Greek vocabulary today turns up in so many different spheres of so many different languages, such as in terminology for medicine, for chemistry, for engineering,Continue reading “Getting to Grips with Greek – Part I: Achieving the Alphabet”

Holy Linguists! Part I: Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome and Augustine

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes Surprising as it may be, I do actually have other interests besides linguistics. Perhaps the intellectual pursuit that holds second place in my affection (and obsession) is the study of religion and everything that that word encompasses – all the faith, the emotion, the theology and philosophy, the art,Continue reading “Holy Linguists! Part I: Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome and Augustine”

An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!

Reading time: 20-25 minutes Among language lovers and loathers alike, it’s well known that the modern lexicon of English is drawn from different sources. While a solid chunk of English vocabulary has a Germanic origin, much also comes from French, in a large part due to Duke William of Normandy and some battle that happenedContinue reading “An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!”

A Thank-You Letter to Twitter Linguistics

Reading time: 15 minutes If, like me, you consider yourself a very online person, yet are surrounded in your daily life by offline people, it can be enormously enjoyable and perhaps even cathartic when you get the chance to meet similarly online people and have a good gossip about it all. Recently, as Covid restrictionsContinue reading “A Thank-You Letter to Twitter Linguistics”

A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes Whether or not you’re a believer, it’s undeniable that the idea of the divine has had a big influence on human history. Connecting our lives and our earthly home to higher realms and to those realms’ inhabitants, the gods, is an ancient preoccupation, which is often reflected in ourContinue reading “A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words”