You Know More Than You Think About: The Wanderer

Last month, I offered the Internet an article about the Old English poem Beowulf and how familiar, despite its antiquity, its language can become with a little linguistic guidance. I’d say the article and the idea behind it were received quite well – so, here we go again, with the same format and another OldContinue reading “You Know More Than You Think About: The Wanderer”

You Know More Than You Think About: Beowulf

As a living soul of the twenty-first century, if you take a glance at the opening lines of Beowulf, the Old English poem, the chances are that you won’t be able to understand it. If anything, you may perhaps recognise its famous first word, hƿæt. This is absolutely fine, I should add; Old English isContinue reading “You Know More Than You Think About: Beowulf”

Grave Language : The Epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio

Tombs can make linguists very happy. In the effort to commemorate and praise the deceased, many places of interment include written text, known as epitaphs (from Greek epí ‘on’ and táphos ‘tomb’). Being inscribed in stone, these samples of language survive very well and can offer a much-appreciated window into an era of a languageContinue reading “Grave Language : The Epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio”

Latin’s Nasal Infix – A How-to Guide

How are painting and picture related English words? Why does Latin vincō ‘I win’ become vīcī in the past tense? How does the same verb give English both convince and conviction? This blog post is about the wonderful world of the nasal infix, a linguistic phenomenon that comes in very handy for people learning Latin.Continue reading “Latin’s Nasal Infix – A How-to Guide”

The Decline and Fall of the Latin Neuter

There are many significant differences between Latin and its linguistic descendants, the Romance languages. One that stands out from the rest is grammatical gender. Latin has three genders for its nouns: masculine, feminine and neuter. However, in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian and all the other many Romance varieties that lack official use and support,Continue reading “The Decline and Fall of the Latin Neuter”

The High German Consonant Shift and How to Use It

If you already know English and are in the process of learning German, you may be struck by how similar words in the two languages can be. It can surprise novices that English sentences like ‘I have two cats and six books‘ or ‘it drinks water‘ are so close to their German counterparts ‘ich habeContinue reading “The High German Consonant Shift and How to Use It”

From English to Greek in Two Rules

English and Ancient Greek are distantly related languages that descend from a common ancestor – this is the only theory capable of explaining their many similarities. Consequently, if you’re trying to learn one and already know the other, you can use these similarities to your advantage. In this piece, I’d like to tell you aboutContinue reading “From English to Greek in Two Rules”

The Un-mouthing of Sounds

This post is a brief introduction to the process of debuccalization, a sound change with the power to dispel confusion in various languages of Europe and beyond. With the help of some concrete examples taken from three languages, this is a concept that I believe might come in rather handy for language learners. As isContinue reading “The Un-mouthing of Sounds”

Re-Reduplication in La-Latin

* In previous posts, I’ve written about the idea of stems and its importance for Latin. Simply put, the stem of a Latin noun, adjective or verb is an intermediate stage between the root (the meaningful part of the word) and the grammatical endings that make the word complete. In the second of the twoContinue reading “Re-Reduplication in La-Latin”