Of Mouses and Mans? — The Origins of English’s Vowel-Swapping Nouns and Verbs

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes In present-day English, the plural of mouse is usually mice, and one man plus another equals two men. While most English nouns are made plural simply by adding -s, turning one cat into multiple cats, there is a sizeable minority that become plural through the process we see withContinue reading “Of Mouses and Mans? — The Origins of English’s Vowel-Swapping Nouns and Verbs”

*ABA – The Goodest Language Universal

Reading time: 5 – 10 minutes For this month’s blog post, what I’d like to offer is a brief piece about a fascinating universal property of languages, which you may well have never noticed! This apparent language universal is all to do with adjectives, and the way they are built as words. In English, theContinue reading “*ABA – The Goodest Language Universal”

Cheat Your Way to Czech II: Learning (and Loving) the Lexicon

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes For many people, myself definitely included, the most difficult part of learning a new language is the vocabulary. There’s just always so much of it and, unlike grammar, I find it hard to condense down into learnable bites. The world is full of things, so language is full ofContinue reading “Cheat Your Way to Czech II: Learning (and Loving) the Lexicon”

Rockin’ Around Etymology

Reading time: 10 minutes Ho ho ho! A joyful Yuletide to you, language lover! Now here’s something new for the blog: my offering for this December and for Christmas 2021 is an etymological round — a journey of linguistic connections that begins and starts with the same word. This is not my original idea, IContinue reading “Rockin’ Around Etymology”

Cheat Your Way to Czech: Czech Sounds and I

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes Introduction to the Series Now the Czech language may have a reputation for difficulty, but it isn’t entirely fair. Like in any language, things in Czech exist for a good reason, even though that reason may not be very obvious. There is actually very little in the language thatContinue reading “Cheat Your Way to Czech: Czech Sounds and I”

Latin: Language, Society and Some Sociolinguistics

Reading time: 10-15 minutes A language is never monolithic! Although brief labels are useful for conversation, to say ‘I speak English’ is a complicated thing; its meaning is dependent on person, time and place. The language you use differs according to who you are and who you learned your language from, and who you areContinue reading “Latin: Language, Society and Some Sociolinguistics”

Grave Language: The Epitaph of Pope Gregory V

There have been great popes in the history of the papacy, men who have influenced countless people, both during and after their lives, with their words, deeds and faith. Gregory V was not one of them. Born in c. 972 in what is now southern Austria, Bruno of Carinthia was well connected from birth. HeContinue reading “Grave Language: The Epitaph of Pope Gregory V”

As Julius Caesar said, “Wehnee, weedee, weekee!”

Or: Why do I pronounce Latin words like that? A question came up recently in the middle of an enjoyably linguistic conversation, concerned with the way I personally pronounce Latin words. The question was essentially ‘why?’ My interlocutor, a friend with only a little Latin learning, was curious about how I pronounce certain letters. WhatContinue reading “As Julius Caesar said, “Wehnee, weedee, weekee!””

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”