The Cat’s Pyjamas


Did you know that Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem, and praised the creatures for tasks such as killing venomous snakes and protecting the Pharaoh? It seems that cats have never forgotten this high regard, given the stereotype of cats being haughty and contrary with their affection. I’ve never found this with [more…]

10 Japanese words we use in English

What is Japan famous for? Quite a lot of things actually. From iconic landscapes like Mount Fuji and beautiful cherry blossoms to traditional tea ceremonies, pod hotels and bullet trains, there’s an amazing variety of exotic attractions people think of when you mention Japan.

But you may not have thought many Japanese words have crept [more…]

Esperanto, the Universal Language


Imagine growing up in a village where four separate groups of people speak only their own language, so that they cannot communicate with each other. That was the early life of L L Zamenhof, a Polish Jew who lived in what is now Bialystok, Poland. When he was born in 1859, it was under [more…]

Solstice and other pre-Christian festivals

Many of the ancient pre-Christian celebrations were hijacked when Christianity arrived, and adapted – or toned down. Some of them have been forgotten altogether. We take a look at the history of some of the well-known festivals.

Candlemas on 2nd February was known as the festival of light in pre-Christian times. It marked the mid-point [more…]

Why is it called ‘coronavirus’?


We’re living in strange times now, times we have never known before. Distancing ourselves from our loved ones is very hard, being unable to work, or go shopping. However, it won’t be forever, and we may appreciate our freedom all the more when this is over. Being a word nerd, I’ve noticed the new [more…]

10 fascinating words in Japanese

The English vocabulary is famous for having so many descriptive terms, but every language has words that are hard to translate into English and yet would be an interesting addition.

The Japanese language reflects the way Japanese people have a great respect for nature and the changing seasons.

Komorebi means ‘the sunlight that filters through [more…]

Genders in Language

We are lucky that our English language is grammatically gender-free. About a quarter of the world’s languages use grammatical gender, which means it’s a lot harder to learn a language where you must remember which gender each noun is. Some of the languages that use this system are German, French, Spanish, Italian and Gaelic. [more…]

The most common word in the world

I read recently that the most common word in the English-speaking world is no, with okay as a runner-up. But what about the most commonly used word in the world – English-speaking or not?

Words such as radio, bank, café, chocolate and beer are understood in many countries even though they may have their own [more…]

How do you pronounce?

Data rhymes with…
The overwhelming majority of you pronounce data as though it rhymes with garter (darta), as opposed to rhyming with Alligator (dayta). Interestingly, the UK see our pronunciation of this as somewhat of an oddity. One we no doubt find pleasure in, as the ‘data’ seems to show ?

Forehead is pronounced…
Phew, this was [more…]