You may know the feeling: you’re on holiday and you’ve been walking around sightseeing all day. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and need to stop to eat. So, you pop into a little restaurant, and you feel satisfied and re-energised. Restored. And it’s no surprise really, because that’s what a restaurant’s for. Continue reading
I’m sorry, I can’t resist a classic bad joke. But have you ever wondered why the past simple and past participle forms of the verb to read look identical to the present form, but sound different (“red”)? Continue reading
Une bière, s’il vous plait.
Una birra, per favore.
It’s something we might think about before going on holiday: oh, I should learn a few phrases of the local language before I go! And sometimes we do just that: maybe get a phrasebook, or peruse the little section on useful phrases in the Lonely Planet guide a few times. Or we do a quick Google the night before or at the airport because we’d completely forgotten about it until then.
And then we arrive and there a few variations on what happens: either we forget about what we’ve learned, and rely on English and hand gestures; we think about using a few phrases but are terrified and rely on English and hand gestures; or, we use a few phrases here and there. And that can go a couple of different ways. Sometimes ending in English and hand gestures. Continue reading
It can be a bit of a drag having a fairly uncommon name, sometimes. Not that I’ve ever wanted to change my name, or generally been unhappy with it, but it sometimes feels like it’d be nice to have a name that people understand straight away, and can’t later mispronounce. It’s ok in Ireland because even if it’s not the most common name, it’s still known by everybody. Even for English speakers from other countries, it’s not too difficult, as it’s a pretty simple sound common in English. Like smile, or while, or of course, Nile. Continue reading
Have you ever had those moments when you realise the etymology of a word you’d never thought about before? I had a good one recently, while visiting Fort-la-Latte in Brittany. Outside the main gate, there was a replica medieval battering ram, with the tip in the shape of a ram’s head (a ram being a male sheep). As soon as I saw it, the lightbulb went off: ram! Continue reading
Yesterday I used this idiom in my post, and then got wondering about it’s origin. Why would this phrase come to mean a completely different situation, and more importantly, who would put fish in a kettle in the first place? Continue reading
Yesterday, I wrote about why Great Britain is so-called, but if the Great is to distinguish it from Brittany, why not use a word more clearly related to size, like Big or Large? Why use Great when so many people assume it’s meaning in the name is to indicate how wonderful Britain is? Continue reading