I came across an interesting false friend recently, when a student referred to a person as genial. Now, this might seem fine to me, but is was clear from the context that a word like brilliant would have been more appropriate. How can we explain this seemingly strange error, confusing two such obviously different words? Continue reading
Not a word you come across every day, this one.
If you’re understandably unfamiliar with it, it’s a term for a building reserved for the quarantine of lepers or poor people with other diseases. I was reminded of it while writing earlier about the word quarantine and its Venetian origins. Continue reading
Do Ti La Sol Fa Mi Re Do!
Beautifully done! (and yes, it is Sol, not So!)
Even if you haven’t seen The Sound of Music, you’re probably quite familiar with this little method of assigning syllables to the seven major musical notes.
It’s known as solfège, and is used to help a musician distinguish between different pitches of notes. It’s not something I’d ever given much thought about until one day, likely while I was living in Belgium, I saw The Sound of Music dubbed into French… Continue reading
You might know the song “Yankee Doodle,” even if you’re not American. One line might sound a little strange to you:
Stuck a feather in his cap, and called it macaroni.
Why macaroni? Continue reading