Archive for Languages

Learning Spanish terms via etymology and cognates

As I’ve been slowly learning Spanish via Duolingo, I’ve found the large number of cognates between Spanish and English very useful. Sometimes, false cognates get in the way; the most common example I see of that is the word embarazada, which English monoglots may assume means “embarrassed,” but which instead means “pregnant.” But setting aside […]

Alicia Vikander on Swedish slang

From Vanity Fair: “Alicia Vikander Teaches You Swedish Slang,” a 4-minute video. I initially assumed this was a straight-faced joke, with Vikander (the Swedish actress who’s playing Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider movie) making stuff up; but no, apparently these are real Swedish slang phrases. Though some commenters suggest that some of her […]

Ming dynasty rebus

The Asian Art Museum’s online collection includes a dish labeled as Foliated dish with bird, deer, wasps, and monkey, from the Ming dynasty (specifically the period corresponding to 1567-1572). The images on the plate turn out to be a rebus. (See also column YY.) The images include, among other elements, a bird, a deer, some […]

On reviving dormant languages

Lovely, long, fascinating, thought-provoking article about languages going dormant/extinct, and languages being revived, and colonialism, and more, from a Marxist or at least Leftist perspective: “Salvaging the Dormant: On Language,” by Sarah Grey. Includes discussion of updating languages for modern use; of appropriate terminology around the death or dormancy of languages; of forcing Native American […]