Sunday, July 31, 2016

Names in Seven Languages

Many names are used around the world. They tend to be similar in every language. Here is a list of common names in seven languages:

English: David, Frances, George, James, John, Laura, Mark, Mary, Paul, Peter 
Dutch: David, Francisca, George, Jakob, Jan, Laura, Mark, Maria, Paul, Pieter
German: David, Franziska, Georg, Jakob, Johann, Laura, Markus, Maria, Paul, Peter
French: David, Françoise, Georges, Jacques, Jean, Laure, Marc, Marie, Paul, Pierre
Italian: Davide, Francesca, Giorgio, Giacomo, Giovanni, Laura, Marco, Maria, Paolo, Pietro
Spanish: David, Francisca, Jorge, Jaime, Juan, Laura, Marcos, Maria, Pablo, Pedro
Portuguese: David, Francisca, Jorge, Jaime, JoãoLaura, Marcos, Maria, Paulo, Pedro

These names are similar in the languages listed here. The names John, Paul and Peter have different forms in many languages. David, Mark, Laura and Mary vary far less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Irregular Nationality Adjectives

Many nationality adjectives in English are formed with the same suffixes. We see the same suffixes in Bolivian, Colombian, Russian, Venezuelan and in Bahraini, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Pakistani and Yemeni. However, English also has a number of irregular nationality adjectives. Here is a list:

Congo Congolese
Ivory Coast Ivorian
Kiribati I-Kiribati
Madagascar Malagasy
Niger Nigerien
San Marino San Marinese
Thailand Thai
Togo Togolese
Turkmenistan Turkmen
United Arab Emirates Emirati

The nationality adjective of Kiribati is I-Kiribati. This is the most irregular nationality adjective in English. Congolese and Togolese are not so irregular, but they have an l before the suffix -ese. In Turkmen and Thai, we see nationality adjectives that are shorter than the names of the respective countries. This short list illustrates a few irregular nationality adjectives in English.

Monday, July 25, 2016

War and Peace

War and Peace, a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, is considered one of the most important novels of world literature. It describes the French invasion of Russia and its impact on Russian society. This is told through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families. In many ways War and Peace is not a novel but rather a philosophical discussion. The last section of the novel is in fact an essay.

Important characters of the novel are Pierre Bezukhov, Helen Kuragin, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Princess Maria Bolkonskaya, Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Nikolai Rostov. Pierre Bezukhov is the central character of the novel. He is the illegitimate son of Count Kirill Bezukhov. Educated abroad, Pierre returns to Russia and finds himself in a society that doesn't suit him. However, his inheritance of a large fortune changes his life.

Helen Kuragin marries Pierre Bezukhov after he is legitimized as the heir to his father's title and fortune. At first Pierre is happy to be married to such a beautiful woman, but later realizes she is only with him for social and financial advantage.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is a strong but conflicted military leader. His first wife dies and he later becomes engaged to Countess Natasha Rostova.

Princess Maria Bolkonskaya is the sister of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. She is a pious woman with a very kind heart, but her father makes her life difficult.

Countess Natasha Rostova is a young and romantic girl. She is a very accomplished singer and dancer.

Count Nikolai Rostov, the brother of Countess Natasha Rostova, is the eldest son of the Rostov family. He later marries Princess Maria Bolkonskaya.

Napoleon is also an important character of the novel. Leo Tolstoy portrays the French leader as arrogant and overconfident in his invasion of Russia. The Russian General Kutuzov is a wise and patient military tactician who manages to defeat Europe's largest army.

War and Peace questions ideas of fate and free will. It is a historical novel which presents Leo Tolstoy's complex theory of history. In his view, historians do not tell the whole truth but their own version coloured by prejudices and interpretations. War and Peace is an account of Napoleon's war with Russia from the Russian perspective. Leo Tolstoy tells us that history is never simple but rather a network of connected events influenced by previous ones. The realistic descriptions of war, the interactions of the aristocratic families, and the complex ideas explored by Leo Tolstoy truly make War and Peace an outstanding novel.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Apricot Compote

Apricot compote is a very tasty and simple dish to prepare. Here is a recipe:

10 apricots halved with pits removed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water

Place the apricots in a saucepan and add the water, sugar and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve hot or cold.

Apricot compote is very popular in Germany and is often served with plain yoghurt and also with whipped cream.

Friday, July 22, 2016

English t and German z

English and German are both Germanic languages. They have a common ancestral language, Proto-Germanic. As a result, it's not surprising that there are many similarities between them. In a number of words an English t corresponds to a German z.

Here are examples of English words with a t and German words with a z:

heart Herz
heat Hitze
salt Salz
ten Zehn
time Zeit
toe Zeh
tongue Zunge
twenty Zwanzig
two Zwei
wheat Weizen

The number of words in which an English t corresponds to a German z indicates that the two languages are related. In Proto-Germanic these words were the same. Historical linguists believe that the German z of these words developed from the t which is still preserved in English.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Difference between e.g. and i.e.

The abbreviations e.g. and i.e. are both from Latin. Though these abbreviations are used for clarification, they aren't the same. Let's look at how these abbreviations function.

The abbreviation e.g. provides an example. Here's an example: He has many hobbies, e.g., chess, tennis, photography and karate. In contrast, the abbreviation i.e. restates an idea more clearly or gives more information. For example, it happened in April, i.e., three months ago.

In certain cases, the use of e.g. and i.e. can change the meaning of the sentence. If we write "The fish are thriving in the new pond, e.g., the new goldfish," we can infer that there are more fish in the pond than just goldfish.

But if we write "The fish are thriving in the new pond, i.e., the new goldfish," we can infer that the only fish in the pond are the new goldfish. The abbreviation clarifies that the fish in the pond are the new goldfish.

Though e.g. and i.e. are both used for clarification, they serve different functions. The abbreviation e.g. provides an example, but i.e. provides more clarification or information. In fact, the abbreviation i.e. can be replaced with in other words. Though the two abbreviations are similar, they aren't identical.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sour Cream Porridge

Sour cream porridge is very popular in Norway. When made with Norwegian sour cream, butter separates from the sour cream when it is boiled. This is an easy dish to prepare. Here is the recipe:

2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt

Boil the sour cream for about 5 minutes. Add half of the flour and stir constantly. Lower the heat and slowly add the rest of the flour and some milk while stirring. Continue to add the rest of the milk and stir. Boil the porridge for five minutes and add salt. Serve with sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sour cream porridge can be served hot or cold.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Revival of Hebrew

The revival of the Hebrew language began at the end of the nineteenth century. Hebrew changed from the sacred language of Judaism to the spoken and written language of Israel. The revival of Hebrew is unique in history. There are no other examples of a natural language with no native speakers acquiring millions of native speakers.

The revival of Hebrew included linguistic additions. It incorporated characteristics from various periods of the Hebrew language and other languages used by Jewish communities around the world. Of these languages, Yiddish was the predominant.

With the rise of Jewish nationalism in nineteenth century Europe, many Jews believed that one of the criteria needed to define a nation was the use of a common language. In the early twentieth century, the Hebrew School Program founded in Palestine created a few hundred fluent Hebrew speakers. This proved that Hebrew could be used on a daily basis.

After World War II, it was clear that Hebrew would become the language of Israel. Though the immigrants to Israel did not speak Hebrew as a mother tongue, their children learned it as a native language. This made it possible to revive Hebrew and make it the official language of Israel. This revival can truly be considered remarkable.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Apple Cake

Apple cake is delicious and easy to make. Here is a Swedish recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
7 tablespoons melted butter
4 apples

Mix the dry ingredients.
Melt the butter and add with the egg to the dry ingredients.
Butter a pan and add the peeled and sliced apples.
Pour the batter over the apples and bake in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for about 35 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this apple cake as much as I do.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mexican Eggs

Mexican eggs are tasty and very easy to prepare. Known as huevos rancheros (farmers' eggs) in Spanish, they're a common addition to Mexican breakfasts. Here is the recipe:

Fry a tortilla until crispy.
Fry an egg.
Put the egg on the tortilla.
Add red or green salsa.

Mexican eggs are often served with refried beans, Mexican rice and guacamole. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Augmentatives are forms of a word which express greater intensity, often in size but also in other attributes. English doesn't make extensive use of augmentatives, but uses them in prefixes. These include super-, grand-, mega- and arch-.

A few augmentatives formed with super- are supermarket, superpower and supersize. With the prefix grand-, we have grandmaster, grandparent and grandmother. The prefix arch- is used to create archrival, archenemy and archangel. Finally, mega- produces megacity, megaproject and megastore.

Compared to many languages, English doesn't use so many augmentatives. In many languages, suffixes are used to create augmentatives, but in English they are produced with prefixes. Augmentatives often convey greater size such as in supermarket but in the case of grandparent, it is greater age.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cream of Carrot

Cream of carrot is delicious and easy to prepare. Here's a French recipe:

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 potato, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cream
chives, chopped

Melt the butter and cook the onion, carrots, potato and garlic for about five minutes.
Add the chicken stock and pepper and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat, cook and puree in a blender.
Return to the pot and add cream and salt.
Heat and serve with chopped chives.

This is truly a great soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Parent Language, Sister Language and Daughter Language

Languages can be classified as parents, sisters and daughters.  Parent languages are languages from which a later language is derived. Sister languages descend from a common ancestral language. They have the same parent language. Daughter languages are descended from another language.

English and German are Germanic languages. Since they are in the same family, they are sister languages. They are daughter languages of Proto-Germanic, the parent language.

Spanish and Portuguese are sister languages of the Romance language family. They are daughter languages of Latin, the parent language.

Czech and Polish are sister languages of the Slavic language family. They are daughter languages of Proto-Slavic, the parent language.

Afrikaans and Dutch are Germanic languages, but Afrikaans is derived from Dutch. Thus Afrikaans is the daughter language of Dutch, the parent language.

Chavacano, a language of the Philippines, is the daughter language of Spanish, the parent language. Cebuano, another Philippine language, is the daughter of Proto-Visayan.

Scots and English are sister languages. They are daughter languages of Old English, the parent language.

Languages can be grouped into different language families. Sister languages share the same ancestral language. This language is the parent language and the sister languages are the daughter languages of the parent language.

Friday, July 8, 2016


My latest poem is Home. Here it is:

My land of birth, my childhood home
You remain through these passing years.
It matters not where I now roam,
You knew all my hopes, dreams and fears.

I lived under your endless sky,
Swam in your sea and breathed your air.
You heard me first speak, laugh and cry.
I learned so much under your care.

Under your countless stars of night,
I dreamt scenes of awe and wonder.
I felt your light winds and warm sunlight,
Your gentle rains and loud thunder.

As time passes with my return,
I feel joy to be here with you.
In my heart my fire will burn,
Love of precious memories old and new.

Though my new home may now be far
And my visits not so frequent,
I will never forget that you are
My faith, hope and love abundant.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sounds of Interjections

Interjections are parts of speech that show emotion. Oh, ouch and wow are examples of common interjections. Many English interjections have sounds that rarely or never occur in other words.

The interjection uh-oh has a glottal stop that occurs between two vowels. This is a relatively unusual sound sequence in English.

In psst, which can be interpreted as here, the entire syllable consists of consonants. This is also the case with shh, which has the meaning of quiet.

The interjection tsk-tsk can also be written as tut-tut. It has a dental click.

In ugh, the final sound is a velar fricative, a sound that is rare in English. The first sound of phew can be a bilabial fricative, also rare in English.

The interjections yeah and uh have vowel sounds that are rarely found in syllable-final position in English. They usually come before a syllable-final consonant.

English interjections have a number of sounds that are rare in English such as velar fricatives and dental clicks. Certain interjections have unusual sound sequences which consist of consonantal syllables and vowels in unusual environments. English interjections have sounds and sound sequences normally not found in other parts of speech.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Coalescence refers to a process in which two particles become one. In linguistics this is used to describe the phonological process which turns two sounds into one. For example, the -ng in sing is pronounced as a single sound.

Though most English speakers pronounce the final two letters of sing as one sound, speakers in certain parts of England pronounce them as two. For example, this is the case for speakers in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. For them coalescence doesn't apply.

For those English speakers who pronounce the -ng of sing as a single sound, this is also true for the -ng in singer. Likewise, for those who pronounce the -ng of sing as two sounds, this is also the case in singer. However, all English speakers pronounce the -ng of finger as two sounds.

For most English speakers, the -ng of finger and singer are pronounced differently. The difference is a subtle one, though, so they may not be aware of it. For speakers who don't have coalescence of the -ng in singer, the words finger and singer have the same -ng sound.

Most English speakers apply coalescence in the pronunciation of words such as sing and singer. The letters -ng represent just one sound. In the English of certain areas of England, though, these letters are pronounced as two separate sounds. For these speakers the words finger and singer rhyme more completely.

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