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Month: January 2016

A song about Pompeii in Latin

Pompeii was a town destroyed by a volcano called Vesuvius. The very word volcano comes from the Roman god of fire Vulcan. Pompeii is a very interesting town from a language point of view because when it was uncovered, graffiti was found talking about the contemporary society and was a great insight into what life was like in that town at the time.

Latin Alphabet

When you grow up with a writing system you think it has always been like that. And the Latin script has been the same for a very long time, but there have been some additions over the centuries. One that is very noticable if you read old Latin texts is the lack of the letter J.

I was used for both the “i” sound and the “j” sound. Over time people started putting a little down stroke on the i to show that the consonant version of i was meant, and it eventually became its own letter. Find the story about the other additions to the Latin script in the video on this post.

Verbs of motion

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Verbs of motion are words used to describe how something moves. In English we use prepositions for this, e.g. I go by car, by foot, by plane. But in other languages, such as Russian, they use special verbs, called verbs of motion, to explain how the movement happens. Russian has 14 verbs of motion! This can take quite a while to learn, but it is really awesome that there is this kind of variation in world languages.

The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font – Quartz

The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font – Quartz

The story of Chinese characters begins with, of all things, turtle bellies. The kings of the Shang Dynasty—which ruled from the 16th to the 11th centuries BC—had questions. Questions about what the king should do, like whether to “perform a ritual for Father Ding and offer to him thirty captives from the Qiang nomad tribe…


Wow! I never thought of all the work that goes into creating these fonts! For Chinese, they need to make a design for every single character and there are very few shortcuts they can use. This is why there are so few Chinese fonts compared to the thousands and thousands of Latin fonts.

How people curse around the world

Everyone likes to swear! Don’t even f*cking try to tell me you don’t 😀 Swear words are very interesting little words that often come from very specific places in life, no matter the language or culture. Most swear words originate as words relating to animals, bodily excretions or family members.

Yes, they are just words, but they are words that are almost like weapons and are used to insult and hurt other people. So we have given these words power. Over time the effectiveness of swear words is worn down and others come to replace them. Humbug used to be a very powerful swear word but it has lessened over time. But if you wish to use these words, make sure to use them responsibly 🙂