I have apparently never devoted a post to the wonderful Omniglot site before, although it’s been in my “Language resources” list pretty much since LH started. Just as well, because before I would have said it was a great place to go for writing systems, and now I learn from a MetaFilter post that Simon Ager has added all sorts of things, including Useful foreign phrases, Language learning tips, and Assorted foreign phrases (“These phrases come mainly from phrasebooks and language courses. Some of them are intended to illustrate particular grammatical points, others I just found amusing”—I am particularly fond of Portuguese Entrou na casa e viu os chapéus no benguleiro ‘He entered the house and saw the hats in the hat stand’). Oh, and there’s a blog, a regular feature of which is a language quiz; the latest has “a recording of part of a story in a mystery language… Do you know or can you guess which language it’s in and where it’s spoken?” Needless to say, I love that kind of thing. (Don’t scroll down that page if you don’t want to see other people’s guesses.)


  1. I can’t believe you haven’t posted about Omniglot before. I was absolutely certain that I learned about Omniglot from a post here, that led to me correcting one of the Hindi “useful phrases” there.

  2. I’ve mentioned it, but I haven’t had a post devoted to it—or if I have, my title was so clever and subtle it fooled me when I was looking through the search results.

  3. Google shows you have mentioned it in 18 posts: Saving Languages at SOAS, Yan Tyan Tethera, Lost Languages, Bollywood Language, Rotor, Tom & Jerry in Chinese, The Languages of McDonalds, Lepcha [Mora], Illiteracy in China, Unicode Glagolitic, World Language Map, Elvish After School, Korean Keyboards, Q Before U, Names in Katakana, Caron, The Stenography Craze, and of course Omniglot.

  4. Cellulite creams do not work and they can kill you and everyone you know.
    Caveat emptor.

  5. Yesterday I went the dentist, and while I was chatting to the dental hygienist she detected a Welsh accent in my English and switched to Welsh. So we continued talking in Welsh and she was surprised when I told her that I’m not a native speaker as she’d assumed. Apparently I have a mid-Wales accent in Welsh.

  6. My dental hygienist told me my Welsh accent is typically Patagonian (upper-class). And why is your comment indented, Pete? You aren’t supposed to blockquote you’re own lines.

  7. Hi,
    I am currently working at a company called lang-8, where it offers online service (free of charge) for people who like to learn languages other than their mother tongues and it also allows users to write journal entries which can be corrected by someone who is a native in that language that you write your entry; meaning you can write your entries in any languages you want. It is like everyone helps each other by correcting each others’ journal entries and so everyone learns! Maybe you would be interested in trying it out and taking a look? I also think it might be interesting for your readers as well, but of course, that’s up to you=)
    Since you know about Omniglot, you should check lang-8 out=) ^_^
    Please let me know if you have any questions! You can email me at

  8. michael farris says

    A dental hygenist (not mine, she has too much sense to burden me with such nonsense) once told me that my Welsh accent is reminiscent of the extreme southeast.
    Apparently hardly anyone there speaks Welsh so it was hard to turn that into a complement in my mind but I somehow managed to.

  9. Zythophile says

    I thought I detected a hint of Porthmadog lilt in the English of my dental hygienist, so I said to her: “O ble ydych chi’n dod?” and she said: “Piss off, you Welsh bastard.”

  10. And anyway, what were you doing at the dentist’s on a Sunday?

  11. marie-lucie says

    And you were all at the same Welsh dentist’s too! Something fishy going on.

  12. António Silva says

    Just a quick correction on that portuguese phrase you are fond of: the correct word is “bengaleiro”, the piece of furniture where one placed the canes (“bengala”). According to Houaiss etymological dictionary, “bengala” is shorthand for Bengal cane, used long ago to make walking canes in this part of the world.

  13. Charles Perry says

    I have a handy phrase (it has proved handy once or twice) in Tagalog: the lyrics to “White Christmas” (which don’t refer at any point to snow).

  14. My dentiste is in fact South African. I don’t know if his native language is English or Afrikaans, since we only communicate in Dutch. (Strickly speaking I mostly gargle but that is after all close enough.)
    He says I gargle with an Abergavenny accent, FWIW.

  15. Interesting, Des. My dentist is from China, but speaks excellent English. I cannot vouch for her Welsh – but then, she cannot vouch for mine.
    I went to a dentist in South Africa when I chipped a tooth there. He was about to go to the Greek islands for a brief holiday. Apparently that’s what dentists in the northern suburbs of Joburg do when business is slow, which it often is. There is an oversupply. I asked had he considered Gwynnedd, instead? He said no: everyone asked him that, and he could never understand why.

  16. michael farris says

    “My dentist is from China”
    How gauche, anybody who’s _anybody_ has a Welsh dentist now to provide those valuable Welsh dialect diagnosis services.

  17. David Marjanović says

    Where does that new in-joke come from, and why isn’t it (more transparently) about Dravidian?!?
    (Besides, dentists come from Romania.)

  18. Odontica says

    Michael Farris, I was providing a diagnostic service myself. You were supposed to correct my Gwynnedd to Gwynedd. Only a novice thinks that Welsh permits random duplication of consonants. It’s every second consonant.
    Anyway, as I was saying: she’s from China. I think she might like me. I like her, a bit. The problem is … how would you take things further? Let’s face it: in some ways, she knows me better than I know myself. She has such “insight”. How do you make a move? “Hey, would you like to get a coffee, and then maybe we could listen to a couple of symphonies by Anton Benda (1722–1795)? I’ve got the Naxos CD.” And then, if it came to kissing you’d be worried what might come of it. Nothing seems right. Any advice? Hrơn? Des? You’re men of the world! Where’s Nijma when you need her …

  19. David, as the book says: Dentists are from Wales, Orthodontists are from Romania. Let’s all not stray from our areas of expertise.

  20. John Emerson says

    Never date your dentist. They can be vengeful if the relationship turns out badly.

  21. bruessel says

    “I have a handy phrase (it has proved handy once or twice) in Tagalog: the lyrics to “White Christmas” (which don’t refer at any point to snow).”
    Do you mean that the lyrics in Tagalog don’t refer to snow? Because the English ones certainly do:
    … and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

  22. I assumed (and assume) that the reference was to the lyrics in Tagalog.

  23. Everything I know about dating dentists I learned from Alexander McCall-Smith’s Two and a half pillars of wisdom.
    The moral, I gather, is to ask her out before she marries Prof. Dr. Unterholzer.

  24. I know you’re a gourmet, so I think you ought to cook her a dinner (with or without other guests present).
    Someone we know is a surgeon of the jaw. She has a closet full of very expensive designer handbags that are still in their wrapping paper. She buys them in Switzerland, where she practises her art or craft. She lives in Sweden and drives down there in a sports car.

  25. But how’s her Welsh?

  26. Because of the depredations of Communism, cherry-condition designer hand bags are the preferred currency in the Norwegian underground economy. The Norwegian Crown (popularly known as the “A.J.P.”)is virtually worthless except for tipping prinsessen at their public appearances. In Communist Norway, tipping is regarded as a feudal vestige and generally forbidden, but in the case of prinsessen is allowed for obvious reasons.

  27. Michael Farris says

    “In Communist Norway, tipping is regarded as a feudal vestige and generally forbidden, but in the case of prinsessen is allowed for obvious reasons”
    But the canny visitor will always remember to add “the angels told me to give this to you”.

  28. Well, my dentist in China was Bulgarian, although he called Melbourne home. I had no romantic interest in my dentist (wrong sex, decidedly middle-aged and not terribly good looking), but he was a great dentist. He spoke to his Chinese dental assistants (whose English was pretty limited) in grunts of almost unintelligible Bulgarian-accented English. Miraculously, they always performed their tasks without error. Unfortunately I think he’s gone back to Melbourne…

  29. Unfortunately I think he’s gone back to Melbourne…
    Thank you Bathrobe. We appreciate the warning.
    My Chinese dentist does not speak in grunts at all. As far as I know, she calls Melbourne home. This would fit rather neatly, because that is indeed where she lives. I think she has no links with Bulgaria, unless these be of the most tenuous and gerrymandered kind such as a philosopher might concoct to prove a point. Anyway, European connexions are a topic I would avoid with her as altogether too delicate. Her not being Welsh-trained, and all that.
    And thanks, Křon. Cook for her. Hmmm. A bit forward. I guess coffee might be safest for a start. Now that I think of it, we did have a long chat (when my mouth was free to execute the necessary articulations, I mean) about tea and its staining effect on teeth. She said many Chinese suffer enormously from this affliction.
    Coffee. Hmmm.

  30. … where Noetica will be able to make an appointment with him if things don’t work out. I’m sure they will, though. Think how much money he’ll save, marrying his dentist. He’ll never have to pay for a another Welsh lesson, that’s for sure.

  31. Omniglot seems to have turned into a (very) inconveniently designed ad for V!agra…

  32. Zythophile says

    The man who sweeps up the clippings in the male hairdresser’s I use is from Warsaw. He’s known as the barber’s Pole.

  33. I don’t drink coffee any more. Tea is safer than coffee and you can discuss George Orwell.

  34. Perhaps, Chronicus. With whom would it be safer to drink tea than a dentist, who could deal with the inevitable stains?
    And we could discuss theism as meaning “addiction to tea”, in OED. Now there‘s an entrée.
    Tea. Hmmm.

  35. Although I think of Orwell as having bad teeth, as a theist I really don’t believe tea stains are inevitable. Ask one of the Welsh-speaking Melburnian hygienists before you discuss it with Her. I have an old friend from school who is a dentist and I find they don’t talk about teeth that much; what they really enjoy is a good discussion of dental-practice management and retirement planning. Also, dental blogging.

  36. Identica says

    The idea of exploring unvoiced labio-osculatory fricatives à deux with one skilled in the dark art (or perhaps dazzlingly illuminated art) of dentistry has a certain edgy appeal, and I think most of us could be persuaded to overcome any fear of latent theism, if that’s what it would take.
    Thanks Korn! I’ll mention what you said to my aunt.

  37. You do that, but if you’ve ever been to Rickmansworth you’ll agree it’s a pretty implausible setting for anyone to be having a big idea. A likely place to find a Welsh-speaking dentist, though, I bet.

  38. David Marjanović says

    David, as the book says: Dentists are from Wales, Orthodontists are from Romania. Let’s all not stray from our areas of expertise.

    Oh. Lesson learned.

  39. My hairdresser is a Russian from Uzbekistan. My dentist is a Pole from America (he tells Polish jokes ve-ry slow-ly).

  40. But does he speak Welsh? We’re trying to amass a database here.

Speak Your Mind