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Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March - origin and different meanings We all know the phrase from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. An ominous-sounding line from the soothsayer, warning the emperor of his impending demise. With such theatrical connotations, you would think that these...

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All that glitters may be gold!

All that glitters may be gold!

All that glitters may be gold! Happy New Year to everyone, and as we emerge from the season of sparkly, twinkly fun, let’s have a look at how words can give impressions beyond their bare meanings and look at all that glitters. The New Year is often welcomed in with...

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Why intended meaning isn’t everything

Why intended meaning isn’t everything

​ I saw a man standing on a mountain with my telescope; why intended meaning isn't everything. Simple sentence, right? I’m standing on a mountain, looking through my telescope and at the other end, there’s a man standing there. Or did you read that differently? Maybe...

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Happy Children’s Day in Japan!

Happy Children’s Day in Japan!

All schools closed! No more homework and no more studying for children in Japan on May 5th, for it is Children's Day! Children's Day (or 子どもの日 “kodomo no hi”) is celebrated once a year in Japan, always on May 5th. On this bank holiday, everyone puts their day-to-day...

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Creepy Christmas customs

Most of us associate Christmas with all things joyful and heart-warming. Such as colourful lights, ornaments, carols, mulled wine, presents, and Santa. The Language Room has discovered, however, that some countries have rather creepy Christmas customs and beliefs....

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Machine translation error almost sends a man to prison

When a machine translation tool tries to render foreign idiomatic expressions, the results can be quite unexpected. Machine translation error is commonplace. For example, the French expression “sage comme une image”, used to talk about a quiet well-behaved child, can...

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Austrian German: Maximum tomfoolery… oida!

Austrian German: Maximum tomfoolery… oida!

Any language can be a challenge, in both a positive and negative way. Have you ever tried to learn German? If so, you can throw half of it out the window if you’re planning a trip to Austria. The differences between German and Austrian German can be described best as...

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Have you read these books? Literature in translation

Have you read these books? Literature in translation

There are so many books in the world, in so many languages! Have you ever wondered how many? It is impossible to obtain an exact figure, and even if we could reach an accurate one, would we even be able to read everything on the list? To give you an idea, nearly...

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Harry Potter translations – foreign language

Harry Potter translations – foreign language

Monday 26 June 2017 marked twenty years since Harry Potter was first published. Initially The Philosopher’s Stone was seen as just another children’s book. It featured a bit of magic, a strange school in a Scottish castle and a few centaurs and unicorns. However, in...

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Festive linguistics: The language of Christmas

Festive linguistics: The language of Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, we thought we would engage in some festive linguistics and investigate the roots of some of our favourite Christmas words. Bauble – The word ‘bauble’ may refer to the combination of two words: the Old French ‘baubel’ (a child’s toy)...

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