Tag Archives for languages


The 50 Weirdest Languages

50 weirdest languages lead image.

Ever wanted to learn a language? The folk at language travel specialists ESL have put together a list of 50 of the world’s weirdest languages, most of which are probably best avoided. Discover languages on the verge of extinction – Njerep has only four living speakers, Kaixana only one. Explore curios like Yupik, where every […]


Language Soup

Food for Thought

So we’re back in Turkey, en route to Bali, by way of Malaysia, and my brain just turned to language soup. Like most Britons, I only speak one language well – my own. I studied Latin and Greek and have schoolgirl French, some Indonesian and a bit of Chinese. Once upon a time I also […]


It’s All About The Cross-Hatching

Chinese Characters

“Bwahahaha,” I say. “Did you know the Chinese for ‘writer’ is, literally, ‘sit-at-home’?” “No,” says Zac. “NOOB! The ‘zuo’ in ‘zuo-jia’ is a different kind of ‘zuo’ from the ‘zuo’ that means sit.” “Oh,” I say, racking my brains to find out how many Chinese characters for ‘zuo’ I actually know. “Is it the ‘zuo’ […]


French Conversation

Tubing in yellow ring

The resort beach at the far end of town has some rather fine windsurfing on offer, and I figured that, with the water relatively warm and the wind relatively low, here would be a good place for Z to learn.. So, of course, did Z. Until he got there, obviously. “WOW!” says Z. “Banana boats! […]


Learning Mandarin: Week 4

Shangri La Sign

“If you finish this book,” Sophie reiterates, “You’ll be able to get all around China with no problems.” I wouldn’t have thought it possible when we started learning Chinese. But, weirdly, I think she’s right. A month ago we couldn’t tell where one sound ended and the next one began. A Chinese sentence was a […]


Learning Mandarin: Week 3

Kunming Sea of People

A week to go before we head out of Kunming into the great wide open, over 30 hours of language lessons in, and we are, both of us, beginning to wonder whether the blood and sweat we’ve invested in learning Chinese is going to work. To understand and be understood in Chinese, I’m finding, you […]


Learning Mandarin: Week 2

Mandarin Week 2

So the boy and I have completed our second week learning Mandarin in China. We’ve only got a week’s more learning before we’re out on our own exploring — although I think we’ll carry on via Skype. If you’re a language geek, or planning to study Chinese, you might want to read about our first […]


Learning Mandarin: Week 1


Learning from our experiences in Indonesia, I figured it would be wise to start our sojourn in China by actually studying a bit of Mandarin and (hopefully) learning the basics of Chinese. Z was up for this too. At least until he realised Mandarin is a tonal language. Which means that every syllable has five […]


Me Singlish Damn Powerful One, Ah?

dress in window little india singapore

“You buy now,” says the girl in the shoe shop. “You buy now.” It’s less a question than a statement, less a statement than a command, and almost — not quite — enough to tip me into buying the shoes straight away. I will gain, in fact, approximately ten pounds in Singapore just through a […]


20 Words to Get You (Almost) Anywhere in Indonesia

Indonesia Lead Image

I once ordered “fried p*ss” instead of “fried potatoes” in a restaurant. And, on presenting a landlady with her key, I announced, “I’m so sorry! Here’s your cat!”. So I’ve had my adventures in learning Indonesian. And, my Bahasa still isn’t pretty. All the same, if you’re thinking of getting off the beaten track in […]