Zentralfriedhof, Vienna – The same size as Zurich and twice the fun!

The Zentralfriedhof (main cemetary) in Vienna lies on the edge of the city not far from the Vienna airport. With a “population” of over 3 million, it houses twice as many people as currently are alive in the city. But why would you ever want to visit a cemetery when you go to Vienna? Maybe…

A classic recipe for a Dark Forest Gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

Typically I am not a cake person but there are definitely exceptions. The Dark Forest Gateau (German: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, literally “Black Forest Cherry Cake”) definitely falls into those exceptions! A wonderful mix of chocolate, cherries and rich cream is a great ending to any traditional meal from Baden-Württemberg (especially Maultaschen or Spätzle). You can find…

Quora – Why is soda water called soda water?

Original question: Why is soda water called soda water? The term “soda” in water comes from approximately the 15th century and refers to the use of sodium carbonate or bicarbonate. This originally comes from the Italian sida, which means “a kind of saltwort”, which is where these substances were first obtained. There are a few possible further…

Maultaschen (“mouth pockets”) from Swabia, Germany

(The photo of the Maultaschen in broth is by Matthias Haupt) When I lived in Germany, my favourite cuisine from the country was easily that of Baden-Württemberg. As I am someone who eats little meat, I loved the vegetarian options from the region, including some variety of spätzle and the vegetarian Maultaschen. Maultaschen, which translates…

Quora – What are the problems encountered in translating specialized vocabulary?

This question can be a bit difficult to answer because some problems will depend on which languages you are translating between. For that reason, I will try to keep the problems listed more generalised but use examples for clarity when I can think of them/find them. Let’s jump in! 1) Context – Specialised vocabulary is…

Quora – What is the difference between dehiscence and evisceration?

Both of these phenomena are similar but there is a slight difference between the two. Let’s look at some definitions (both from dictionary.cambridge.org): dehiscence – the splitting or bursting open of a pod or wound evisceration – to remove one or all of the organs from the inside of a body In medicine, dehiscence (when…

Bismarckturm Schoden, Germany – A silent sentinal

Standing on a hill above the Saar river in Germany near the town of Schoden in Rheinland-Pfalz/Rhineland-Palatinate stands a Bismarckturm (Bismarck tower); a standardised monument built to honour Germany’s first chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. These towers were built around the turn of the 20th century to honour him; They conform (more or less) to a…

Quora – Is the word ‘ginormous’ considered slang or is it an actual English word?

Before I answer your question, I would like to correct a common misconception that is included in your question: slang words are not actual words. Slang words are words that belong to the language from which they originate. I think the question you mean to ask is about the register of the word “ginormous”. Register is a…

Quora – What is the real meaning and usage of the word “factoid”?

Original question: What is the real meaning and usage of the word “factoid”? A “factoid” is a statement or something similar concerning unreliable information that has become repeated so often that it is thought to be a fact by the general public. The “-oid” ending means “like”, “similar to” or “resembling”, so a factoid is…

Quora – What slang words or phrases do you recommend using for non-English speakers among friends?

Original question: What slang words or phrases do you recommend using for non-English speakers among friends? I think with this question, you mean “non-native English speakers”. Even if you did not mean this, this question is extremely difficult to answer. Anyone answering this question needs to know a lot more about the situation. How old…

Translation, interpreting, localisation and transcreation – what are they and what are the differences?

If you have taken even a slight interest in the fields of translation and interpreting, you will most likely have come across these terms before. You might have seen these four terms (translation, interpreting, localisation and transcreation) thrown around but what do they actually mean? Before we get into the differences, let’s define some terms:…

Rheinschlucht, Switzerland – The Grand Canyon of Switzerland

The Ruinaulta or Rheinschlucht is a large canyon in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland. It formed approximately 10,000 years ago. when a landslide brought millions of tonnes of debris into the valley, creating this canyon area. The term Ruinaulta refers to this high heap of rubble (the literal meaning), while the name Rheinschlucht translates…

Yet another update

Hello everyone, Thanks again for coming back to my blog/website. Since the last update, several things have happened, which is why I have not been writing nearly as often here as I was planning on doing when I first started. There is an exceptionally good reason for that; I just moved to the UK! “The…

Eltz Castle, Germany – A Living Castle

Eltz Castle is a majestic little castle. It sits on a rock in a small wooded valley in Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) in Germany. Although definitely among the lesser-known castles (unlike Hohenzollern or Neuschwanstein), it is extremely appropriate for its location and has a few unique features, both physically and as well as features of its history….

Quora – What is the contribution of Samuel Johnson to the English language?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the contribution of Samuel Johnson to English language? on Quora While Samuel Johnson had other contributions, he is most well-known for publishing his dictionary A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. This dictionary is considered to be the first reliable English language dictionary. What made the dictionary innovative was the use…

Quora – Why do certain “og” words — monologue, dialogue, synagogue — have that silent “ue” ending?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Why do certain “og” words — monologue, dialogue, synagogue — have that silent “ue” ending? on Quora These words have two specific things in common: where they come from and how they came to the English language. All three words are Greek in origin (monologos, dialogos, synagoge) that came to English via…

Quora – How do you enunciate the letter “W”? Is it “Dub-yoo”, “Dub-boo-yoo” or, “Double-yoo”? IS there a ‘proper’ way? It’s driven me berserk ever since phonics class in kindergarten.

Read James Brooks‘ answer to How do you enunciate the letter “W”? Is it “Dub-yoo”, “Dub-boo-yoo” or, “Double-yoo”? IS there a ‘proper’ way? It’s driven me berserk ever since phonics class in kindergarten. on Quora While I pronounce it (using the International Phonetics Alphabet) /ˈdʌb(ə)lˌjuː/ (double-yoo I guess from your question) I would argue that…

Quora – Where does the word “furlough” come from?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Where does the word “furlough” come from? on Quora Furlough was imported in the 1620s Dutch word verlof (meaning permission) to mean a leave of absence from the military. Verlof is made up of two parts, the Middle Dutch ver- (completely, for) and laf (permission). Laf originally comes from Proto-Germanic *laubo. In English the parts are for and leave. There is an alternate spelling furloe in the 18th…

Quora – As a freelancer based in London, is there any way I can live in Spain for 6 months without becoming an ‘autonomo’? It’s a lot of hassle for just 6 months.

Read James Brooks‘ answer to As a freelancer based in London, is there any way I can live in Spain for 6 months without becoming an ‘autonomo’? It’s a lot of hassle for just 6 months. on Quora There is a way that you can live in Spain without registering there as a freelancer but…

Quora – Is there a 2-year grace period before you have to register as an autónomo in Spain?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Is there a 2-year grace period before you have to register as an autónomo in Spain? on Quora Unfortunately, there is no grace period before having to register as an autónomo. There is, however, a grace period once you become an autónomo. Rather than directly paying €250 into Social Security…

Quora – What are the origins of the word “slimy”?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What are the origins of the word “slimy”? on Quora The word slimy appeared in English in the late 14 century. It comes from the word slime, which came from the Old English slim, which in turn came from the Proto-Germanic *slimaz. The appearance of the word slimy has also been seen following a similar pattern in related…

Quora – What vivid verb should I use when someone “turns into” a zombie?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What vivid verb should I use when someone “turns into” a zombie? on Quora Well, turns into means the same thing as become, so let’s look at synonyms for become: come develop into grow into turn into convert incline mature metamorphose transform shift wax alter to assume form of be converted to be reduced…

Quora – Is “the parcel arrived this morning” grammatically correct?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Is “the parcel arrived this morning” grammatically correct? on Quora It depends on what you mean. If you are trying to make a statement in the past tense (something that has already happened), then yes, it is grammatically correct. You start with the subject (the parcel), followed by the verb…

Quora – What does throughout mean in this sentence, “The organization was first-class, with medical volunteers on standby throughout, and drinks stations every few kilometres of the route.”?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What does throughout mean in this sentence, “The organization was first-class, with medical volunteers on standby throughout, and drinks stations every few kilometres of the route.”? on Quora Throughout has two meanings: In every part of a place From beginning to end of a specific time (such as an event) In…

Quora – What is a single word for ‘stimulating the central nervous system’ in Greek and English languages?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is a single word for ‘stimulating the central nervous system’ in Greek and English languages? on Quora While I don’t know every single word in the English language, I do not believe that there is a single word to mean stimulating the CNS. The word stimulate is defined as: raise levels…

Quora – Are the ‘th’s in ‘thought’ and ‘that’ pronounced the same?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Are the ‘th’s in ‘thought’ and ‘that’ pronounced the same? on Quora While this depends on where you come from (and therefore which dialect of English and which accent you speak with), following standard pronunciations, the ‘th’ sounds are generally the same in those words. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet, though is…

Quora – Where does the word ‘soggy’ come from?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Where does the word ‘soggy’ come from? on Quora Soggy was first recorded in 1722 and may have come from either the noun sog, meaning “swamp, bog”, or from the verb sog, meaning “to become soaked”. However etymologists have been unable to figure out where those words originate. [1] Origin and meaning of soggy by…

Quora – What is the origin of the word ugliness?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the origin of the word ugliness? on Quora The word ugliness was first recorded in the late 14th century. It comes from the word ugly and the suffix -ness. Ugly appeared in the mid 13th century from an Old Norse word uggligr (“dreadful, fearful”), which itself is from uggr (“fear, apprehension, dread” (perhaps related to agg “strife, hate”))…

Quora – Is the word ‘jaded’ an adjective?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Is the word ‘jaded’ an adjective? on Quora Jaded is an adjective; it is used to describe (alter) nouns, which is the definition of an adjective. Jaded has two meanings: bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something (In Ireland, informal) physically tired; exhausted Here are some…

Quora – Is Flourishing an adjective?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Is Flourishing an adjective? on Quora Flourishing is an adjective because it is used to modify a noun: The flourishing economy (adjective) I pronounced flourish (using the International Phonetic Alphabets) as: /ˈflʌrɪʃ/. There are two syllables with the stress on the first one, which becomes something like: FLUR-ish (the U is pronounced like the U…

Quora – What is the origin of the word “fostering”?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the origin of the word “fostering”? on Quora Well, if we take the base foster, it comes from the Old English *fostrian meaning “to supply with food, nourish, support”. This comes from Proto-Germanic *fostra-, which in turn comes from the extended form of PIE root *pa- “to feed.” The meaning of “to bring up…

Quora – What is the German word for “laptop”?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the German word for “laptop”? on Quora Generally in Germany, the word Laptop is also used. Another alternative is Notebook, usually used the same way that notebook would be used in English to mean the notebook type of laptop. A quick look online has also found a few “joke” answers that have been used…

Quora – What is the German word for “country“?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the German word for “country“? on Quora The word that is used most often is Land. For example, Deutschland roughly translates as the country (land) of Germans. In some cases, Staat can also be used. For example, two words for citizenship in German are: Staatsangehörigkeit – Staat = country, angehörig = affiliated, -keit…

Quora – Why does English have so many words that sound exactly the same but mean totally different things?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Why does English have so many words that sound exactly the same but mean totally different things? on Quora There are many reasons: languages change and generally become simplified over time, trends emerge in pronunciation changes, etc. Often there is not one clear defined event that someone can point to…

Quora – Is ‘svelte’ an English word?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Is ‘svelte’ an English word? on Quora The word svelte is used in English but it was adopted from the French word (spelt the same) in 1817. The French word came from the Italian svelto, which was an adjective that was made from the verb svellere, which in turn comes from the Latin ex- (“out”) and vellere (“to pluck/stretch”). As…

Quora – How do you pronounce walk vs. wok?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to How do you pronounce walk vs. wok? on Quora I pronounce them slightly differently, although the difference is very small. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet, I pronounce walk as /wɔːk/ and wok as /wɒk/. Both are single syllables. The way I pronounce walk rhymes with talk (/tɔːk/) and wok rhymes with cock (/kɒk/). If you want to learn more about the International…

Quora – What is the most useful word that has been invented?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What is the most useful word that has been invented? on Quora I think this question is a bit difficult to answer because it depends on what you consider important. A word that I consider very important and useful for language is the verb to be. Without it, you could not have written your question…

Quora – Where can you find the key to pronunciation marks in a standard dictionary?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to Where can you find the key to pronunciation marks in a standard dictionary? on Quora This question is going to be a bit difficult because dictionaries use a wide range of “standards”. Some of them use the International Phonetic Alphabet, some use Phonemic Alphabets and some have come up with…

Quora – What’s the origin of the “-ward” suffix in English, in words such as “downward, eastward, toward”?

Read James Brooks‘ answer to What’s the origin of the “-ward” suffix in English, in words such as “downward, eastward, toward”? on Quora The suffix -ward comes from the Old English -weard (or sometimes -weardes when used as the genitive) meaning “toward” or “turned toward”. This, in turn, comes from the Proto-Germanic *werda-, which stems from the Proto-Indo-European *werto- meaning “to turn/wind”. Originally, -ward was used to…

Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, Germany – The sea is calm tonight

You may not connect Germany with the ocean in your mind. However you would be remiss to forget that Germany actually has two coasts. One the eastern side of the country, directly north of Berlin, lies the Baltic Coast. On the Baltic Coast lies the Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, or the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National…

Modal verbs – shall/should

The modal pair shall/should seem like they should be the easiest modal verbs to learn, so why aren’t they? Unlike most modal verbs, there are some regional and dialectical differences between shall and should. Let’s look at their uses and differences below: Order/command/prophecy You can use the word shall for orders, commands and prophecy when…