Author Archives: colin

Irregular verb

Basque: can you get one in Zara?

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Molly and Polly / Are two of a kind / They look both the same / When they’re seen from behind / But when they turn round / It’s easy to see / That it’s Molly with an M / And Polly with a P

That came back to me in a flash from more than thirty years ago earlier this week. What if television programming for small children included little songs about integration by substitution, the appendices to Kennedy’s Latin Primer, or the ribosomally-encoded … Continue reading

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Glottalization and aspiration in Georgian: evidence from user interfaces

If you type into the search box on the Georgian-language Wikipedia, you may be surprised to see Mkhedruli, the modern Georgian alphabet, appearing instead of Roman. That means you can search for ამაზონი without having to copy and paste. What … Continue reading

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Hidden degrees of economic freedom

Some people in the UK are very keen on the imperial system of weights and measures as a symbol of national identity, even though each of the units is pegged to the SI system and in fact affords the government … Continue reading

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Where one part of the body stands for another part of the body

It’s an old sexist convention that you can sell your product with a picture of a woman with her mouth slightly open because having one’s mouth slightly open is reckoned to indicate sexual availability. Not by me, of course. Why … Continue reading

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Ejective affinities

This title was prompted by having seen As You Like It in Georgian. Say ‘t’. Now make a glottal stop. Now do both at once. It’s a bit like pronouncing a word-final ‘t’ normally and enunciating it at the same … Continue reading

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Interlude d’autoroute

59… 62… 75… 75… 62, 62…. 13… 59… 59…

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Carsickness is not like homesickness

I’ve never liked choral syncopation much. If you read in the back of a car, rather than looking out of the window, you will be carsick. I did this as a child to the accompaniment of Radio 2. But out … Continue reading

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Short words in North Sámi

You can form questions by putting the verb at the beginning of the sentence and adding -go. ja is “and”, ahte is a subordinator, ii is “is not”, dat is “it”, dan is “its”, juos is “if”, I think. More … Continue reading

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Materialism and magic bottles

Organic chemists know about the “magic bottle” effect. This is where if you use a particular bottle of stuff, the reaction goes, and if you use a different, though nominally identical one, the reaction doesn’t. I can think of at … Continue reading

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