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Radio Omniglot

Education Podcasts

A podcast about language and linguistics

A podcast about language and linguistics


United Kingdom


A podcast about language and linguistics








Omniglot News (26/09/21)

There are three new languages on Omniglot this week: Kambera (hilu Humba), a Sumba-Flores language spoken mainly in the east of Sumba Island in the Lesser Sunda Islands in East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. Mentawai (Behase Mentawei), a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken in the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra province of Indonesia. Gayo (Basa Gayo), […]

Adventures in Etymology 28 – Neighbour

As I got to know some of my neighbours better this week I thought I’d look into the the origins of the word neighbour [ˈneɪbə] / neighbor [ˈneɪbɚ]. Definition: a person who lives near or next to another a person or thing near or next to another to be or live close (to a person […]

Omniglot News (19/09/21)

There is a new writing system on Omniglot this week: The Global Alphabet, which was devised in 1944 by Robert Latham Owen as an alternative way to write English and other languages. There’s a new adapted script: Türk Uygur Alfabesi, which is a way to write Turkish using the Uyghur version of the Arabic alphabet […]

Adventures in Etymology 27 – Bucket

Today we’re looking into the the origins of the word bucket [ˈbʌkɪt/ˈbə-kət]. Definition: a container made of rigid material, often with a handle, used to carry liquids or small items. a part of a piece of machinery that resembles a bucket [source] It comes from the Middle English buket/boket [ˈbukɛt] (bucket), partly from the Old […]

Omniglot News (12/09/21)

This week I added details of Xiǎo’érjīng (小兒錦 / ثِیَوْعَرڭٍ۟), which is a way to write Mandarin Chinese (普通话) and Dungan (Хуэйзў йүян) with the Arabic alphabet that’s sometimes used by Muslims in China. There are two new constucted scripts: Elithnah and IKON. Elithnah was created by Richard Orbeck, and is used in his novel […]

Adventures in Etymology 26 – Iron

Today we’re getting elemental and delving into the origins of the word iron [ˈaɪ.ən/ˈaɪ.ɚn]. Definition: an element which usually takes the form of a hard, dark-grey metal that can be used to make steel. an electrical device with a flat metal base that heats up and is used to remove creases from clothes. [source] It […]

Omniglot News (05/09/21)

This week on Omniglot there are details of several new languages from southern Mexico, thanks to Wolfram Siegel: Acazulco Otomi (Ndöö́ngüǘ yühǘ) is an Eastern Otomian language spoken in the town of San Jerónimo Acazulco in the state of Mexico. Sierra Otomi (Yųhų / Ñųhų) is another Eastern Otomian language spoken in the states of […]

Adventures in Etymology 25 – Yarn

Today we’re spinning a yarn and telling a tale about the origins of the word yarn [jɑːn/jɑɹn]. Definition: a continuous strand of twisted threads of natural or synthetic fibers, such as wool or nylon, used in weaving or knitting. A long, often elaborate narrative of real or fictitious adventures; an entertaining tale. [source] It comes […]

Omniglot News (29/08/21)

This week we have a new writing system on Omniglot: the Qiang Script, which was created in 2017 and is used to write the Qiang languages of Sichuan Province in the southwest of China. One of those languages, Northern Qiang (Rrmea), now features on Omniglot, and was the mystery language in this week’s language quiz […]

Adventures in Etymolgy 24 – Ado

Today we are looking at the word ado [əˈduː], so without further ado, let’s go. Definition: bustle, fuss, flurry, confusion, turmoil, commotion, trouble, bother, bustling activity [source] It tends used in set expressions, such as “without further ado” and “with much ado” and is sometimes replaced with to-do, which means the same thing. It comes […]

Episode 46 – Surnames

The word surname, as in a family name, comes from the Late Latin supernōmen/suprānōmen (surname), from super- (over, above, beyond) and nōmen (name) [source]. The most common surnames in England are: Smith, Jones, Taylor, Brown, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, Davies, Robinson and Wright [source]. Types of surname: Occupational; Smith, Taylor, Wright Patronimics; Jones, Williams, Wilson, Johnson, […]

Omniglot News (22/08/21)

This week’s new languages are: Ateso – an Eastern Nilotic language spoken in eastern Uganda and northwestern Kenya. Ngaju – a West Barito language spoken in the province of Central Kalimantan in Indonesia. Lango (Lëblaŋo) – a Southern Luo language spoken in northern Uganda. Melanau – a North Bornean language spoken in the state of […]

Adventures in Etymology 23 – Hedge

Today we are looking at the word hedge [hɛdʒ]. Definition: a row of bushes or small trees planted close together, especially when forming a fence or boundary [source] It comes from the Middle English word hegge [hɛd͡ʒ] (hedge, bush, shrub), from the Old English heċġ [hed͡ʒ] (fence), from the Proto-West-Germanic *haggju (hedge), from the Proto-Germanic […]

Omniglot News (15/08/21)

This week’s new languages are: Kelabit, Bonggi and Ida’an Kelabit (karuh Kelabit) – a North Bornean language spoken mainly in the Bario Highlands of Sarawak in Malaysia, and in nearby parts of East Kalimantan province in Indonesia. Bonggi – a North Bornean language spoken on the islands of Banggai and Balambangan, part of the Malaysian […]

Adventures in Etymology 22 – Fence

Today we’re looking at the word fence [fɛns], as my slate fence is being replaced with a wooden one, mainly to stop my neighbour’s dog from getting in my garden. Definition: a barrier enclosing or bordering a field, yard, etc, usually made of vertical posts connected with horizontal sections of sturdy material such as wood, […]

Omniglot News (08/08/21)

This week’s new languages are: Uduk, Bardi, Kumandy and Lun Bawang Uduk (‘Twāmpā) – a Nilo-Saharan language spoken in Sudan and South Sudan. Bardi – a Western Nyulnyulan language spoken in the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia. Kumandy (куманды) – a Northern Altai language spoken mainly in the Altai Republic and Altai […]

Adventures in Etymology 21 – Circle

Today we are looking at the word circle [ˈsɜː.kəɫ / ˈsɝ.kəɫ]. Definition: A shape consisting of a curved line completely surrounding an area, every part of which is the same distance from the centre of the area. [source] It comes from the Middle English word circle, cercle, from the Old French cercle [ˈtser.klə] (circle), from […]

Omniglot News (01/08/21)

This week’s new languages are: Juang, Ye’kuana and Sandawe. Juang (ଜୁଆଙ୍) – a Munda language spoken in Odisha state in eastern India. Ye’kuana – a Cariban language spoken mainly in southern Venzuela, and also in northwest Brazil Sandawe (Sàndàwé kì’ìng) – a language isolate spoken in the Dodoma Region of central Tanzania. There’s a new […]

Adventures in Etymology 20 – Distract

Today we are looking at the word distract [dɪsˈtɹækt], that’s if I don’t get distracted, as often happens. Definition: to draw away or divert, as the mind or attention to disturb or trouble greatly in mind, beset to provide a pleasant diversion for; amuse; entertain to separate or divide by dissension or strife [source] It […]

Episode 45 – Japanese (日本語)

In this episode I talk about Japanese, giving an overview of the history of the language, its vocabulary and grammar, and how and why I learnt it. 日本語 (nihongo/nippongo) = Japanese 日 (nichi, jitsu, hi, bi, ka) = day, sun, Japan, counter for days. E.g. 日曜日 (nichiyōbi – Sunday), 日々 (hibi / nichinichi – daily), […]