Category Archives: Language is Great!

My musings on languages natural and artificial and the science of linguistics

Bulgarian has words for:

to wake up completely: разсънвам се (razsanvam se) Raz-san-vam se glosses as “apart-dream-verb reflexive” something like “I break up my dreams.” You can add the same suffixes and prefix to buzh- (the root for “wake,” cognate to Sanskrit “Buddha”) to get разбуждам се … Continue reading

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Bulgarian root: Mah “wave”

In Bulgarian class yesterday, we were reading about eagles (like you do) and came across the phrase: Размах на крилете –  Raz-mah na kril-e-te – “Wingspan” (lit. apart-wave of wing-s-the). But while English span comes from a root meaning “to stretch” (other … Continue reading

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Ergatinglish!

Ha ha, suckers! You thought you were going to get a short story today, but instead I’m going to lecture you about made-up future English. Wait don’t go! It’ll be a form of English that has evolved ergative-absolutive alignment! Wait … Continue reading

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Learning Bulgarian: Vacations and Governments

Remember last week? Well here’s some more Bulgarian vocab! Obrashtam se kam (nyakogo): Turn to (somebody) for help Dezhuren-on duty (from French, de jure meaning “of day”) Pikolo-a bellhop (from Italian, piccolo meaning “smallest”) Funny how English also imported both words, but with different … Continue reading

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Learning Bulgarian: vacations

Here’s a new thing I’m doing: typing up my notes from Bulgarian classes, with highlights that might be interesting for you language-nerds out there. Today we talked about vacations. Here are some interesting words: Stanyavane=check-in, from nastanyavam (to check in), from the … Continue reading

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Yeah be yeah

My daughter developed a new catch phrase that I first thought was “yippy-yeah!” On closer inspection, however, she is being even more adorable. “Yeah be yeah” would be a literal translation of the Bulgarian “da be da.” Da, obviously, means … Continue reading

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English negatives are HARD!

My daughter has an easier time with saying “no” in Bulgarian than she does in English. In Bulgarian, all she has to do is move the verb to the start of the sentence ,and insert the word “ne” before it and she’s … Continue reading

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Let’s Pretend

  My wife and I were watching our daughter play in the park the other day and she reached up into a tree, picked a seed off a branch, and put it in her mouth. We both told her off … Continue reading

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A Swimsuit with Tulips

Pavlina’s favorite Bulgarian children’s song is…a bit disturbing really. Sung to the tune of “Yellow Polka-dot bikini,” it goes like this: Kogato s teb se pazhozhdam do plazha – When I walk around the beach with you Razbiram kolko si vlyuben … Continue reading

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Talking and Walking

Here’s a fun thought experiment from Steven Cox: drop a bunch of colonists who all speak the same language on a planet and let them stew for a few centuries. Come back later and count how many languages they now speak. … Continue reading

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