Category Archives: Language is Great!

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

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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Losers and Losers

Put this one in the “wish English had a word like this” box. Google-translate the English word “loser” into Bulgarian and you’ll get two translations: zagubenyak and karak.  The first means literally “one who loses” (za-gub-en-nyak = FILLING-lose-PARTICIPLE-person), and it refers to someone who’s … Continue reading

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The Nun and the Ern

  Working on some background for Junction, in which a wormhole in New Guinea leads to an alien planet. Of course, there are people living around the wormhole on both ends, called the Nun (nearside) and Ern (farside). The Nun … Continue reading

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Oh, gaita!

Shocking news! The traditional bagpipe of the principality of Asturia in Spain is called the gaita. Same with Gallician and standard Spanish (where it’s also called cornamusa). The traditional bagpipe of Bulgaria is the gayda, which is more or less … Continue reading

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