The Fascinating Greenlandic Language

By our multi-lingual friend Brian Loo Soon Hua, a.k.a. uTalk’s Language Guru. “No Smoking” signs in Nuuk, Greenland are often in three languages: Greenlandic (Pujortarfigeqqusaanngitsoq), Danish (Røgfrit Område– literally “Smoke-free Area”) and English (No Smoking). Notice anything special about the Greenlandic version? Greenlandic, like several other indigenous languages in North and South America, allows the … Read more

Stop thinking about it and get going!

In the spirit of ‘Linguists Anonymous’, I am Felicity Jones, 45, and I am mildly addicted to learning other languages. I speak French, German, Spanish, Italian and some Mandarin. I have used uTalk to learn some Danish, and my January challenge is Greek. Even as a child I would listen under the bed cover to … Read more

To tip or not to tip?

A social dilemma you’re bound to fall into at some point is whether or not to tip – and how much! Tip too little and you risk the waiter chasing you down the street shouting abuse; tip too much and you might gravely offend the staff. Tipping customs vary all over the world, between different countries … Read more

Where it’s at – how to say @ in different languages

The other day a colleague was telling someone his email address in French. He was halfway through and ran across a problem. He didn’t know the word for “the little ‘a’ in the circle”. In English we just say ‘at’, but that translates as ‘à’ in French and that sounds remarkably like the letter ‘a’. … Read more

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs (and Wheelbarrows and Old Ladies)

‘It’s raining cats and dogs!’ is a common British phrase meaning that it’s raining particularly hard. There are various theories as to where the expression came from – although there’s no evidence that it’s ever actually happened! It may come from the Greek expression cata doxa. This means ‘contrary to experience or belief’ and might … Read more

The challenges of translation

Over the last six months we’ve had our new free app uTalk translated into over 30 languages, and dealt with over 120 native language speakers who’ve either translated or performed the scripts. Along the way we’ve confronted many challenges which really emphasise how one language can be ambiguous whilst another is precise, and vice versa. In … Read more

Something Borrowed: when one language just isn’t enough

After reading Konstantia’s post a few months ago about how many of our everyday words come from Greek, I started to think about where some of our other words came from. You might think that we are the ones influencing everyone else (words such as wifi in French, surfear for surfing the net in Spanish, … Read more