Words That Have Circumnavigated the World

The Indonesian word for ‘dictionary’ (kamus) is almost the same as the Swahili word (kamusi) and is in fact an old borrowing from Arabic that somehow came from the Greek word for ‘ocean’. Confused? Here’s how multilingualism and trade spread three rather unusual words around the world. An ocean of words The Indonesian word for … Read more

How Many Languages Are There in the Philippines?

Ilocano, the third-most spoken language in the Philippines, is our language of the week this week. We’ve previously taken a look at Cebuano, but considering that there are 187 languages spread over 7,000 islands, that means there’s a lot more to cover! In this post, we’ll do a quick overview of the Philippines’ languages, their … Read more

‘Wang Wang’: The Siren Call of the Philippines

The sign saying ‘this is a no wang wang zone’ can be puzzling for foreign visitors to Manila International Airport in the Philippines. It’s written in English, one of the two official languages of the country (the other being Filipino, a standardised form of Tagalog), but what does it mean? Well, ‘wang wang’ is used … Read more