Category Archives: General

Puzzles and Riddles

In Tallinn ZooNow to something quite different! Do you like puzzles? You know, the kind that children make? I do. Also riddles, but puzzles are more mein Gebiet. There is a great puzzle provider called that has a worldwide audience. You can find all sorts of puzzles there, anything from Tiere to Gebäuden (CD*). The picture to the left was taken in Tallinn Zoo in Estonia, and made into a puzzle by yours truly. You could create your own any time!

The words that you see here below are solely about physical puzzles (even if made online), not mental riddles. Try as I might, I can’t find the word in Kiswahili – perhaps they just don’t make puzzles in Africa? If you know the word, please leave a message in the comment section – much appreciated!

puzzle /jigsaw puzzle palapeli mosaiikmäng/pusle pussel puslespil puslespill púsluspil(n) Puzzle(n)/Puzzlespiel(n) puzzle(m) rompecabezas(m)/ puzzle(m) quebra-cabeça(f) rompicapo(m) παζλ(n) головоломка pazuru パズル

*The abbreviation CD (or cd) is used here from now on without further explanation. Here it always means Check (your) Dictionary (not Compact Disc or Corpus Diplomati).

Never too Old to Learn

person-woman-desk-laptop-largeIs there an age limit for learning new languages? Answer: Of course there isn’t! To even ask that is about the same as asking someone whether or not he or she is too old to learn to peel an orange! You’re never too old to learn a few more languages! Or at least a few more sentences! And if for no other reason than just to brighten your – or someone else’s – day!

Here is how that age old wisdom would look like in these languages:

Live and learn(Eng) Oppia ikä kaikki(Fin) Man lär så länge man lever/Den som lever får se(Swe) Lifa og læra(Ice) Man lernt nie aus(Ger) Vis et aprend(Fra) Você vive e aprende(Por) Vive e Aprende(Spa) Vivere e imparare(Ita) Vivere et discire(Lat) Μαθαίνει κανένας όσο ζεί(Gre) Век живи, век учись(Rus) Kuishi na kujifunza(Swa) Seikatsu shi, manabimasu(Jpn) =生活し、学びます

No, you’re never too old, and never too young either! Any age goes – even if as a child you may want to learn to master that one language before taking on another. Or do you? Bilingualism is a pretty common thing in the world!

Anyway, age really is no barrier, and a senior citizen should have ample time to study an extra language, right? Wrong! Just like at any other time in one’s life, time is a commodity fought over by so many different interests that it always boils down to individual choices. So, do you – or do you not – want to order that cup of coffee in lingua regionis? :)

Polyglots on YouTube

YouTubeThere are dozens of good videos about polyglotism on YouTube. Here is one of them – probably the most widely seen, made by 16-year-old Tim from New York. No way anyone needs to learn 20 languages, but this is just to show how it is done. You read books, you go to courses, you watch movies, you travel and study abroad – and you talk to people, wherever you are! It is a fun video to watch, and makes you kind of wonder how many languages the now 19-year-old Tim speaks – or how well he speaks them. But what is especially relevant is the enthusiasm and curiosity that a polyglot has. There really are no limits to how much you want to learn, and the only real pitfall might be that you mix grammar – and yes, words – of the different languages. But here is Tim:

Let’s Get Going

TrackSo enough said about  what this site is about. Here’s what you can expect to get here. I will be posting on a regular basis samples of the Mercury Dictionary that I mentioned before. These samples connect with the topic in question. For example, if we talk about hunger, there will be words and sentences that have something to do with hunger – in as many languages as possible (IAMLAP). The IAMLAP is of course an acronym for in as many languages as possible, but it could also represent the fact that wherever you go, you are always going to come back to – yourself. After another knowledge gathering trip of yours!

There will also be lots of links, many of them leading to Wikipedia – that great free encyclopedia! Most of these Wiki links are to the English pages, but whenever preferable, another language is used.

The language order of the Mercury Dictionary is seen below. English first, but then generally from north towards south, and from west towards east. Except for English, the abbreviations are those used in the IIAF listings for member countries.


So to the sample! Let’s talk about mother. Once in a while (like here) even some additional languages are included.

mother(Eng) äiti(Fin) ema(Est) mor/moder(Swe) moder(Dan) mor(Nor) móðir(f)(Isl) Mutter(f)(Ger) mère(f)(Fra) mãe(f)(Por) madre(f)(Spa) madre(f)(Ita) mater(f)(Lat) μητέρα(f)(Gre) мать(f)(Rus) mama(Swa) haha-oya(Jpn) 母親 = ははおや – anya(Hung) – anne(Turk) – oum(Arab) – Em(Hebr)

GoogleDriveLogo2014In Google Drive where I mainly work on this dictionary, all of the languages are color coded for easy reference. I will be explaining about that later. Anyway, your email address is all that is needed to be able to access any of these updateable files (there are quite a few of them!) in Google Drive! The above sample is really just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the dictionary.

Another thing that I wanted to mention here is that this site will be a lot about travelling. Naturally, languages and travelling do go hand in hand! And of course, wherever you go, you as a true cosmopolitan need to learn some of the language spoken in the country of your choice. The travel sites will be a mishmash of English and that other language! Starting next week from Berlin!

Native or Non-Native

2YearOldLong time before we turn two – the age by which most of us learn to form our first full sentences – we have learned the melody of our mother tongue. We kind of know what to expect to learn, we have ready-made holes and gaps in our minds to fill with words, sentences, connections. Even our tongue is ready to adapt the mother(‘s) tongue, the native language, and bring the pronunciation of each word and phrase to perfection. We breath the language, we savor words, and we play with them in order to see whether we can be misunderstood – and then understood again, hah!

But by the time we reach twenty, most of us have lost a lot of that linguistic impressionability. We look at languages from the outside like at any other subject that we learn at school – a thing to learn by heart, a thing to memorize. Instead of savoring the words, feeling them in our mouths, at the tip of our tongue, as extensions of ourselves.

The aim of this site is to encourage you to have that childlike approach to any language. To discard of any preconceived notions about the possible difficulties you may encounter with any particular foreign language, but to dive head on into the rhythm and melody of it.

I’ll tell yoDanishFlagu a short story to illustrate the importance of this sort of approach. I was studying Danish at the University of Helsinki. Despite the professor admonishing us all to refrain from approaching the Danish language from its likeness to Swedish, it was such an easy thing to do – for the written Danish is so similar! But at least one of us heard him right: she seemed to forget all about knowing one single word of Swedish, and only had Danish in her mind – and on her tongue. She learned to speak the language better than any of us in just a short time! Sure, we didn’t understand everything she was saying, but heck, who understands Danish – except the Danes of course! But she sounded just like a Dane, and the professor understood her! Way to go!

And no, it wasn’t me! I also took that typical scholastic approach: had lots of words at my disposal, but no nimble, unprejudiced tongue to utter them with! Yes, sometimes it has to do with the teacher. But the thing is: we are our own teachers – the teacher is there just to guide us towards the right direction! We need to trust our instincts, listen to ourselves, taste the words at the tip of our tongue. Not go to the extremes of a one-year old who wants to find out about things by the tactile approach. But have some of that innocence of a toddler who just wants to know first hand!


BridgeConstructorHi there! If you are new to this site, let me tell you in a few words what it is all about. Simply put, it is a mishmash. Of languages. English is the main language here – for obvious reasons – but otherwise, anything goes! You are bound to be confused at times, but bear with me. You are meant to get confused! You are meant to get so relaxed about languages, that you will welcome any chance of coherence. And coherence there will be, lots of it. Both guttural and cultural. No man is an island, and neither is a language. There are bridges to cross here, connections to be made, and all will lead to greater understanding. So free your mind, and free your tongue! If you are a polyglot, you most probably are pretty free already. But since this site is not only for polyglots, but the aspiring ones, let’s start with the basics. The tongue. That’s the topic for the next post – soon to follow.