Friday, April 21, 2017

Please don't be shocked! from Charlotte

Dear Word Spy,

I was reading a freaky fact book and found the contents page. One particular chapter I came across was the weird words. There, I finally stumbled upon my favourite word!
Please don't be shocked (it is the longest word in the English language):

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

(pronounced noo-mono-ultra-micro-scopic-silico-volcano-conio-sis)

Dear Charlotte,

Well I am SHOCKED!  And if you spies are shocked too, have a look at this video to hear someone saying it:


 And wait, here's a song all about it!  Which also tells you what it actually means...



Wonderful spying, Charlotte - one might even say:


Yours, still humming, The Word Spy

Monday, March 27, 2017

Learn to SPEAK Latin camp? Ita vero!



Dear Spies,
Image result for speaking latin

I alas am too old for this (and also I don't live in the USA) - but what a truly wonderful idea. An immersion camp for high school Latin students where you actually learn to SPEAK the language,not just read it!  http://www.latinperdiem.com/tusculum17/ 


Camp activities will include:
  1. Reading and discussing in Latin a wide variety of authors from all eras of the language
  2. Sharing meals, games, athletics, and campfires all in Latin
  3. Recitations, competitions, dramatic interpretations, and lots of hilarity in Latin
  4. The formation of abiding, literary friendships with other young people your own age who are learning Latin and loving the humanities

Sigh. O quam felices sunt illos iuvenes!!!  (Visne mihi dare salem?)

yours, jealously, 

Explorator Verborum

Monday, February 27, 2017

"Greek like that will surely come my way, hey hey hey hey"

Dear Spies,

You have to hand it to these students of Koine Greek (Greek that was spoken from about 300 BC -300 AD) - they will do anything to learn their verbs! Singing, dancing, climbing trees, making shapes of letters with their bodies - you have to see it to believe it.


video

Saturday, February 25, 2017

No entiendo, said the parrot

A grey parrot, similar to Nigel, who was returned to his owner speaking a different language


Dear me!  I think this might be an avian word spy....

British parrot missing for four years returns speaking Spanish British owner reunited with lost bird only to find he doesn't speak English any more

Dictation, dictation, dictation!

Dear Spies,

Well, the things people used to get up to for fun ...

In 1857 the French writer Prosper Merrimé was asked to produce a REALLY hard dictation to entertain the French court. And it really was hard!

So hard that the emperor Napoleon III made 75 mistakes, his wife Eugenie made 62 mistakes (she was Spanish after all),the writer Alexandre Dumas made 25 mistakes- and the Austrian ambassador Metternich only made THREE mistakes! (Gold star for him I think.)  If you click on the video, you can hear the dictation read out loud. And underneath the words are written out in French, followed by a translation in English. You will see it is quite a crazy story!



"Pour parler sans ambiguïté, ce dîner à Sainte-Adresse, près du Havre, malgré les effluves embaumés de la mer, malgré les vins de très bons crus, les cuisseaux de veau et les cuissots de chevreuil prodigués par l'amphitryon, fut un vrai guêpier. 
Quelles que soient et quelqu'exiguës qu'aient pu paraître, à côté de la somme due, les arrhes qu'étaient censés avoir données la douairière et le marguillier, il était infâme d'en vouloir pour cela à ces fusiliers jumeaux et mal bâtis et de leur infliger une raclée alors qu'ils ne songeaient qu'à prendre des rafraîchissements avec leurs coreligionnaires. Quoi qu'il en soit, c'est bien à tort que la douairière, par un contresens exorbitant, s'est laissé entraîner à prendre un râteau et qu'elle s'est crue obligée de frapper l'exigeant marguillier sur son omoplate vieillie. Deux alvéoles furent brisés, une dysenterie se déclara, suivie d'une phtisie. — Par saint Martin, quelle hémorragie, s'écria ce bélître ! À cet événement, saisissant son goupillon, ridicule excédent de bagage, il la poursuivit dans l'église tout entière."

"To speak plainly, this dinner at Sainte-Adresse, near the Havre, - despite the balmy scents of the sea, despite the very good vintage wines, the veal thighs and the rump of venison provided by the host - was a real hornet’s nest. 
Whatever may or may not have been the case, in comparison with the money owed, the down payment which the dowager and the church warden were supposed to have given, it was vile to blame it on this pair of puny fusiliers, and to inflict on them a beating when they were thinking of nothing more than taking some refreshments with their coreligionists. Whatever the case may be, it was quite wrong that the dowager, through an outrageous misunderstanding, was led to seize a rake and hit the churchwarden on his elderly shoulder blade. Two lungs were smashed, dysentery broke out, followed by tuberculosis. “By Saint Martin, what a haemorrhage!” exclaimed this good-for-nothing. Upon which, seizing his bottlebrush, a ridiculous and excessive contraption, he chased her through the entire church."

More soon on the subject of dictation, my spies.

Yours, dictatorially, the Word Spy

Monday, February 13, 2017

Алфавит! (I mean ALPHABET!)

Dear Spies,

Well if you've mastered the Greek alphabet through a cow bell song (see last post) now you can move onto the Russian alphabet with the help of another very catchy tune!






And to hear the same tune sung in a different language altogether - who can tell me what it is? 









I just can't stop singing

yours, with a tralala - 

The  Слово  шпион



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Alpha beta gamma delta ep-si-lon - la la la!

Dear Spies,

Have you ever wanted to learn the ancient Greek alphabet? Here's a video to help you - complete with cow bell!



Happy singing! from ...
η λέξη κατάσκοπος

Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to speak to your rabbit




Dear Spies, 

Ever wondered what language rabbits speak?

The writer, Richard Adams, who wrote the bestselling novel of rabbit life, "Watership Down"  had a few ideas about what rabbits might have to say. He called the language "Lapine." You can read some of the words here:

http://www.cs.ulm.edu/~pdw/rabbit/lapine.html

Of course, if you've ever spent any time with a rabbit, you will have noticed they are rather silent animals. But I'm sure they understand each other!

Till next time, frithath!

The Word Spy

Friday, February 10, 2017

I've got an apple to peel with you...

Dear Spies, 

In the link below there is a list of expressions from languages and countries around the work, using different foods to express all sorts of different things.  


http://chocolateandzucchini.com/series/french-idioms/around-the-world-food-expressions/


I wonder if you know any other expressions using food that you could add to the list?


Yours, fruitily,

The Word Spy

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rebus code?? from Sara

Hi Word Spy, 

I'm very stuck on one of the codes in your first book the word spy. chapter six with the Rebus codes!!

from Sara

Hello Sara, 

Sorry you are stuck. Hmm. Let's see. 

For the   U  R  A  try saying the letters out loud and listen to what words they sound like.

And then there's a list of the word "secret" and the little arrow is pointing to the top one. 

Can you work it out now?

Let me know if you are still having trouble!

BTW I bet U R A great word spy!

yours every playfully, the Word Spy

Monday, August 22, 2016

Guinea pig latin? from a fellow word spy

Dear Word Spy,


I-ay ove-lay ig-pay atin-lay! 

However, I have one desperate cry for help. 

How do you speak guinea pig latin????????????? 

From a fellow word spy



Ear-diggle Ellow-figgle ord-wiggle py-spiggle!

Thank you for your message! ah, guinea pig latin - truly a wonderful and strange form of communication, common amongst CERTAIN types of guinea pigs. Have you read a book called The Crytpic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta: The Perplexing Pineapple?  The secrets of guinea pig latin are explained inside ...

But in the meantime, I-iggle et-biggle ou-yiggle an-ciggle ork-wiggle it-iggle out-iggle or-figgle ourself-yiggle.....

Yours squeakingly,

The Word Spy

Sunday, July 17, 2016





Dear Word Spies,

I wonder if you can work out the titles of  books using these emoji puzzles at this link:


https://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/the-old-man-and-the-emoji?utm_term=.hcYwALRpl#.eq3oqnyX0

I think some of them work better than others but they are all fun! I wonder - maybe you can make up some yourself? I would love to see them if you do. 

Yours pictorially, symbolically and very sincerely, the Word Spy



PS  The two on this page are:

The Sound and the Fury (by William Faulkner)
Of Mice and Men (by John Steinbeck)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

shiaHn pohem! from Harriffan


Attention Word Spies  - an amazing missive from Harrifan.....


Ursula Dubosarsky waq,

shiaHn pohem yiu, traj!

wir drak.

yupa,

Harriffan Conshertini, kijn wozo (|||-) fak

English Translation:

Dear Ursula Dubosarsky,

Thank you for the previous praise!

Hear from you soon.

Signed,

Harriffan Conshertini, age 14

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Invented language for subterranean aliens... from Harri

Dear Word Spy,

I was reading your Word Spy books, and was inspired by the sections on invented languages.

I have a few characters that I sometimes write stories for, and I'm into Klingon, so here it is so far!

(N.B. this language is spoken by aliens from subterranean cities on the dwarf planet Eris)

Know thyself, and pokata!
- Harriffan Conshertini

Ro-noni Language

Hello = kata
Goodbye = pokata
Please = ruwiH
Go! = wa-ya!
Eris = ro-no
Home = no
World = ro
Prefix that changes a word’s meaning to its opposite = po-
Call the police! = faHn ui yon! (Lit. summon nearby patrol officers!)
Call = yon
Patol Officers = faHn
Near, close, nearby = ui
Suffix that changes a word to a plural = -n
Earth = ro-apel
Apple (company) = apel
Zero, nothing, none = click of the tongue
One = to
Two = jo
Three = yo
Four = zo
Five = po
Six = do
Seven = cho
Eight = ko
Nine = lo
Ten = wo
Eleven = ho
20 = jowo
30 = yowo
40 = zowo
50 = powo
60 = dowo
70 = chowo
80 = kowo
90 = lowo
100 = wowo
200 = ja
300 = ya
Where is = paHn
Bathroom = ka-pe
Where is the bathroom? = ka-pe ui paHn? (Lit. where is a  nearby bathroom?)
Daughter = ma’ee
Dysnomia (moon of Eris) = ma’eena ro-no (Lit. daughter of home-world)
Suffix that indicates possession = -na
Son – ko’po (if another moon of Eris is ever discovered, it will be called ko’po ro-no (son of home-world)

If there is an apostrophe in the middle of a word, as in ko’po, if there is an o at the end, it is pronounced like off. If there is no o at the end, it is just to help you differentiate the sounds of Ro-noni Language

Hello = kata
Goodbye = pokata
Please = ruwiH
Go! = wa-ya!
Eris = ro-no
Home = no
World = ro
Prefix that changes a word’s meaning to its opposite = po-
Call the police! = faHn ui yon! (Lit. summon nearby patrol officers!)
Call = yon
Patol Officers = faHn
Near, close, nearby = ui
Suffix that changes a word to a plural = -n
Earth = ro-apel
Apple (company) = apel
Zero, nothing, none = click of the tongue
One = to
Two = jo
Three = yo
Four = zo
Five = po
Six = do
Seven = cho
Eight = ko
Nine = lo
Ten = wo
Eleven = ho
20 = jowo
30 = yowo
40 = zowo
50 = powo
60 = dowo
70 = chowo
80 = kowo
90 = lowo
100 = wowo
200 = ja
300 = ya
Where is = paHn
Bathroom = ka-pe
Where is the bathroom? = ka-pe ui paHn? (Lit. where is a  nearby bathroom?)
Daughter = ma’ee
Dysnomia (moon of Eris) = ma’eena ro-no (Lit. daughter of home-world)
Suffix that indicates possession = -na
Son – ko’po (if another moon of Eris is ever discovered, it will be called ko’po ro-no (son of home-world)

If there is an apostrophe in the middle of a word, as in ko’po, if there is an o at the end, it is pronounced like off. If there is no o at the end, it is just to help you differentiate the sounds of the word.


 KATA HARRI,

This is wonderful - in fact WOWO times wonderful!!!!!
I especially love (for some reason) the way zero is a click of the tongue. And I love the use of the apostrophe - and the prefixes and suffixes. This is truly the production of a brilliant Word Spy....

Wa-ya Harri! More ruwiH!!!!

Pokata till next time,

The Word Spy

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A cry for help! from a fellow word snoop

Dear Word Snoop,


Chapter 4 is a little hard. I just can't get REAE in the lipogram. The rest looks like it is AND DASTARLY CODES. I could really use some help on this,snooping is exactly what I love to do! But this one is a trickster. I love your book so far, and I hope I can get some help.

Thank you so much,
Your fellow word snoop
Post Scriptum (PS): I love your book so much, I hope there's a second one! 


(Post) Post Scriptum, (get it?) ;)
What is your favorite type of punctuation? 



Dear Fellow Word Snoop, (ah that makes me happy to write those words!)

So glad to hear from you. And to hear that you have enjoyed the book.

NOW  on that code...

Remember it's at the end of a chapter that deals with LIPOGRAMS - you know, when you leave a letter out of a word, or a sentence (or even a whole book!)

Have a look at the sentence here. I have turned it into a LIPOGRAM on P  (which means I have left out the letter P):

Remember it's at the end of a chater that deals with LIOGRAMS

And now look at the same sentence with the letter E left out:

Rmmbr it's at th nd of a chaptr that dals with LIPOGRAMS.

So now, going back to the code, to solve it you have to work out which letter of the alphabet has been left out. (I have put some little lines in to show you where the missing letters should be.) 

             -REA-E-    AN-   - ASTER-LY CO-ES


A good way to start to work out a lipogram code is just to go through the alphabet. Try putting an A in the place of the missing letters of the first word:  

                         AREAAEA 

Hmm. That's not a word. Let's try B: 

                         BREABEB

Not a word either... But keep going like that - it won't take you long to work it out. Let me know how you go!!

Till next time, 

You-  f-iend, the Wo-d Snoop

POST SCRIPTUM  There is a second book - and even a third. The second one is called "The Return of the Word Spy" and the third one is called  "The Word Spy's Activity Book"

POST POST SCRIPTUM  Hmm I wonder if you can work out my favourite punctuation mark??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A cry for help! from Anonymous



Dear Word Spy,

In "The Return of the Word Spy"I know about the turtle and the horse but I can't find out what the rebus means. HELP!!!! please tell me how to find it out!


I have tried finding out what it might mean but I Keep thinking that it is a fan moth but when I put that in it doesn't work right.

Thankyou,

Anonymous


Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your message! I'm sorry you've been having trouble with the rebus. Let's see if I can help.

In a rebus puzzle, pictures are used instead of some letters.  So already you are on the way to solving it - as you said, it is a picture of a fan. 

But look at what comes just before the picture of the fan -  the letter K and then the letter F crossed out. That means you take off the letter F from the word fan, and replace the letter K.  So instead of FAN you have - that's right, KAN!

That's the beginning of the word. Then you have the letters GAR. So that bit is easy. That's the middle of the word. 

Then you have another picture, this time of the MOON, with the letter M and N crossed out. So the letters that finish the word are OO.

Hmm, I bet your brain is really hopping now!

yours, marsupially, The Word Spy

                             
 
                                 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hats off!

Well my spies, I don't know if you speak (or write!) French, but the Academie Francaise, who are in charge of this sort of thing in France, have decided that some of the little signs you put above letters when you write them are to be SUPPRESSED!!!!  read more at the link below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/french-spelling-reforme-orthographe-je-suis-circonflexe-1.3433227

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

@#&(*&)*&#)@(#*&!*#!&^*????????

Dear word spies,

Look at this wonderful ancient writing! It is on the Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.The writing is hieroglyphs, the writing of the ancient Egyptians. The obelisk is about 3000 years old and used to stand at the temple of Luxor in Egypt. 

What does it say? Sadly, the Word Spy only attended ONE hieroglyphs class when she was at university. Sigh... a lost opportunity. But perhaps one day YOU will learn how to read hieroglyphs and be able to translate it for the rest of us. 

(Apparently it says lots of things about how marvelous the Pharaoh, Ramses II, was.) 



Saturday, January 30, 2016

"A E I O U" tralalalalalalalal!!!!


The Song of the Vowels restaurant in Paris. Named after the French poet Arthur Rimbaud's poem - click here to read it!

I've finally done it!! from James H

Dear Word Spy,

After a couple of years I finally decided to figure out what the codes, in your first book, mean. It took me a little while to get them and I even had to do some spying around to figure it out and i got it! The sentence is;

(SUPPRESSED BY THE WORD SPY MEANWHILE SO THAT OTHER WORD SPIES CAN WORK IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES, BUT JAMES YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!)

 I've also read your second book and now it is time to crack its codes as well.

Lots of thanks for teaching me so much about words, it has helped me in my English classes a bit. (I even needed to study this book for school!)

Well I better get back to my spying.

James H

Dear James,

This is such a great message for me to receive!  full of great news from one of my spies.  So glad you've enjoyed the book and what's more CRACKED THE CODE. (I must get to work on another code for you - watch this space - well, this blog)

Keep on spying....

from our-yay  impressed-ay al-pay,

Why Stop Red

(why indeed?)


An animal - or...? from Unknown


Gd'day Word Spy,I just wanted to ask for a little help in solving the rebus in your second book.Apart from knowing that it's an animal, I'm clueless. 


from Unknown


Dear Unknown,

(Good to know someone else whose name begins with U!)

Thanks for your message - I'm on the road but more soon!

yours, the (Unknowing) Word Spy

Banana or Banana? (or let's settle for a mango!)

The quirks of pronunciation

A clean sweep? especially for French-speaking Word Spies

Here's a French rebus spotted in a market at the Avenue du President Wilson that's a bit easier! 

Where does that word come from? Nobody knows... yet!

Some words are just TOO mysterious, even for Word Spies!


http://mentalfloss.com/article/71161/15-basic-words-are-etymological-mysteries

Friday, November 20, 2015

Trés curieux! from La Word Spy


Dear Spies and Snoops,

I wonder if any of you can speak French?  Because the Word Spy found this very puzzling rebus puzzle in the window of a hairdresser in Paris,  offering 20 per cent off the next hair cut to anyone who can work out what it means!  

A rebus puzzle is one that uses pictures to show the sounds of words. To work this puzzle out you will have to know French pretty well.  To start you off, have a look at the first picture. It is of a glass of milk. Now in French, the word for milk is "lait" which is pronounced "lay".  Another word in French which is pronounced "lay" is "les" which is the word for "the". Hmm, so I think the first word of this puzzle is PROBABLY  "les".

But then again - maybe not. Look at the next picture. It is a person with a question mark. So probably the French word for "who" - "qui" pronounced "kee". It is followed as you see by the letter "p".  So perhaps it is "l'équipe", which is French for "the team" pronounced "laykeep"...


Phew - this is exhausting - and only one word!  I wonder, can you help me?

Ton amie, la Word Spy


Mysteriously unknown words from the Word Spy

Dear Spies and Snoops,

We all love finding out where words come from  - well I know I do!  

But in fact, there are some words that NOBODY knows where they come from... How very STRANGE.

Some of them are very common words too - have a look at this fascinating link.


http://mentalfloss.com/article/71161/15-basic-words-are-etymological-mysteries

Dog, bad, big, girl, boy, donkey, bird, surf, fuss, blight, log, tantrum, toad, curse, kick - nobody knows where these words came from!

Hmm - I know. Why don't you spies and snoops out there write me a story using all these mysterious ones - in one VERY mysterious adventure?

I can't wait to read what you come up with...

yours, unknown, The Word Spy (aka the Word Snoop)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

La réponse?

Chers espions et fouiners.....


Here is the answer to yesterday's (or was it the day before?) seventeenth century French code. 

In French it means:

 JE SENS QUE JE NE CESSERAI JAMAIS DE T'AIMER 

Aha!

(what's that in English?? I'll tell you tomorrow)

A bientôt!

L'espion des mots.....


Sunday, October 25, 2015

CENTURIES OLD SECRET CODE!!!!



Dear Spies and Snoops,

Well this is a real challenge! Look what the Word Spy found yesterday in the National Archives in Paris. 


A love letter in code from 1783  - from an unknown young woman to her cousin Pierre (who sadly died in a duel a few years later).

She wrote in code to keep her love a secret. If you look closely, you will see some of the letter are replaced with numbers.

Have a close look at the last two lines. 

32 S28S Q52 32 C2SS2R13 316113S D2  T1362R

Hem, one problem. She wrote in FRENCH. So you will need to know French to work out the code.

Hint - the word "JE" means "I".  In the letter, "JE" is "32"

I'll tell you the answer tomorrow!

yours 2085   2315184   191625 .....