Archive for the Category: German


Recently I was sent a link to an infographic containing some apparently untranslatable words for love, and this got me wondering if there really is such a thing as an ‘untranslatable’ word or concept. The words featured in lists of ‘untranslatable’ words are often given poetic-sounding meanings, and other more ordinary and common meanings they […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Translation, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Polyglot Conference, New York

This weekend I am in New York for the 2015 Polyglot Conference. I arrived yesterday afternoon after an uneventful flight from Manchester. It took a couple of hours to get out of the airport, and another hour or so to Manhattan. Last night I met up with some other polyglots near the Statan Island ferry […]

Also posted in Chinese, Conlangs, English, Esperanto, French, Irish, Japanese, Language, Manx, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Taiwanese, Toki Pona, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Irish and Ndebele

Yesterday I went to Global Café, a group for international students which I’ve been going to on and off since I was a student myself. I use it as a chance to meet people and practise my languages, and I got to speak quite a few different languages last night, including Welsh, French, Irish, Mandarin, […]

Also posted in Arabic, Chinese, English, Irish, Language, Malay, Welsh 2 Comments


I discovered an interesting word in Irish yesterday – súilíní [ˈsˠuːl̪ʲiːn̪ʲiː] – which is a diminutive form of súil [sˠuːl̪ʲ] (eye) and means literally “small eyes”, and actually means eyelets, an aperture-sight, or bubbles. For example, uisce gan súilíní is still water (“water without bubbles”) [source]. More common Irish words for bubbles are bolgán and […]

Also posted in Breton, Catalan, Cornish, Danish, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Norwegian, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Swedish, Welsh, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Gleann Cholm Cille

This week and next week I am in Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolmcille) in Donegal in the north west of Ireland. I’m doing courses at Oideas Gael, an Irish language and cultural centre: a harp playing course this week, and an Irish language and culture course next week. This is my 11th visit to Gleann Cholm […]

Also posted in Czech, Dutch, English, French, Irish, Language, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Travel 1 Comment


I came across an interesting German word today – quatschen – which means to gab; to piffle; to talk rubbish; to chew the fat; to shoot the breeze; to blab; to yak; to squelch; to squidge [source]. It appears in a blog post in the sentence: Aber da fragt auf dem Gathering auch niemand mehr, […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Polyglot Gathering Berlin 2015

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin about an hour ago. I took the train all the way from Berlin to Bangor, via Cologne, Brussels, London, Crewe and Chester, leaving Berlin just before 7am this morning, and arriving in Bangor just after 9pm this evening. On the way there I also travelled by […]

Also posted in Breton, Chinese, Cornish, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Manx, Portuguese, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Sign language, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Taiwanese, Welsh 3 Comments

Blue eyes and black butter

I discovered today that the French equivalent of a black eye is un œil au beurre noir (a black butter eye). It is also known as un œil poché au beurre noir (an eye poached in black butter) or un cocard (a rosette or lesion). According to L’, the expressions containing beurre noir date from […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Carrying coals to Newcastle

An idiomatic way to say a task is pointless is to say it’s like carrying coals to Newcastle – Newcastle, in the north east of England, used to be a major coal mining area. In French the equivalent is porter de l’eau à la rivière (to carry water to the river). In German they say […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 4 Comments

One Person One Language (OPOL)

This post is based largely on an article by Francois Grosjean: One popular way to raise bilingual children is for each parent to speak only their native language with their children. For example the father will speak English and the mother will speak Spanish, and the children will acquire both languages. At first the […]

Also posted in English, French, Irish, Language, Language acquisition, Linguistics, Spanish, Welsh 5 Comments
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