Archive for the Category: English

Súilíní

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, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Norwegian, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Swedish, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments

The Bold Step

In Hiberno-English (the English spoken in Ireland), children who misbehave are told not to be bold and might be sent to the bold step. I heard this expression being used the other day and it stuck in my mind as I hadn’t heard it before. In the UK the equivalents are usually naughty and naughty […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 3 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, French, German, Irish, Language, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Travel 1 Comment

Typophilia

Whenever I see a well-written text with a good layout, it really appeals to me and I find myself staring at it and admiring it. I also admire particularly well-made fonts, and beautiful handwriting and calligraphy. On the other hand, texts can be marred for me by a poor choice of font and/or layout, and […]

Also posted in Language, Writing 1 Comment

What’s in a name?

The other day I received an email with some corrections to my Scots phrases page. One thing the writer objected strongly to was the use of the name Scots for the language/dialect in question. He believes it should be called Scottish, and that nobody calls it Scots. My understanding is that three main languages are […]

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Manywhere

In the Russian lesson I worked on today there was an interesting expression – много где (mnogo gde) – which is a colloquial way of saying “many places” or “lots of places”, and literally means “many where”. It’s used in the following context: – где ты был, кроме России? (gde ty byl, krome Rossii?) where […]

Also posted in Language, Russian, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Coasts and competitors

Sometimes when I see new words in English or other languages I can immediately break them down into their component parts and work out their roots, but other times I just accept words as whole entities without trying to work out their derivation. One such word in Welsh is arfordir, which I hadn’t tried to […]

Also posted in Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Marmosets, cheese and gargoyles

When French-speaking photographers want people to smile, they might say Le petit oiseau va sortir (The little bird is going to come out) or Souriez! (smile), or might ask them to say pepsi! or ouistiti! (marmoset), just as English-speaking photographer get people to smile by asking them to say “Cheese!” The word ouistiti [ˈwistiti] means […]

Also posted in Etymology, French, Greek, Language 2 Comments

Post-vernacular languages

In an article I read today – Sustaining languages: An interview with Peter Austin, I came across an interesting idea – post-vernacular languages. A vernacular language is one you use in your everyday life, while a post-vernacular language is one you may not want to use in your daily life and as means of communication, […]

Also posted in Endangered languages, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Hmyz and Hums

I came across an interesting Czech word today – hmyz, which means “insect, ant, bug, creepy-crawly”. It appears in my Czech phrasebook in the sentence, “V našem pokoji je hmyz” (There are insects in our room). It sounds like the sounds insects make, but there are other words for hum in Czech – bzučet, vrčet, […]

Also posted in Czech, Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment
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