Archive for the Category: English

A difficult language?

Quite a few people I’ve talked to here in Glencolmcille have told me that Irish is a difficult language. This got me thinking about what makes a language difficult to learn. Here are some aspects of Irish that learners may find difficult: Spelling and Pronunciation Irish spelling takes quite a while to get used to. […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Linguistic adventures

This week I have been speaking quite a bit of Irish. Even though I rarely speak it at home, it is usually there when I need it. When trying to understand songs or poems in Irish, I realise that there are plenty of gaps in my vocabulary, but I can at least get the gist […]

Also posted in Finnish, German, Irish, Language, Music, Poetry, Russian, Songs, Travel 4 Comments

Turrys foddey / Turas fada / A Long Journey

Last night I arrived safely in Glencolmcille in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. I left Peel at 8am, went by bus to Ronaldsway airport, flew to Dublin, then took buses all the way to Glencolmcille, arriving just before 8pm, so it took nearly 12 hours. I met people I know from previous visits to […]

Also posted in French, German, Irish, Language, Manx, Romanian, Russian, Travel, Welsh Leave a comment

Celtic conversations

This week I’ve had quite a few conversations in Manx. I only speak it when I come to the Isle of Man, and when I meet Manx learners at polyglot events. At the beginning of the week my Manx was decidedly rusty, but it’s starting to flow now. When I don’t know a word or […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh Leave a comment

Who are the Celts?

This week I am in the Isle of Man for the CeltFest, a festival of Manx and Celtic music and culture. There are lunchtime concerts every day at the Noa bakehouse in Douglas, and concerts and other events every night in Peel. Last night I went to a fascinating talk by Alice Roberts, an anatomist, […]

Also posted in Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European 1 Comment

How many Chinese characters/words do you need to know?

One thing Chinese learners often ask about is how many characters they need to know in order to read Chinese. In a new article I was sent today, there’s some discussion about how many Chinese characters and words you need to know. I decided to check to details provided by the writer, and re-wrote this […]

Also posted in Chinese, Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Colombian Slang

This is a guest post by Nate Alger Have you ever been to Colombia? If not, you are missing out on one of the best kept secrets in Latin America. It is a country filled with life, lots of culture, and great food to eat! It’s the place that I have called home for the […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning, Spanish, Words and phrases Leave a comment


I came across a new word on Instagram today – shelfie, a portmanteau of shelf and selfie meaning, according to Wiktionary, “a photograph of a bookshelf/bookcase taken by its owner and shared on social media.” The context I saw the word was even more specific – language shelfies, i.e. a photo of a bookshelf containing […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Gaelic hills

I’m currently reading an interesting book – Uncommon Ground – A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape by Dominick Tyler. One thing I’ve learnt from it, is that there are quite a few words in Scottish Gaelic related to hills and mountains: Beinn [beiɲ / beɲə] = mountain, mount; high hill, pinnacle; head, top, high […]

Also posted in Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 3 Comments

In a jiffy

A jiffy is very short, unspecified length of time. For example, “I’ll be back in a jiffy”. It can refer to more precise units of time, and was first defined by Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875–1946) as the time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (about 33.3564 picoseconds). Other definitions are available. […]

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