Archive for the Category: English

Throats and trees

One Scottish Gaelic expression I learnt last week was “Tha craobh air mo sgòrnan” or literally “There’s a tree on my throat”. This is the Gaelic equivalent of “There’s a frog in my throat”, which is used when you are rendered temporarily speechless due to a small amphibian taking up residence in your oesophagus, or […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

Also posted in French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Language, Language learning, Music, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Songs, Spanish, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Scatting

Last night I saw an excellent group called Rag Mama, a duo from England who live in France and play American music, particularly blues and jazz. One of the songs they sang was Cab Calloway’s Minie the Moocher, which includes some scat singing in the chorus. Wikipedia defines scat singing as “vocal improvisation with wordless […]

Also posted in Language, Music, Songs 4 Comments

Which are the most learned languages?

When up-dating the Which language should I learn? page on Omniglot this week I decided to try and find out not only which languages have the most speakers, and also which ones have the most learners. The top ten languages in terms of overall number of native (L1) and second language (L2) speakers are: Language […]

Also posted in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Language, Language learning Leave a comment

Danish please

The other day I received an email about how you say, or rather don’t say, please in Danish. The translation I had on my Danish phrases page was Vær så venlig, which apparently is only used to hurry people up, or urge them to do something in a passive-aggressive way. When making a request, for […]

Also posted in Danish, Language 2 Comments

Šup!

Last week I learnt a useful Czech word – Šup! – which can mean Whoosh!, Go!, Move!, Hurry up! and similar, and Šup šup! means Chop-chop! A more polite way to say the same thing is pojďme, which literally means “Let’s (do something)”. Here are some examples of usage: – Pojďme na procházku = Let’s […]

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

Embracing the other

People who enjoy learning languages, travelling, learning about different cultures and/or meeting people from different countries tend to be more open to difference, and more tolerant. At least that is my experience. While other people might be more inclined to fear the different and the foreign. In UK schools the most widely-taught languages are French, […]

Also posted in French, German, Language, Language learning, Spanish 3 Comments

Elephant flies

An interesting Dutch idiom I came across today is van een vlieg een olifant maken or “to make an elephant out of a fly”, which is the Dutch equivalent of the English idiom to make a mountain out of a molehill. This comes from a post on the blog Stuff Dutch People Like. Other idioms […]

Also posted in Dutch, Idioms, Language 1 Comment

The future of language learning

A new article on Omniglot discusses the future of language learning. The writer (not me) suggests that improvements in technology will soon make it possible to use machine translation in everyday situations and as a result, learning languages will become unnecessary and something people do for mainly as a hobby. I don’t really agree with […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning 7 Comments

Llongrats!

In the comments on an article about Welsh literature I read today, I came across the word llongrats!, which appears to be a Welsh-English hybrid combining the Welsh word llongyfarchiadau and it’s English equivalent, congratulations. While it’s common for bilingual people to switch languages, often in mid-sentence, this is the first example I’ve seen of […]

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