Archive for the Category: English

Cruite, cláirseacha a chrythau

I discovered last week in Ireland that one word for the harp in Irish is cruit [krutʲ], which sounds similar to the Welsh word crwth [kruːθ], a type of bowed lyre that was once popular in Wales and in other parts of Europe, but which was largely displayed by the fiddle during the 18th century. […]

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Oideas Gael

I’m having a wonderful time in Gleann Cholm Cille learning to play the harp and speaking plenty of Irish. The course is going really well – we started with basic techniques, and have learnt a number of tunes, including some from the Bóroimhe / Brian Boru suite by Michael Rooney. I’ve videoed our teacher, Oisín […]

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Gleann Cholm Cille

Tomorrow I’m off to Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland to do a course in harp playing. This will be the tenth time I’ve been there, though the first time I’ve done the harp course. Normally I go for a summer school in Irish language and culture […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Music, Travel 1 Comment

Ultracrepidarianism

Are you an ultracrepidiarianist? Or maybe that should be ultracrepidiarian. Many of us are. An ultracrepidarianism is someone who makes a habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside their knowledge or competence. It’s a word I came across in Think Like a Freak, and interesting book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Les coups de glotte and other coups

Yesterday I discovered that the French for glottal stop is coup de glotte (“blow of the glottis”). The word coup (blow, shot, stroke, wave, kick, punch, move) appears in many other expressions, including: – (donner un) coup de balai = (to) sweep; shake up – coup de vent = blow of wind – coup de […]

Also posted in Etymology, French, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Changing accents

I heard an interesting discussion on Radio Cymru recently about accents. They talked about Welsh, and English, regional accents that have negative associations for people from other regions, or that people find difficult to follow, and whether they would change their accent to make it easier for others to understand them, and/or to avoid the […]

Also posted in Language, Pronunciation, Welsh 8 Comments

Gabions and the importance of names

The other day I discovered that the name for those wire cages filled with rocks used in construction and to stabilise river banks, hillsides and shorelines are called gabions. The word comes from the Italian gabbione (big cage), which comes from the Latin cavea (cage). There are plenty of gabions around here, but I didn’t […]

Also posted in Etymology, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Novi Sad

As I’m going to the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad (Нови Сад) [nôʋiː sâːd] in October, I thought I should find out what Novi Sad actually means – it’s the kind of thing I like to know. I guessed that Novi probably means new, but had no idea what Sad might mean. According to this […]

Also posted in Czech, Etymology, Language, Latin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Extreme Polyglottery

The Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last week was fantastic and I enjoyed everything about it. The organizers did an excellent job and everything went well, with only minor hitches. Many other people helped things to run smoothly, and gave talks and/or arranged discussions and language practise sessions. Venue The venue was a huge hostel/hotel near […]

Also posted in Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Endangered languages, Esperanto, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Language, Manx, Polish, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Swedish, Taiwanese, Turkish, Welsh 3 Comments

Berlin

I’m having a wonderful time at the Polyglot Gathering. My luggage arrived, finally, and I’ve been speaking even more languages, including Cantonese, Taiwanese, Irish, Japanese, Czech, Russian and Turkish (a few words only). I haven’t found any speakers of Breton, Manx or Scottish Gaelic yet though. I have been to some very interesting lectures and […]

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