Archive for the Category: Scottish Gaelic

Multilingual Britain

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Kerstin Cable about the languages of the British Isles for the The Creative Language Learning Podcast, which she makes with Lindsey Dow of Lindsey Does Languages. The podcast is now online as The Secret Languages of Great Britain. In the podcast we talk about the indigenous languages […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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French and potatoes

I came across an interesting phrase in Scottish Gaelic today: Ith do bhuntàta beag mus dig na Frangaich!, which means “eat your small potatoes before the French come!” and it is apparently said to children picking at their food to encourage them to eat up [source]. Are there similar phrases in other languages, perhaps used […]

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Multilingual musicians

A Sardinian friend of mine, Elena Piras, knows six languages (Sardinian, Italian, English, Scottish Gaelic, French and Spanish) and sings in most of them, plus a few others, including Scots, Bulgarian and Georgian. Here’s a recording of a performance from earlier this year in which she sings in Sardinian, Scots, English, Scottish Gaelic and Bulgarian. […]

Also posted in Bulgarian, English, French, Georgian, Italian, Language, Music, Pronunciation, Sardinian, Scots, Songs, Spanish 2 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 […]

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Custard sandwiches and pancakes

The Welsh word for sandwich is brechdan [ˈbrɛxdan], which comes from the Irish word brechtán (butter, fat), according to the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. However according to MacBain’s Dictionary, is related to the Scottish Gaelic word for pancake, breacag, which is related to breachdan (custard), which comes from the Middle Irish breachtán (a roll), which is […]

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Sgimilearachd

Sgimilearachd [sgʲimɪlɛrəxg], noun = habit of visiting other people at mealtime; intrusion (from: Am Faclair Beag) Alternative definition: Obtrusiveness, impudence, intrusion; Mean habit of popping in upon people at meals, living and doing nothing about, gentlemen’s kitchens. (from: Am Faclair Dwelly) This is one of the interesting Scottish Gaelic words I learnt from this blog […]

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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 […]

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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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