Archive for the Category: French

Blackberries and Walls

The French words mur (wall) mûr (ripe; mature) and mûre (blackberry; mulberry) are written differently but pronounced the same – [myʁ], so are only distinguished by context in speech. The word mur (wall) comes from the Latin mūrus (wall), from the Old Latin *moerus/*moiros, from the Proto-Indo-European *mei (to fix, to build fortifications or fences) […]

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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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Polyglot Gathering

I arrived in Berlin yesterday for the Polyglot Gathering, which starts today. I flew here on KLM via Amsterdam, and unfortunately my luggage stayed in Amsterdam. It should arrive today though, and I’ve coped without it so far. This is only the second time this has happened to me – the last time was when […]

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Cuckoo bells

I discovered this week that in Welsh bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are known as Clychau’r Gog (“cuckoo bells”), which I really like the sound of. They are also known as Bwtias y Gog (“cuckoo’s boots”), Croeso Haf (“welcome summer”), Cennin y Brain (“crows’ leeks”), Clychau’r Eos (“nightingale’s bells”), Glas y Llwyn (“green blue of the grove”), […]

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Knock Cnoc

The element Knock is quite common in place names in Ireland, e.g. Ballyknock, Castleknock, Gortknock, Kilknock and Knockaderry [source]. There’s also quite a few places called simply Knock, the best known of which is the Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland , which is known as An Cnoc (the hill) or Cnoc […]

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Curing, cleaning and caring

Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different French translations of the verb to cure, depending on what kind of cure you’re talking about. If you’re curing food by salting, the French equivalent is saler (to salt); curing by smoking is fumer (to smoke), and curing by drying is sécher (to dry). Curing […]

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Producing oneself

I came across an interesting expression in a French newspaper article I read today – se produire – which means to produce, occur, take place, perform, appear, and appears in such phrases as: – devoir se produire = to be bound to happen – se produire sur scène = to appear on stage – ce […]

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Grammatical gender matters

In languages with grammatical gender, like French, you can often get away with getting the genders wrong, although it’s best to try to learn them when you learn nouns. However there are some words that have different meanings in different genders. An example in French is loup(e): le loup [lu:] (masculine) is a wolf, and […]

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