Archive for the Category: Latin

Archerien

An interesting word that came up in my Breton lesson today is archerien, which means police. It caught my attention because it has no obvious connection to the word police, and because it is completely different to the equivalent words in other Celtic languages: – Welsh: heddlu (“peace force”) – Cornish: kreslu (“peace host”) – […]

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Pseudolanguages

One way English speakers play with English is by making into Pig Latin. This involves move the first sound of each word to the end and adding “ay”; for example Pig Latin becomes Ig-pay atin-lay. If a word starts with a vowel you might add hey, way or yay to the end. This creates a […]

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Selective attention

The other day an English guy who has lived in Wales for many years and who doesn’t speak Welsh told me that when he listens to people speaking Welsh, he hears lots of English words, words derived from English, and words from French or Latin, so he believes that Welsh is made up mainly of […]

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Spench, spence and sbens

Recently a friend told me that in North Wales the area under stairs is know as the spench – I hadn’t heard it before and didn’t know how to write it so this spelling is a guess. I found spench in the Urban Dictionary, which defines it as “the area under the stairs (often a […]

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Handles, sleeves, tails and legs

Yesterday I discovered that there are quite a few different words for handle in French, depending on what kind of handle you’re referring to: – poignée /pwa.ɲe/ is a door handle or the handle on the lid of something. It also means handful, as in une poignée de sel (a handful of salt) or Ils […]

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Cars, carts and chariots

Last week I was told that the English word car originally comes from the Irish word carr (donkey cart). Apparently when cars came to Ireland Irish speakers thought it was better to come up with a new word for them than to name them after the humble donkey cart, so the term gluaisteán (‘moving thing’) […]

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Gendarmes et policiers

Yesterday there was some discussion of the police at the French Conversation Group – one of the members is a former policeman. We use the word policier, but later I remembered that another French word for policeman is gendarme, and it suddenly dawned on me that gendarme probably comes from gens d’armes (armed man). I […]

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Baguette de tambour

Yesterday I discovered that in French a drumstick is a baguette de tambour, which conjured up images of French drummers playing their drums with long loaves of bread. The word baguette comes from the Italian word bacchetta (little rod), a diminutive of bacchio (rod), from the Latin baculum (stick, staff). As well as meaning a […]

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Parades

Last weekend I saw a couple of parades – a small and rather damp one in Bangor on Saturday that was part of the Bangor Carnival – and a rather bigger and more elaborate one on Sunday in Manchester that was part of the Manchester Day celebrations. This got me wondering about the origins of […]

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Panache, pegs and pinafores

One thing we discussed last night at the French Conversation Group was whether panache means the same thing in French as it does in English. According to the OED, panache [/pəˈnaʃ/ (UK) /pəˈnæʃ/ (USA)] comes from the Middle French pennache, which originally meant a tuft or plume of feathers, and by the late 19th century […]

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