Archive for the Category: Language

Differently polite

I discovered the other day that in Chinese families it is considered impolite to say the equivalents of please and thank you, as this is seen as distancing yourself from other members of the family, so within a family such words are apparently rarely used. Is this correct? Does it vary between families? Although I […]

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Also posted in Chinese, English 8 Comments

српски (Serbian)

Last week I started learning Serbian (српски) in preparation for the Polyglot Conference in Novi Sad in Serbia in October. Whenever I visit a country whose language I don’t already speak I learn at least the basics of their language, so I couldn’t go to Serbia without learning some Serbian. I’m using online materials, such […]

Also posted in English, Language learning, Serbian 2 Comments

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Also posted in Quiz questions 5 Comments

When is a language not a language?

One perennial problem in linguistics is how to decide whether a language is a language or dialect. In the fascinating book, Speak: A Short History of Languages, which I read recently, Tore Janson argues that a language can be considered a language when those who speak it decide that it is one, and they give […]

Also posted in English, Italian, Latin, Linguistics 2 Comments

Brushing up languages

Last week in Scotland I tried to speak Scottish Gaelic as much as possible, and had a number of good conversations. At first though, I was adding quite a lot of Irish Gaelic into the mix, which works sometimes as the two languages are close, but not always. Last year I had a month between […]

Also posted in English, Irish, Language learning, Scottish Gaelic 1 Comment

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Also posted in Quiz questions 4 Comments

Waulking and Walking

My Gaelic Song course is going well and I’m really enjoying it. There are thirteen of us in the class – most are from Scotland or of Scottish origin, and there are also a few from other countries like the USA and Germany. Some speak Gaelic well, others know a bit, and those without any […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases Leave a comment

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Also posted in Quiz questions 8 Comments

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

I’m off to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, later today to do a course in Scottish Gaelic song (Òrain Ghàidhlig) with Christine Primrose. This is the third time I’ve done the course with Christine, and the fourth time I’ve been to the college – last year I was there […]

Also posted in English, Music, Scottish Gaelic Leave a comment

Cigire or Cigydd? Cross-language confusion

Last week in Ireland on the last night of the course each class played some tunes, did a sketch, sang songs, and/or did some other party piece. One of the Irish language classes did a sketch about a bunch of unruly school kids whose class was being visited by an inspector, played by Paul Kavanagh, […]

Also posted in English, Irish, Welsh 5 Comments