Archive for the Category: Etymology

Sealladh Mara (Seascape)

My song course has now finished, and I’ll be heading home tomorrow. I’ve learnt a lot of interesting and beautiful Gaelic songs this week, and had a great time. There were some excellent concerts in the evenings, and an end-of-course cèilidh last night, at which each class performed their party piece (a song or two), […]

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How many roads?

Last week I learned that there are quite a few words for roads in Irish. These include: bóthar [ˈbˠoːhəɾˠ] = road; way, manner. From the Proto-Celtic *bow-itros (cow path). Related words in other Celtic languages: – bóthar [boː.ər] = alley, lane (Scottish Gaelic) – bayr [bajr] = avenue, drive, lane, pad, roadway (Manx) – beidr […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Irish, Language, Latin, Manx, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Gaelic hills

I’m currently reading an interesting book – Uncommon Ground – A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape by Dominick Tyler. One thing I’ve learnt from it, is that there are quite a few words in Scottish Gaelic related to hills and mountains: Beinn [beiɲ / beɲə] = mountain, mount; high hill, pinnacle; head, top, high […]

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Standing still on the longest day

Today is the longest day of the year and the summer solstice. After several hot, sunny days in Bangor, today it’s cloudy, warm and muggy. The word solstice comes from the Old French solstice, from Latin sōlstitium (solstice; summer), from sol (sun) and sto (stand), from sistō (I stand still). Sol comes from the Proto-Italic […]

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Wandering prattlers

It has been brought to my attention that in Swedish the most common way to say ‘speak’, at least in Stockholm, is pratar, and that few people use talar anymore. Är detta sant? Is this true? The Duolingo course I’m studying Swedish with uses talar, – pratar has not come up yet. According to Witionary, […]

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Nature service

Yesterday I went to see the ankle specialist at the local hospital,. He said that my ankle has healed well and just needs a bit of physiotherapy. I can start to wean myself off the orthopedic boot, using it less and less each day, and crutches as well. I didn’t wear the boot yesterday afternoon, […]

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Calabooses, digging and beds

I came across the word calaboose in a book I read recently and as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context I had to look it up. I also like the sound of it, so thought I’d write about it. A calaboose is an informal American term for a prison or jail. It […]

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Flutes and buckles

Six weeks ago today I had a slight mishap while ice skating in London, and managed to dislocate and fracture my ankle – both the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (calf bone). The word tibia comes from the Latin tībia (shin bone, leg). It originally referred to a stalk, or reed pipe, and came to […]

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Playing games

In English you play a game, but you don’t play a play. In Russian the words for to play and game come from the same root: играть (to play) and игра (game). To play a game is играть в игру. I already knew the verb играть, but didn’t know that the word for a game […]

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Harmony-loving chorus

Last night I went to an excellent concert at the Pontio Arts Centre featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the brilliant harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani. As well as enjoying the concert, I started thinking about the word philharmonic – what it means, where it comes from, and why it features in the names of many […]

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