Archive for the Category: Breton


Spontus is a Breton word I learnt recently that means scary or terrible, as in spontus eo an amzer hiziv (the weather is terrible today). It doesn’t sound like it comes from a Welsh or Cornish root, and I wondered where it came from. According to the Wikeriadur spontus comes from the word spont (to […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases 11 Comments


My Breton studies are progressing and so far I’ve learnt a bit more everyday. Last week I worked through the first five lessons of my textbook (Le Breton, par Assimil) and today I got to the seventh lesson, which summerises what you’re learnt in the previous six lessons. The lessons are all short and don’t […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Language learning 3 Comments

My language studies

This week I decided to start learning Russian and Breton again. I’ve learnt bits and pieces of them before but haven’t managed to get back into the habit of studying any language regularly for quite a while. I keep on making plans, and then due to inertia, laziness and procrastination don’t implement them. So I […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning, Russian 6 Comments

Sentence bank

I’ve decided to learn some more Breton and have found a very useful website – the Breizh-Llydaw Sentence Bank (y Cronfa Frawddegau Breizh-Llydaw / Ar gevredigezh Kembre-Breizh) – a bilingual corpus of sentences in Breton and Welsh from the magazine Breizh-Llydaw. I can understand the Welsh sentences and can more or less work out the […]

Also posted in English, Language, Language learning, Welsh 3 Comments

Yezhoù, kanaouennoù ha sonerezh

The Breton couchsurfers arrived yesterday, with an Austrian friend, and we’re having a great time. They’ve taught me a bit of Breton, we’ve also talked in French, English, Welsh, Irish and German – I love having opportunities to use my languages like this. I’ve learnt more about Brittany and Breton and have shown them round […]

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Couchsurfing and languages

Last week when looking for people in Bangor to practise my languages with I found mention of a polyglot conversation group on I’m not sure if it’s still going, but after looking around the site I thought I’d register. A few days later I got a couch request for this coming weekend from some […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning 1 Comment

Menhirs, dolmens and cromlechs

The word menhir come up in discussion yesterday and I posted it on Facebook today along with the the Welsh translation maen hir, which is what I found in this dictionary. This provoked further discussion about whether the two terms mean the same thing. So I thought I’d find out. A menhir is a standing […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Irish, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 6 Comments

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’) […]

Also posted in Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Irish, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Yn Chruinnaght

Tomorrow I’m off to the Isle of Man for Yn Chruinnaght (‘the gathering’) – a celebration of Manx and Celtic music and culture featuring performers and participants from the Isle of Man, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. I’m really looking forward to it as it’s a great opportunity to see old friends and make […]

Also posted in Cornish, English, Irish, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Travel, Welsh 3 Comments


The French words baragouin and baragouiner came up in conversation yesterday and I thought I’d write about them today as they have an interesting etymology. According to Reverso baragouin means ‘gibberish, gabble or double Dutch’ and baragouiner ‘means ‘to gibber, jabber, gabble’. The Larousse Dictionary defines baragouin as language that is incomprehensible due to poor […]

Also posted in English, French, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments