Archive for the Category: Irish

Linguistic adventures

This week I have been speaking quite a bit of Irish. Even though I rarely speak it at home, it is usually there when I need it. When trying to understand songs or poems in Irish, I realise that there are plenty of gaps in my vocabulary, but I can at least get the gist […]

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Turrys foddey / Turas fada / A Long Journey

Last night I arrived safely in Glencolmcille in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. I left Peel at 8am, went by bus to Ronaldsway airport, flew to Dublin, then took buses all the way to Glencolmcille, arriving just before 8pm, so it took nearly 12 hours. I met people I know from previous visits to […]

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Celtic conversations

This week I’ve had quite a few conversations in Manx. I only speak it when I come to the Isle of Man, and when I meet Manx learners at polyglot events. At the beginning of the week my Manx was decidedly rusty, but it’s starting to flow now. When I don’t know a word or […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh Leave a comment

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 […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 3 Comments

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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Protagonists and sidekicks

When listening to The Allusionist podcast today I learnt an interesting word – tritagonist, who was the actor who played the third role in ancient Greek drama. Tritagonist comes from the Ancient Greek word τρίτἀγωνιστής (triagōnistḗs), from τρίτ ‎(third) and ἀγωνιστής ‎(combatant, participant). The actors who played the first and second roles in ancient Greek […]

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Plains, pianos and floors

The Welsh word llawr [ɬau̯r] means floor, deck, gallery, stage, platform, cellar, basement, ground, face, and a few other things. I discovered today that it has cognates in all the other Celtic languages: – leur (Cornish) = floor, ground – leur (Breton) = area, ground, floor, soil – lár (Irish) = ground, floor, middle, centre […]

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Weathered pagodas and stretching times

The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English. The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Czech, English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Russian, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Ingenious genius

The word ingenious sounds like the antonym (opposite) of genius as in- is often used as a negative suffix (invisible, indivisible, etc). However they are not. Ingenious means: – displaying genius or brilliance – tending to invent – characterized by genius – cleverly done or contrived; witty; original; shrewd; adroit; keen; sagacious. It comes from: […]

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Reasons to learn minority languages

I came across an interesting article today which discusses some of the benefits of learning a minority language like Manx. The writer, a fluent Manx speaker, is currently studying French and Linguistics at Oxford University, and has found that her knowledge of Manx has enabled her to make all sorts of connections, and has opened […]

Also posted in Endangered languages, English, Language, Language learning, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh Comments Off on Reasons to learn minority languages
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