Archive for the Category: Irish

Multilingual Britain

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Kerstin Cable about the languages of the British Isles for the The Creative Language Learning Podcast, which she makes with Lindsey Dow of Lindsey Does Languages. The podcast is now online as The Secret Languages of Great Britain. In the podcast we talk about the indigenous languages […]

Also posted in English, Language, Language learning, Manx, Polish, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Sign language, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Throats and trees

One Scottish Gaelic expression I learnt last week was “Tha craobh air mo sgòrnan” or literally “There’s a tree on my throat”. This is the Gaelic equivalent of “There’s a frog in my throat”, which is used when you are rendered temporarily speechless due to a small amphibian taking up residence in your oesophagus, or […]

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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

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AreSpacesBetweenWordsImportant?

Did you know that the practice of putting spaces between words was started by Irish monks writing in Latin? This is what I discovered from an episode of the Allusionist – apparently when Christianity arrived in Ireland in the 6th century and people started writing in Latin, they put spaces between the words to make […]

Also posted in English, Language, Latin, Writing 4 Comments

Back in Bangor

I arrived back from New York a few hours ago after an overnight flight from JFK to Manchester. The flight went smoothly, apart from a bit if bumpiness at one point, and I managed to sleep a bit. The sun was shining in Manchester and in Bangor, though it’s a lot cooler here than it […]

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Polyglot Conference, New York

This weekend I am in New York for the 2015 Polyglot Conference. I arrived yesterday afternoon after an uneventful flight from Manchester. It took a couple of hours to get out of the airport, and another hour or so to Manhattan. Last night I met up with some other polyglots near the Statan Island ferry […]

Also posted in Chinese, Conlangs, English, Esperanto, French, German, Japanese, Language, Manx, Portuguese, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Taiwanese, Toki Pona, Travel, Welsh 1 Comment

Irish and Ndebele

Yesterday I went to Global Café, a group for international students which I’ve been going to on and off since I was a student myself. I use it as a chance to meet people and practise my languages, and I got to speak quite a few different languages last night, including Welsh, French, Irish, Mandarin, […]

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Custard sandwiches and pancakes

The Welsh word for sandwich is brechdan [ˈbrɛxdan], which comes from the Irish word brechtán (butter, fat), according to the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru. However according to MacBain’s Dictionary, is related to the Scottish Gaelic word for pancake, breacag, which is related to breachdan (custard), which comes from the Middle Irish breachtán (a roll), which is […]

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Tell Me a Story!

When I was in Ireland last week I heard plenty of stories, including some traditional ones in Irish. There was a night of sean-nós singing, dancing and story telling on Thursday, and afterwards we had a long talk with our sean-nós singing teacher, Gearóidín Breathnach, about various things, including the decline in traditional story telling, […]

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Now, is it you that’s in it?

An interesting Hiberno-English expression I heard today is “Is it you that’s in it?”, which is a direct translation of the Irish “tusa atá ann?“, and is used as a greeting meaning something like, “Hello, how are you?”. Another Hiberno-English expression that came up in conversation this morning was “Don’t talk to me (about that)”, […]

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