Archive for the Category: Irish

Gabions and the importance of names

The other day I discovered that the name for those wire cages filled with rocks used in construction and to stabilise river banks, hillsides and shorelines are called gabions. The word comes from the Italian gabbione (big cage), which comes from the Latin cavea (cage). There are plenty of gabions around here, but I didn’t […]

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Also posted in English, Etymology, Italian, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Extreme Polyglottery

The Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last week was fantastic and I enjoyed everything about it. The organizers did an excellent job and everything went well, with only minor hitches. Many other people helped things to run smoothly, and gave talks and/or arranged discussions and language practise sessions. Venue The venue was a huge hostel/hotel near […]

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Knock Cnoc

The element Knock is quite common in place names in Ireland, e.g. Ballyknock, Castleknock, Gortknock, Kilknock and Knockaderry [source]. There’s also quite a few places called simply Knock, the best known of which is the Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland , which is known as An Cnoc (the hill) or Cnoc […]

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Voices and calls

After writing yesterday’s post I was thinking about the Czech word hlas [ɦɫas] (voice, vote) and realised that it is quite similar to the Welsh word for voice, llais [ɬais]. I wondered it they share the same root. Hlas comes from the Proto-Slavic *golsъ (voice), from the Proto-Balto-Slavic *galsas (voice), from the Proto-Indo-European *golHsos, from […]

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Towns, gardens and fences

Last week I went to Denbigh, a small town in the north east of Wales, to sing in a concert. On the way there there was some discussion about the origins and meaning of the name Denbigh. So I thought I’d find out more. The English name of the town doesn’t mean anything, but the […]

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Which language next?

As today is the 1st October it’s time to change my focus to a different language on my Multilngual Musings blog – but which one? During the past three months I’ve focused on Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx – a different one each month – and have found the exercise of writing something and recording […]

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Knowledge and seeing

I discovered today that there is a connection between the Gaelic word for knowledge, information, news – fios in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, fys in Manx – and the English words video and wit. Their roots can all be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root woid-/wid- (to see/to know), which, according to the OED, is […]

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Back in Bangor

I’m now back in Bangor after a very enjoyable and interesting week at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. We learnt 15 songs during the week, so the course wasn’t as intensive as the one I did last year when we learnt twice as many songs, and we learnt about the background of the songs, and even saw […]

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Learning by doing

Today is the last day I focus on Irish after doing so for a whole month. That may not sound like much, but for me it is – I tend to flit from language to language and rarely spend very long on any one of them. Every day, with only a few exceptions, I’ve written […]

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Summer schools

I had a wonderful time in Ireland last week, which is why I keep going back every summer. This year was my ninth visit to Oideas Gael and my seventh time at the summer school. Gleann Cholm Cille is beautiful, the people are great, and there’s a lovely, friendly, helpful, supportive atmosphere there. Everyone is […]

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