Archive for the Category: Irish

Grammar and usage

Last week a friend suggested that it is grammatically correct to say “I go to the bar now”, even if it’s more usual to say “I’m going to the bar now”. We suggested that in English as spoken in the UK the first would be considered wrong, even though it’s understandable. My friend insisted that […]

Also posted in English, Grammar, Language 17 Comments

Selective attention

The other day an English guy who has lived in Wales for many years and who doesn’t speak Welsh told me that when he listens to people speaking Welsh, he hears lots of English words, words derived from English, and words from French or Latin, so he believes that Welsh is made up mainly of […]

Also posted in French, Language, Latin, Welsh 8 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 […]

Also posted in Breton, English, French, German, Language, Welsh Comments Off

Labhair Gaeilge liom

I just watched a video of an interview in Irish that Benny Lewis did on Raidió na Life, the Irish language radio station in Dublin. Benny mentions that he has had a t-shirt made with “Labhair Gaeilge liom” (Speak Irish with me) on it and that people who see the shirt speak Irish to him, […]

Also posted in Chinese, English, Language, Language learning, Welsh 25 Comments


While I was in Scotland last week I took part in conversation circles in the evenings after class. Among those attending there were some whose Scottish Gaelic was very fluent, others who struggled to put sentences together, and people like me who are somewhere in between. I could understand almost everything people said and could […]

Also posted in Language, Scottish Gaelic 8 Comments


I came across the Scottish Gaelic word spòg (foot) in a song I learnt today and it caught my attention because I heard it a couple of weeks ago when I was in Ireland being used to mean foot in English. I thought it might be a Irish word, but didn’t get round to checking. […]

Also posted in English, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 4 Comments

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 Breton, English, Etymology, French, 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 Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Counting rhymes

We learnt this Irish counting rhyme in class today: Lúrabóg lárabóg Ladhra buithe Buíeán Eoghain Eoghean an Phreabáin Preabán suilí Súilí saic The first two words are made up nonsense words, the others mean something like, “yellow toes, Eoghain’s egg yolk, Jack-in-the-Box, ??, eyelets of a sack”. There are quite a few other rhymes like […]

Also posted in English, Language 10 Comments

Deiseal agus tuathal

Yesterday we discussed the Irish words deiseal (/ˈdʲɛʃəl/) and tuathal (/’tuəhəl/) in class. Deiseal means clockwise, dextral, right-hand, rightward, starboard, and tuathal means the opposite: anticlockwise, sinistral left-hand, leftward, port. Some examples of usage: – bogadh ar deiseal = to go in a clockwise direction – dul deiseal = to go in a rightward direction […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments