Archive for the Category: Irish

Fá dtaobh de

The Irish expression fá dtaobh de means about, as in tá mé ag cainnt fá dtaobh de (I am talking about it). It is most commonly used in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland, where it’s pronounced something like /fa’duːdə/. In other parts of Ireland it would be pronounced something like /fa.d̪ˠiːv.dʲe/, though other words […]

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According to the 2011 Irish census, the number of people who use Irish in Ireland as their everyday language outside school is 82,600. Many more speak it, but only in school, or rarely, This compares with 119,526 people who speak Polish at home and 56,430 who speak French. The census also found that just 35% […]

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Paid a gwgu!

I learnt the Welsh expression Paid a gwgu! [paɪd a ˈgʊgɨ] from friends in Aberystwyth yesterday. It means ‘Don’t frown/glower/scowl!’. I like the sound of gwgu, which doesn’t seem like a frowny word to me – it’s more like a baby’s babbling. Related words include gwg (frown) and gwgus (frowning). Words for frown in Irish, […]

Also posted in Idioms, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Purses and sporrans

The word purse has an interesting history, I discovered today. It comes from the Old English word purs, from the Late Latin word bursa, which had a number of meanings of the centuries, including skin or leather; (money) bag; scrotum; exchange; and scholarship, allowance, and comes from the Greek word βύρσα (hide, leather). bursa is […]

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In the Celtic languages when you want to say that you have/own/possess something, you say that the thing is at/by/with you, often with the prepositions merging with the pronouns. For example, this is how to say ‘I have a book’ in those languages: – Irish: Tá leabhar agam [lit. "is book at-me] – Scottish Gaelic: […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, Language, Manx, Russian, Scottish Gaelic 25 Comments

Lyrics Translate

The other day I came across a useful site called Lyrics Translate, where you can find, submit and request translations of songs. It currently contains translations between a wide range of languages, including English, German, Russian, Turkish, Spanish, Polish and so on, and the site itself can be viewed in a variety of languages. There […]

Also posted in Breton, English, French, Language, Manx, Music, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Translation, Turkish, Welsh 2 Comments

Eilean Mhanainn / Ellan Vannin

I just listened to the first in a series of programmes on Radio nan Gàidheal on the Isle of Man (Eilean Mhanainn in Scottish Gaelic, and Ellan Vannin in Manx), which focuses on the Manx language. I found it very interesting, and was pleased to find that I could understand almost all the Scottish Gaelic, […]

Also posted in Language, Manx, Scottish Gaelic 5 Comments

Summer chicks and glowing coals

Last night we were talking about the Pili Palas on Anglesey, a butterfly centre, which also has birds, snakes and other exotic creatures. The name is a pun combining pili-pala (butterfly) and palas (palace) – it took me ages to realise this. We were trying to think of the words for butterfly in various other […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, German, Italian, Language, Latin, Manx, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Cnaipí & cripio

A story I heard when I was in Ireland featured two characters playing na cnaipí (tiddlywinks) /nə kripiː/ in a graveyard at night. A man who overheard them sharing out the tiddlywinks, saying over and over “one for me and one for you”, and thought they were the devil and god sharing out souls. When […]

Also posted in Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Welsh, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Oideas Gael

I’ve been having a wonderful time this week at Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland. I can understand most of the Irish I hear here, and my own spoken Irish is definitely improving, as is my ability to sing in Irish (I’ve been doing the sean-nóis class […]

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