Archive for the Category: Welsh

Can’t do it for toffee

There’s an interesting idiom in British English that means that you are bad at doing something – you can’t do it for toffee. Apparently a US equivalent is can’t do something for beans. The equivalent of this phrase in French is il n’est pas fichu de faire qch and in Welsh it’s nid yw’n medru […]

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Da mad math

In Welsh and Cornish the usual word for good is da [daː], while in the other Celtic languages words for good are: Breton – mat [maːt˺], Irish – maith [mˠa(ɪ)(h)], Manx – mie [maɪ], and Scottish Gaelic – math [ma]. I’ve wondered for a while whether there were cognates in Welsh and Cornish for these […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 11 Comments

Maeldy

I came across an interesting word in my Welsh dictionary – maeldy [ˈmaːɨldɨ̬ / ˈmaildɪ] – which is an old word for shop. The normal Welsh word for shop is siop, which sounds like shop. I had wondered if there was a another word for shop other than the one borrowed from English, now I […]

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All mouth and no trousers

The idiom all mouth and no trousers came up last night at the French conversation group. We were actually looking for a French equivalent of all fur coat and no knickers and couldn’t find one, but did find an equivalent of all mouth and no trousers, which has a somewhat similar meaning. According to the […]

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Mochi

Yesterday I came across an interesting Welsh word in one of my Welsh dictionaries (Y Geiriadur Mawr) – mochi ['mɔxɪ] – which means “ymdrybaeddu fel moch / to wallow as swine”. It comes from moch (pigs), the singular of which is mochyn, from the Proto-Celtic *mokkus (pig), which probably comes from a non-Indo-European root [source]. […]

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Byd bach (Small world)

Yesterday I met some Russians who are in Bangor for Celtic-Slavic language conference. They both speak Welsh and one of them teaches Welsh in Moscow. We got chatting, mainly in Welsh, and it turned out that they know friends of mine who are studying or doing research in Aberystwyth, and they also know Russians I […]

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Churches and Cells

Today I discovered that the Welsh word llan (church, parish), which is used mainly in place names, such as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, has cognates in the other Celtic languages: lann in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish and Manx, and lan in Breton. These words all come from the Proto-Indo-European root *lendʰ- (land, heath) [source]. Another word church-related word […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 7 Comments

High Stones

I spent yesterday in Harlech [ˈharlɛx] with a friend looking round the castle, exploring the village and wandering along the beach. We wondered where the name Harlech comes from, so I thought I’d find out. According to Wikipedia, there are two possible sources: from the Welsh ardd (high; hill) llech (stone) or from hardd (beautiful) […]

Also posted in Breton, English, Etymology, Irish, Language, Manx, Proto-Indo-European, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Blackberries and Walls

The French words mur (wall) mûr (ripe; mature) and mûre (blackberry; mulberry) are written differently but pronounced the same – [myʁ], so are only distinguished by context in speech. The word mur (wall) comes from the Latin mūrus (wall), from the Old Latin *moerus/*moiros, from the Proto-Indo-European *mei (to fix, to build fortifications or fences) […]

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Cigire or Cigydd? Cross-language confusion

Last week in Ireland on the last night of the course each class played some tunes, did a sketch, sang songs, and/or did some other party piece. One of the Irish language classes did a sketch about a bunch of unruly school kids whose class was being visited by an inspector, played by Paul Kavanagh, […]

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