Archive for the Category: Welsh

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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Poor mean houses

On the bus to Conwy today I noticed that the Welsh name of one of the stops included the word teios, which I hadn’t come across before. In English the stop had the word cottages in it. I wrote down what I thought I heard and saw: teilios, but couldn’t find that in any Welsh […]

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I discovered an interesting word in Irish yesterday – súilíní [ˈsˠuːl̪ʲiːn̪ʲiː] – which is a diminutive form of súil [sˠuːl̪ʲ] (eye) and means literally “small eyes”, and actually means eyelets, an aperture-sight, or bubbles. For example, uisce gan súilíní is still water (“water without bubbles”) [source]. More common Irish words for bubbles are bolgán and […]

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Coasts and competitors

Sometimes when I see new words in English or other languages I can immediately break them down into their component parts and work out their roots, but other times I just accept words as whole entities without trying to work out their derivation. One such word in Welsh is arfordir, which I hadn’t tried to […]

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Suo Gân

We are learning the traditional Welsh lullaby Suo Gân [sɨɔ ɡɑːn] in one of the choirs I sing in at the moment. It’s a lovely song that was first written down in 1800, but was probably composed around before then. When I first saw the words Suo Gân I thought they might be Mandarin Chinese […]

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Polyglot Gathering Berlin 2015

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin about an hour ago. I took the train all the way from Berlin to Bangor, via Cologne, Brussels, London, Crewe and Chester, leaving Berlin just before 7am this morning, and arriving in Bangor just after 9pm this evening. On the way there I also travelled by […]

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Carrying coals to Newcastle

An idiomatic way to say a task is pointless is to say it’s like carrying coals to Newcastle – Newcastle, in the north east of England, used to be a major coal mining area. In French the equivalent is porter de l’eau à la rivière (to carry water to the river). In German they say […]

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Llap y dwndwr – the drink of prattle

I discovered last night that an old Welsh expression for tea is llap y dwndwr [ɬap ə ˈdʊndʊr], which could be translated as meaning “the drink that makes one talkative” or “the drink of chatter”. It is also the name of a tune. The word llap means soft and wet, and appears in the expression […]

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Multilingual conversations

At the French conversation group I go to most weeks we usually stick to French most of the time, however when the leader of the group isn’t there or leaves early, as she did last week and the week before, we often switch to English and/or Welsh. Most members of the group speak Welsh, as […]

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One Person One Language (OPOL)

This post is based largely on an article by Francois Grosjean: One popular way to raise bilingual children is for each parent to speak only their native language with their children. For example the father will speak English and the mother will speak Spanish, and the children will acquire both languages. At first the […]

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