Archive for the Category: Welsh

Tag questions, innit!

Tag questions or question tags are interrogative fragments (tags) added to statements making them into sort of questions. They tend to be used more in colloquial speech and informal writing than in formal writing, and can indicate politeness, emphasis, irony, confidence or lack of it, and uncertainty. Some are rhetorical and an answer is not […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Grammar, Irish, Italian, Language, Manx, Polish, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish 15 Comments

La gueule de bois

This week I discovered that in French a hangover is une gueule de bois (“a wooden mouth”), which seems quite a good description of the condition. In my thesaurus word for hangover in English include after-effects, katzenjammer, morning after, and the morning after the night before. Do you have any others? I’ve heard of katzenjammer […]

Also posted in English, French, German, Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Everything but the kitchen sink

The phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ indicates many things or almost everything, as in ‘I took everything but the kitchen sink with me on holiday. The OED gives the earliest use of the phrase in writing as 1965. The kitchen sink part of the phrase apparently comes from army slang and appears in Partridge’s […]

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It’s on the knitting needles

Yesterday I discovered that the Welsh idiom, ar y gweill, which can be translated as ‘in the pipeline’, ‘on the way’, ‘in hand’ or ‘underway’ literally means “on the knitting needles”. It’s the plural of gweillen (knitting needle). To knit is gwau or gweu, and a knitter is gwëwr, gweuwr or gwëydd. Here are some […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 2 Comments


On Anglesey not far from where I live, there’s a place with quite a long name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG for short. It has the longest officially recognised place name in Europe which was contrived during the 1860s by a local man who wanted to attract visitors to the town – with […]

Also posted in English, Language 12 Comments

The importance of stress

Last night at the Polyglot conversation group a friend who is learning Welsh told me about the difficulties he had when trying to buy a train ticket to Dolwyddelan, a small village in the Conwy valley in North Wales. None of the ways he tried to pronounce it were understood by the ticket seller, so […]

Also posted in Language, Pronunciation 7 Comments

Partners, other halves and significant others

There was some discussion last night at the polyglot conversation group about the words boyfriend and girlfriend and their equivalents in other languages, particularly in Dutch. In English the words boyfriend and girlfriend seem to indicate someone who is relatively young, so don’t seem quite appropriate for use by more mature couples when referring to […]

Also posted in Dutch, English, Language, Words and phrases 13 Comments

Goel Peran Lowen!

Today is St Piran’s Day and a special day in Cornwall as Piran is regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall (and of tin miners), along with Saint Michael and Saint Petroc. Piran or Perran was an abbot of possibly Irish origin who lived in Cornwall in the early 6th century and later became a […]

Also posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Language 6 Comments

Potatoes from the same furrow

I discovered an interesting Welsh expression today – maen nhw’n datws o’r un rhych (‘they’re potatoes from the same furrow’), which is one equivalent of saying that they are as thick as thieves, i.e. they are close friends. Other Welsh equivalents of this expression include maen nhw’n gryn lawiau (‘they’re pretty (?) hands’); maen nhw’n […]

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Język polski w Anglii i Walii (Polish language in England and Wales)

The 2011 UK census found that Polish is the third most-spoken language in England and and Wales, after English and Welsh, and the second most-spoken language in England after English. According to a report in The Guardian, there are 546,000 speakers Polish in England and Wales, which is compared with the 562,000 people who report […]

Also posted in English, Language, Polish 2 Comments