Archive for the Category: Welsh

Knowledge and seeing

I discovered today that there is a connection between the Gaelic word for knowledge, information, news – fios in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, fys in Manx – and the English words video and wit. Their roots can all be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root woid-/wid- (to see/to know), which, according to the OED, is […]

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Cymraeg ar y trên

On my train back from London on Sunday evening the train manager started someone of his announcements Welsh. For example he said, “Croeso, welcome to this train”, and when checking tickets he said, “Diolch yn fawr, thank you very much” to everyone. I think this was the first time I’d heard Welsh being used on […]

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Le Grand-Bi

I discovered today the French term for a penny-farthing bicycle (pictured right) is le grand-bi. It is also known as a bicycle, and that was what they were usually called in English when they were popular in the 1880s. The name penny-farthing only came to be used in around 1891. The penny-farthing, which is also […]

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While putting together this week’s mots de la semaine, some of the interesting words and phrases that come in the French conversation group I go to on Thursday evenings, I discovered the Welsh word gwymona [gʊɨˈmɔna], which means “to gather seaweed (for fertilizer)” – an interesting and specific meaning. It comes from the word for […]

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An interesting word that came up in my Breton lesson today is archerien, which means police. It caught my attention because it has no obvious connection to the word police, and because it is completely different to the equivalent words in other Celtic languages: – Welsh: heddlu (“peace force”) – Cornish: kreslu (“peace host”) – […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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