Monthly Archives: May 2006

Tempus fugit

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. Finding time to study languages, and do all the other things I enjoy doing (including writing this blog), is quite tricky. Fortunately, because I work at home most of the time, I have some flexibility in when I start and finish my work, and I […]

General 3 Comments

Word of the day – glisser

glisser, verb = to slide, slip, glide Examples of usage le beateau glissait sur les eaux = the boat glided over the water ils glissèrent le long de la pente dans le ravin = they slid down the slope into the gully le voleur leur a glissé entre les mains = the thief slipped through […]

French, Language, Words and phrases 10 Comments

Relative difficulty

On a typical day, I listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta in the morning, and Radio nan Gaidheal and Radio Cymru in the afternoon. Of the languages spoken on these radio stations – Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh respectively, I understand Welsh the best, and the other two quite well, though my Irish is stronger than […]

Language 7 Comments


When watching films in languages I can understand but which are foreign to me, I try to follow the spoken dialogue and read the subtitles at the same time. This is quite a challenge. When the subtitles are not there, I can usually follow the dialogue better because my concentration isn’t split between listening to […]

Language 10 Comments

Word of the day – seilleann-dé

seilleann-dé, noun = butterfly – (lit. “bee of God”) Related words: seilleann-mòr – bumble bee (lit. “big bee”) seilleann-nimh – hornet (lit. “poison bee”) seilleann-seimhid – snail seilleannach – fulls of bees, teasing, capricious There are also some interesting words for butterfly in Welsh: iâr fach yr haf (lit. “summer chick”) glöyn byw (lit. “living […]

Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases 2 Comments

Comprehension delay

When I listen to speech in a foreign language there is often a delay between my hearing of what is said and my understanding of it. My brain is working hard to separate the continuous stream of sound into words, and to work out the meanings of those words, though I don’t usually translate the […]

Language 5 Comments

Shellbacks and polliwogs

My brother and his girlfriend are currently polliwogs, but sometime today or tomorrow they will become shellbacks. A polliwog or pollywog is a sailor who has not crossed the equator, while a shellback is one who has, or an experienced or old sailor. According to nautical tradition, when the equator is crossed, a ceremony is […]

English, Language, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Word of the day – dylunio gwe

dylunio gwe = web design dylunio = to design; gwe = web, gauze, texture Heddiw, o’r diwedd, dw i’n wedi dod o hyd i’r gair Cymraeg am web design, a thermau defnyddiol eraill fel systemau rheoli cynnwys, datblygu gwefanau a mewnrwydi. Rŵan, os oes angen arna i, dw i’n gallu siarad am y pethau hyn. […]

Language, Welsh, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Word of the day – bean ghlúine

bean ghlúine, noun = midwife (lit. “kneeling woman”) This word suggests that kneeling was once a major part of being a midwife in Ireland. Other Irish words for midwife are bean chabhartha (“helping woman”) and cnáimhseach, and midwifery is cnáimhseachas. The word midwife comes from the Old English mid (with) and wif (woman). One of […]

Irish, Language, Words and phrases 3 Comments

Word of the day – 崎 (qí)

崎 (qí), noun = the banks of a winding river This is an example of one of the very specific words in Chinese. I doubt if it’s used very often, but the fact that you pack so much meaning into a single syllable is quite impressive. Pronounced with the first tone and combined with 嶇 […]

Chinese, Language, Words and phrases 23 Comments
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