Monthly Archives: July 2013

Learning by doing

Today is the last day I focus on Irish after doing so for a whole month. That may not sound like much, but for me it is – I tend to flit from language to language and rarely spend very long on any one of them. Every day, with only a few exceptions, I’ve written […]

English, Irish, Language, Language learning 3 Comments

Summer schools

I had a wonderful time in Ireland last week, which is why I keep going back every summer. This year was my ninth visit to Oideas Gael and my seventh time at the summer school. Gleann Cholm Cille is beautiful, the people are great, and there’s a lovely, friendly, helpful, supportive atmosphere there. Everyone is […]

English, Irish, Language, Language learning, Music Comments Off on Summer schools

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 8 Comments

Unexpected languages

My course in Gleann Cholm Cille finished yesterday and I’m on my why home. I’m staying in Dublin tonight and continuing my journey to Bangor tomorrow. The hostel I’m staying in tonight is full of people from all over the world – so far I’ve heard French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and a Scandinavian language being […]

English, Irish, Japanese, Language, Manx, Music 3 Comments

Gleann Cholm Cille

This week I’m in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland taking part in the summer school in Irish language and culture at Oideas Gael. There are about 100 people here for the summer school and we have Irish language classes in the mornings and can choose from a variety of […]

Czech, English, French, German, Irish, Language, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic Comments Off on Gleann Cholm Cille

Language quiz

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken?

Language, Quiz questions 4 Comments

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 […]

English, Etymology, French, Language, Welsh 3 Comments


Last night I went to see the NoFitState circus, who are currently in Bangor. So I thought I’d look at the origins of a few circus related words. circus comes from the Latin word circus (ring, circle) and was used by the Romans to for circular arenas and oval race courses (e.g. the Circus Maximus). […]

English, Language 1 Comment


One day last week I was walking through town and saw a couple walking nearby – a Chinese woman with a Western man. I wondered what language they were speaking to each other, so I eavesdropped and heard that it was Mandarin. This surprised me as it’s rare, in my experience, to hear non-Chinese people […]

Chinese, Language 4 Comments

Language quiz

Here’s a recording of a verse from a song I’m currently writing. It contains a mixture of genuine words from Shetland dialect and words I made-up, plus a few that are based on Shetland words. Here are the words: When the plookplooks are a plinkin upon their peerie goos And the baagies are a birlin […]

Language, Quiz questions 1 Comment
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