Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sgoinneil

When someone asks you ‘Ciamar a tha thu?’ (How are you?) in Scottish Gaelic, the standard answer is ‘(Tha mi) gu math’ (I’m fine). An interesting alternative I learnt today is ‘Tha mi sgoinneil’ [ha mi sgɤn̪ˠʲal] The word sgoinneil means ‘trim, well-made; careful; cool, groovy’ according to Am Faclair Beag and ‘careful, heedful; attentive; […]

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English, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases Comments Off

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs with Mary Ann Kennedy at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. This is my third visit to the college and each time my Gaelic gets a bit better. Even though I’m not doing a course in Gaelic language, I […]

English, Language, Language learning, Scottish Gaelic 2 Comments

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

Water lilies, nymphs and blue lotuses

There was talk of ponds and water lilies last night at the French conversation group and I discovered that one French word for water lily is nymphéa [nɛ̃.fe.a], which comes from nymphaea the Latin name for this genus of plants. The Latin word comes from the Ancient Greek word νύμφη (nymphe), which means girl, and […]

Arabic, English, Etymology, French, Greek, Language, Sanskrit, Words and phrases 6 Comments

Orientating oneself

When visiting an unfamiliar place in order to find you way around it helps if you work out where you are in relation to particular landmarks and in which direction you’re facing. In order to use a map you need to know where north is so that you can hold the map the right way […]

English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Words and phrases 9 Comments

The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics

The good people at the Speculative Grammarian, the premier scholarly journal in field of satirical linguistics, sent me a review copy of their book, The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics, and asked me if I could write a review. This is what they said: “Of course, we think the book is quite funny, though […]

Language, Linguistics Comments Off

Language quiz

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

Language, Quiz questions 10 Comments

The Nadgery Road to Cemaes

On the way to a singing workshop in Cemaes today the word nadgery was used to describe the road. From the context I guessed that it meant winding, but as I hadn’t heard the word before I checked, and was told that it’s a dialect word from the north east of England. It doesn’t appear […]

English, Language, Music, Words and phrases 1 Comment

Russian

I spoke a bit of Russian with the couch surfers yesterday and today, but we spoke mostly in English. They said that my Russian pronunciation is good and they could understand what I was saying, which is encouraging. I can talk about myself and my family in Russian now – those were the things I […]

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Русский язык

I have a couple of Russian couchsurfers coming to stay with me today, so this morning I am focusing on Russian. They both speak English, but I’d like to speak at least some Russian with them. I’m trying to think of things I might say – particularly about myself, my family and my work, and […]

English, Language, Language learning, Russian Comments Off