The other day an English guy who has lived in Wales for many years and who doesn’t speak Welsh told me that when he listens to people speaking Welsh, he hears lots of English words, words derived from English, and words from French or Latin, so he believes that Welsh is made up mainly of such words.
I suggested that such words just seemed to be prominent and ubiquitous because they are the only ones he understands, and that the majority of Welsh words are completely different, though they share the same ultimate roots as words in most other European languages.
He wasn’t convinced, and when asked for examples, could only think of a few: parcio (parking) and ffenestr (window) and pont (bridge).
I can understand why he’s convinced that there are lots of words of English, French and Latin origin in Welsh – selective attention. It’s like if someone says that you don’t see many yellow cars around, you will start to notice ever yellow car and might become convinced that they are more common than they really are.
Have you any mistaken impressions of languages you don’t know?
When I first heard spoken Irish I thought it was mainly made up of the occasional English word, plus lots of agus (and), and mumbling in an Irish accent. Now I know better.