Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

Oban / An t-Òban
A sunny morning in Oban / Madainn ghrianach anns an Oban

The trip from Oban to Skye went smoothly, and I bumped into a couple on the bus who I met at SMO last year. There were several other SMO-bound people on the bus, but I didn’t know them at the time. We arrived safely at Broadford on Sunday afternoon, and got a lift to the college from there. Along the way, there was sunshine, lots of rain and some high winds, and the views from the bus were beautiful.

Tyndrum / Taigh an Droma
Changing buses in Tyndrum / Ag atharrachadh bhusaichean ann an Tyndrum

So far, the Gaelic song course has been a lot of fun. There are eleven of us in the class from Scotland, England, Ireland, Switzerland and Germany. Some are here for the first time, others have been here before. Most speak at least some Gaelic, and there’s one native speaker. For me, it’s my 10th time here doing Gaelic song courses, and the 7th course I’ve done with Christine Primrose – the other song courses were with Joy Dunlop, Margaret Stewart and Mary Ann Kennedy.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Àrainn Chaluim Chille – the newer part of the college / Am pàirt as ùire den cholaiste

We learnt five songs on Monday, eleven yesterday, and another four today. Some of them I already know, or have at least heard before, which makes it easier to pick them up. Others are a bit more challenging with lots of verses, and complex melodies that change with every verse to fit to the words. Everything is taught by ear, and Christine likes to tell stories about the songs, the people who wrote them, and how life was at the time they were written. A lot of the songs are relatively old – from the 17th or 18th centuries, and have been passed on orally since then.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Àrainn Ostaig – the older part of the college / am pàirt as sine den cholaiste

On Monday night there was a pub quiz, which was good fun. The team I was in didn’t win, but we were only one point behind the winning team.

The people who study here and work here come from many different places and speak a variety of languages. I try to speak as much Scottish Gaelic as I can while I’m here – that’s one of the reasons why I come here – and I’ve also had conversations in French, Irish and Mandarin Chinese, and spoken odd bits of Welsh, German, Portuguese, Japanese, and even a bit of English.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
The views from here are quite nice / Tha na seallaidhean às an seo gu math snog

Last night there was a concert featuring Eilidh Shaw and Ross Martin, a husband and wife duo – he plays the guitar, and she sings and plays the fiddle. They write interesting songs and lively tunes in a traditional Scottish style and sounded great. It was also a nice way to celebrate my birthday.

We have a bit of time off today, and there’s a music session in the bar tonight. I was planning to go for a walk, but it’s raining quite a lot, so I’m spending my free afternoon relaxing in my room, learning a bit more Gaelic, writing nonsense like this, and reading.

Turas Fada (Long Journey)

Well, I finally arrived in Oban about an hour ago. It’s dark, it’s raining, and I’m about 3.5 hours late. I was hoping to see a bit of the town while it was still light, but at least I made it here. My trip from Bangor to Glasgow went smoothly, with most of the trains being on time and not too crowded. Things went a bit off the rails after that.

Oban / An t-Òban
The view from my hotel room on Sunday morning

When I arrived at Glasgow Queen Street station, I discovered that the train I was supposed to take to Oban was cancelled. Fortunately there was another, although I had to wait 2 hours, and it was late arriving in Glasgow, so more like 2.5 hours. It was a nice sunny day, though a bit windy, so I had a wander, sat in a café for a bit, did some work, and then we were off.

George Square, Glasgow
George Square, Glasgow

While I was waiting, I heard that the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye that I was planning to take tomorrow will not be sailing due to bad weather. So I had to find an alternative route. Fortunately there is a bus from Oban to Broadford on Skye (two buses, actually), and I’ve arranged a lift from there. If everything works out, I should be at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig by tomorrow afternoon.

Tyndrum / Taigh an Droma
Tyndrum / Taigh an Droma, where I changed buses

I’ve applied for compensation for my cancelled train from Glasgow to Oban, so might get some money back from that.

While I have a driving licence and could have rented a car (I don’t own one and never have), I prefer to travel by train, even though there are often delays, cancellations and other shenanigans.

One thing I like about travelling by train, or other public transport, is that you often overhear conversations in a variety of languages. Today, for example, I heard conversations in English, Welsh, Thai, French, Cantonese, Mandarin and German. There may have been other languages that I didn’t recognise as well.

Giving Up

I have some news – I’ve had enough of learning languages and am giving up, throwing in the towel, putting the fiddle in the roof, throwing a spoon, and throwing the axe in the lake.

Giving up

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I like speaking other languages, at least sometimes, but the process of learning them can be a bit tedious. I already speak some languages reasonably well and don’t currently need to learn any more, so maybe my time would be better spent doing other things.

My other main passion is music – I like to sing, to play instruments, and to write songs and tunes. I’ll be spending more time doing this, and will maybe even focus on one instrument, at least for a while, and learn to play it better.

The question is, which instrument? I have a house full of them, including a piano, harps, guitars, ukuleles, recorders, whistles, ocarinas, harmonicas, melodicas, a mandolin, a bodhrán and a cavaquinho.

The instrument I play most often at the moment is the mandolin, so maybe I should focus on that.

If you’ve noticed the date, you may realise that this post is in fact an April Fool. I’m not giving up on learning languages, and actually do enjoy the process, most of the time, and while I do want to improve my mandolin playing, I also want to improve my playing of other instruments.

Incidentally, let’s look at some ways to say that you’re giving up.

In English you might say you quit, you’re calling it a day, you’re calling it quits you’re throwing in the towel or the sponge or the cards, or you’re throwing up your hands.

Equivalent phrases in other languages include:

  • hodit flintu do žita = to throw a flint into the rye (Czech)
  • jeter le manche après la cognée = to throw the handle after the axe (French)
  • leggja árar í bát = to put oars in a boat (Icelandic)
  • do hata a chaitheamh leis = to throw your hat in (Irish)
  • gettare le armi = to throw away your weapons (Italian)
  • 匙を投げる (saji o nageru) = to throw a spoon (Japanese)
  • подня́ть бе́лый флаг (podnjat’ belyj flag) = to raise the white flag (Russian)
  • leig an saoghal leis an t-sruth = to let the world flow (Scottish Gaelic)
  • baciti pušku u šaš = to throw a gun into the sedge (Serbian)
  • kasta yxan i sjön = to throw the axe into the lake (Swedish)
  • rhoi’r ffidl yn y to = to put the fiddle in the roof (Welsh)

More details of these phrases can be found on Wiktionary.

Do you have any others?

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Madrugadores (Early Risers)

Are you a madrugador?

Madrugador...

I used to be, but now I’m more of a dormilón and a trasnochador.

Madrugador [ma.ð̞ɾu.ɣ̞aˈð̞oɾ] is a Spanish (and Portuguese) word that means an early riser, early bird or morning person, and as an adjective it means rising or waking early. [source].

Madrugador comes from madrugar (to get up early), from Vulgar Latin *mātūricāre (to wake up early), from Latin matūro (to ripen, mature, hasten, rush), from mātūrus (mature, ripe, early, soon), from Proto-Italic *mātus (ripeness) from the PIE *meh₂- (to ripen, to mature) [source].

Sometimes you can pack a lot of meaning into one word in Spanish, for example, madrugaba (I/he/she/it used to get up early) and madrugadores madrugaban (early risers used to rise early).

Related words include madrugada (dawn, early hours of the morning, before dawn) and madrugón (early riser, early bird, early start).

Words with similar meanings include tempranero (early, early-rising, early riser) [source] and mañanero (early rising, morning, early riser) [source].

How would you say early riser in other languages?

By the way, there’s a novel by Jasper Fforde called Early Riser that I would recommend.

If you’re a late riser, like me, then you’re a dormilón, which should not be confused with dormilona (reclining chair, nightgown), and if you stay up late, you could be described as a trasnochador (night owl, night bird) or a noctámbulo (active at night, sleepwalker, night owl) [source].

Are there interesting equivalents of late riser or night owl in other languages?

The English words mature and maturate (to ripen, bring to ripeness or maturity) come from the same Latin roots [source].

Apparently a quien madruga, Dios le ayuda (“God helps those who rise early”) or in other words the early bird gets the worm [source].

How would you say that in other languages?

Alternatively, you could say no por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano (“getting up earlier won’t make the sun rise sooner”) or in other words things will happen at their own time, you can’t rush art [source].

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Noodling About Nurdles

Do you like to nurdle?

The verb to nurdle can mean to gently waffle or muse on a subject which one clearly knows little about, which is something I do occasionally, or to score runs (in cricket) by gently nudging the ball into vacant areas of the field. It can also mean to shoot (a wink) into a position too close to the pot to be easily potted (in tiddlywinks).

As a noun, a nurdle is such a shot in cricket or tiddlywinks; cylindrical shaped pre-production plastic pellet used in manufacturing and packaging; or blob of toothpaste shaped like a wave, often depicted on toothpaste packaging [source].

Top view of my nurdle jar

The toothpaste nurdle, was apparently coined by the American Dental Association to educate the public about proper tooth brushing. It first appeared, as nerdle, in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in August 1996. The spelling later changed to nurdle. It is possible related to nodule, which comes from Latin nōdulus (small knot), from nōdus (knot) [source].

The 1958/59 ITV sketch show After Hours featured the olde English sport of drats, later known as nurdling. This might be one origin of the word [source].

The sport might even have older roots going back to pre-Roman Britain, or at least the 16th century in Dorset. See:
https://www.reddit.com/r/theocho/comments/11ysygr/the_ancient_sport_of_nurdling/
https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/1849991.a-nurdling-we-will-go/

Nurdling can also refer to the practise of collecting little plastic nurdles wash up on beaches [source].

Nurdle should not be confused with noodle, which as a verb means:

  • To play (a musical instrument or passage of music) or to sing (a passage of music) in an improvisatory or lighthearted manner.
  • To ponder or think about (something)
  • To play a musical instrument or to sing in an improvisatory or lighthearted manner; also, to play a series of ornamental notes on an instrument.
  • To ponder or think, especially in an unproductive or unsystematic manner; to muse.
  • To attempt in an informal or uncertain manner; to fiddle.

Other meanings are available. This possibly comes from the German word nudeln (o make music or sing listlessly; to make music or sing at a low pitch or volume, or in an improvisatory manner) [source].

Let’s finish with some wise words from the great Rambling Syd Rumpo a singer of silly folk songs played by Kenneth Williams on the BBC Radio comedy show Round The Horne:

Early one morning
Just as my splod was rising
I heard a maiden scream in the valley below
O don’t nurdle me
O never nurdle me
How could you use your cordwangle so!

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Whimperatives

When you ask someone to do something for you, but in an indirect kind of way, or in other words, you phrase an order or imperative obliquely as a question, this is apparently called a whimperative. For example, you might say “Would you mind closing the window?”, rather than the more direct “Please, close the window” or “Close the window!”. Or you might say “Why don’t you be quiet?” instead of “Be quiet” [source].

Do Not Discard It In The Void

This word was coined by Jerrold Sadock, a professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, in an essay he wrote in 1970. It’s a blend of whimper and imperative. Another term for a whimperative is interrogative directive [source].

A whimper is a low intermittent sob, and to whimper means to cry or sob softly and intermittently, to cry with a low, whining, broken voice, to whine, to complain, or to say something in a whimpering manner [source].

It is probably of imitative origin, or may by related to wimmern (to whimper, moan) in German. The words wimp and wimpy possibly come from whimper, and were likely influenced by the charcter J. Wellington Wimpy in the Popeye comics [source].

Always Tuesday - Bijou Planks 81/365

The word imperative (essential, crucial, expressing a command) comes from the Latin word imperātīvus (of or proceeding from a command, commanded), from imperō (to comand, give orders to, demand, rule, govern), from in- (in) and parō (to arrange, order, resolve) [source].

Words from the same roots include pare (to cut away the outer layer from something, especially a fruit or a vegetable) in English, parer (to adorn, bedeck, fend off) in French, parer (to stop, halt, put up, lift, stand up) in Spanish and paratoi (to prepare) in Welsh [source].

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Clinking Hardware

Yesterday I discovered that a hardware store in French is a quincaillerie [kɛ̃.kaj.ʁi]. This word can also refer to hardware, ironmongery or junk, or in French, une ensemble hétéroclite de choses inutiles (a motley collection of useless things) [source]

Quincaillerie

Quincaillerie comes from quincaille (hardware, utensils) a variant of clincaille [klɛ̃.kaj], which is related to clinquant [klɛ̃.kɑ̃] (flashy, kitsch, pretentious), from clinquer [klɛ̃.ke] (to rattle, make a metalic noise), which comes from the onomatopeic word clic (click).

Similar words exist in Spanish: quincallería (hardware store) and quincalla (low-value hardware, junk). They were borrowed from French [more details].

Incidentally, the word clinquant [ˈklɪŋkənt] also exists in English, and was borrowed from French, which was possibly borrowed from Dutch klinken (to sound, ring, clink), As an adjective it means glittery, gleaming, sparkling, dressed in, or overlaid with, tinsel finery, and as a noun it means Dutch metal, tinsel or glitter [source].

Computer / IT hardware is matérial (informatique) or hardware in French [source] and computer software is logiciel [source].

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Overflowing Vases

The French equivalent of the saying “the straw that broke the camel’s back” or “the last / final straw” is la goutte d’eau qui fait déborder le vase (the drop of water that makes the vase overflow). Which makes as much a sense, and no animals are harmed.

La goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase. it's the straw that breaks the camel's back

These sayings mean “The final additional small burden that makes the entirety of one’s difficulties unbearable.” The earliest known version in English appears in a debate between Thomas Hobbes and John Bramhall in 1677: ‘the last Feather may be said to break a Horses Back’.

It is thought to be based on the Arabic proverb: اَلْقَشَّة اَلَّتِي قَصَمَت ظَهْر اَلْبِعِير⁩ (al-qašša allatī qaṣamat ẓahr al-biʕīr), or “The straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Other versions in English include:

  • It is the last straw that overloads the camel (1799)
  • It was the last ounce that broke the back of the camel (1832)
  • The last straw will break the camel’s back (1836)
  • As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back (1848)
  • This final feather broke the camel’s back (1876)
  • The straw that broke the donkey’s back
  • The last peppercorn breaks the camel’s back
  • The melon that broke the monkey’s back
  • The feather that broke the camel’s back
  • The straw that broke the horse’s back
  • The hair that broke the camel’s back
  • The last ounce broke the camel’s back

There is also “the last drop makes the cup run over”, and variations on that theme in English.

Versions in quite a few other languages also refer to overflowing cups or other vessels, for example:

  • German: der Tropfen, der das Fass zum Überlaufen bringt.
    the drop that makes the barrel overflow
  • Italian: la goccia che fa traboccare il vaso
    the drop of water that makes the glass overflow
  • Russian: ка́пля, перепо́лнившая ча́шу (káplja, perepólnivšaja čášu)
    the drop that made the bowl overflow
  • Turkish: bardağı taşıran son damla
    the last drop that makes the glass overflow

There are, however, quite different versions in some languages:

  • Scottish Gaelic: théid capall don choille ach brisidh aon uallach a chridhe
    the colt will go to the forest, but one burden will break his heart
  • Welsh: pennog gyda phwn dyrr asgwrn cefn ceffyl
    adding a herring to a load break’s a horse’s backbone (not sure of this translation)

Are there interesting equivalents of this saying in other languages?

Sources: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_straw_that_broke_the_camel%27s_back#English
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_that_broke_the_camel%27s_back
https://geiriaduracademi.org/
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-last-straw.html

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Various Verses

Did you know that there’s a whole world out there beyond your screen?

Bangor

It may be hard to believe, but apparently it does exist, and I even venture out into it occasionally.

What is this mythical place?

It has various names – some call it IRL (in real life) or RL (real life). Others call it the physical world or meatspace.

Meatspace, which is also written meat-space or meat space, is used online (often derogatorily) to refer to “the physical world, as opposed to the virtual world of the Internet.“ It was coined as analogy with cyberspace [source], and started to be used in the 1990s [source].

While writing this, I was thinking of other ways to refer to the real, physical world, and came up with realverse – an analogy of metaverse (see below). Apparently this word is already in use, at least to some extent. There are examples in this article: How to Connect #Metaverse to #Realverse.

The -verse suffix is used quite a bit in English at the moment. Some examples include:

  • multiverse = The hypothetical group of all the possible universes in existence.
  • metaverse = A hypothetical future (counterpart or continuation of the) Internet, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space.
  • wikiverse = The entire collective scope of wikis.
  • gameverse = A universe depicted in one or more video games.
  • Buffyverse = The fictional world, or universe, which serves as the setting for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_terms_suffixed_with_-verse.

Do you know of any other ways to refer to the real world in English or other languages?

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Fictile Dairymaids

I came across an interesting word yesterday that I hadn’t seen before: fictile. It means capable of being moulded into the shape of an artifact or art work; moulded clay or earth; relating to earthenware, or capable of being led or directed. Synonyms include pliable and moldable.

Hopi Tewa Pot

Fictile comes from Latin fictilus, from fictus (feigned, fictitious, false), from fingō (to shape, fashion, form, deceive, pretend), from Proto-Italic *fingō (to knead, form), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeyǵʰ- (to knead, form, shape) [source].

Words for the same roots include: dairy, dough, feign, feint, fiction, figment and figure in English [source].

The word dairy comes from Middle English daierie (dairy, pantry, dairy farm), from daie/dey (dairymaid), from Old English dǣġe (maker of bread, baker, dairy-maid), from Proto-Germanic *daigijǭ (kneader of bread, maid), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeyǵʰ- (to knead, form) [source].

The word lady has similar roots: from Middle English ladie (the mistress of servants; female head of a household, manor, etc), from Old English hlǣfdīġe (mistress of a household, wife of a lord, lady), from hlāf (bread, loaf) and dīġe (kneader), which is related to dǣġe (maker of dough/bread). So a lady was originally a “bread-kneader” [source].

Incidentally, dough is used as a slang term for money, as is bread . This is thought to have started during the 19th century. Bread was a traditional everyday necessity of life, and to earn one’s living was to earn one’s bread, or crust, so bread, and the dough it’s made from, became synonymous with money [source].

The use of bread as slang for money may also be linked to Cockney Rhyming Slang – bread and honey = money. This should not be confused with bread and butter = gutter, or bread and cheese = sneeze [source].

Ways to “to earn a living” or “to earn a crust” in Welsh include ennill eich bara menyn (to earn one’s bread and butter) and ennill eich bara a chaws (to earn one’s bread and cheese).

Are there interesting ways to say “to earn a living” in other languages?

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