Fighting Combs

The Scots word fecht [fɛçt / feːçt / faeçt] means to fight, or to struggle in the battle of life against misfortune, poverty, etc. It comes from the Middle English fighten (to fight, battle, quarrel), from the Old English feohtan (to fight), from the Proto-West Germanic *fehtan (to fight), from the Proto-Germanic *fehtaną (to comb, detangle, struggle (with), fight, shear) from the Proto-Indo-European *peḱ- (to pluck, ruffle, tousle, shear) [source].

Related words include:

  • fecht, feicht = a fight
  • fechtand, feghtand = fighting
  • fechtar, fechter = one who fights (in battle or in brawls)
  • fechting, fechtine = engaging in fight or battle

Source: DSL Dictionaries of the Scots Language / Dictionars o the Scots Leid

I learnt about this word on a video on Tiktok by @misspunnypennie – part of her Scots word of the day series. This particular video is about the word ilka, which means each or every. The example she gives includes fecht and fechter:

Agin ilka sair fecht there’s a bonnie fechter
(Against every hard fight there’s a fearless fighter)

By the way, if you prefer to avoid Tiktok, you can find compilations of the Scots Word of Day videos, and Scots-related videos by Miss Punny Pennie (a.k.a. Len Pennie) on Twitter and YouTube. Here’s Len talking about Scots:

When I heard the words fecht and fechter, I thought they must be related to the Dutch words vechten [ˈvɛxtə(n] (to fight, fighting) and vechter (fighter, warrior), which I learnt recently – they are indeed related and come from the same Proto-West-Germanic root [source].

20170924-153745LC

Other words from the same Proto-West-Germanic root (*fehtan) include: fight in English, fäkta (to fence, fight) in Swedish, fechten (to fence, fight) in German, and фехтовать [fʲɪxtɐˈvatʲ] (to fence) in Russian, which was borrowed from German. To fence here means to fight with swords rather than to make a fence [source]

There is also a Dutch word related to ilkaelk, which means each or every [source].

Bonnets

What would you call a knitted woolen hat with a bobble on top?

Lost: red bobble hat

I would call it a bobble hat, and I discovered yesterday that in French such a hat is called un bonnet à pompons or un chapeau à pompons or simply un bonnet. What about in other languages?

Bonnet [bɔ.nɛ] also means hat, cap, beanie, knit cap, skully, stocking cap or (bra) cup. Other types of bonnet include:

  • bonnet d’âne = dunce’s cap
  • bonnet de bain = bathing cap, swimming hat
  • bonnet de nuit = nightcap
  • bonnet de police = forage cap
  • bonnet de douche = shower cap

A bigwig, or “person of consequence”, is un gros bonnet, and the French equivalent of six of one, half a dozen of the other is bonnet blanc, blanc bonnet.

Bonnet comes from the Middle French bonet, from the Old French bonet (material from which hats are made), from the Frankish *bunni (that which is bound), from the Proto-Germanic *bundiją (bundle), from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰendʰ- (to tie).

The English word bonnet comes from the same root, and can refer to various types of headgear, particularly a type of hat usually framing the face and tied with ribbons under the chin and worn mainly by females.

baby bonnets

In Scots a bonnet/bunnet refers to “A head covering for men or boys, including all kinds of caps, but not hats”.

Sources: ReversoDictionary, Wiktionary, Dictionaries of the Scots Language / Dictionars o the Scots Leid

Snirtle

An interesting word I learnt yesterday from the Something Rhymes With Purple podcast was snirtle, which means “to try to suppress your laughter (often without success)”.

laughing

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is Scots and means “to laugh with snorts”, and Wiktionary defines it as “to snigger” or “a snigger”.

According to Dictionaries of the Scots Language /
Dictionars o the Scots Leid
, snirtle [ˈsnɪrtəl] is a variation of snirt, which means “to snigger, to make a noise through the nose when attempting to stifle laughter, to sneer”, “to snort, to breathe sharply and jerkily through the nose”, or “a snigger, a suppressed laugh”.

Some related expressions and examples of how it’s used:

  • to snirt(le) (with)in one’s sleeve = to snigger surreptitiously
  • to snirt out a-laughing = to burst out into laughter, after having unsuccessfully tried to stifle it
  • The young were snirtin’ in their sleeves
  • He snirtled in an ecstasy of disgust
  • Mary, still choking, snirted tea over the table

Snirtle and snirt are probably initative of the sounds you make when you snirt or snirtle.

Are there words with similar meanings in other languages?

Blithely Blithesome

The Dutch word blij [blɛi] means happy, glad, pleased or delighted. It comes from the Middle Dutch blide (happy, cheerful, joyous), from the Old Dutch *blīthi (calm, happy), from the Proto-West Germanic *blīþī (happy), from the Proto-Germanic *blīþiz (serene, mild, pleasant, pleasing, delightful, friendly), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlī- (light, fine, pleasant) from *bʰleh₁-/*bʰel- (to shine) [source].

Blij ei

Here are some related words and examples of how it’s used (from bab.la and Reverso):

  • blijdschap = joy, gladness
  • verblijden = to gladden, delight
  • blij zijn = to be glad, rejoice, enjoy, be happy
  • blij maken = to gladden, cheer up
  • heel blij zijn = to burst with joy
  • blij zijn met een dode mus = to get all excited about nothing (“to be happy with a dead mouse”)
  • Ik ben blij dat je ervan zult genieten = I’m glad you’ll enjoy it
  • Ik ben blij je eindelijk te ontmoeten = I’m pleased to finally meet you
  • Niet iedereen zal hiermee blij zijn = Not everyone is going to be happy with this

Words from the same root include the Swedish word blid [bliːd] (mild, kind), the Danish word blid [ˈbliðˀ] (gentle) and the word blíður, which means kind, obliging, mild, tender, affable, friendly or good-natured in Icelandic, and hospitable, hearty, friendly, sincere, pleased, mild or smooth in Faroese [source].

The English word blithe [blaɪð / blaɪθ] also comes from the same root, via the Middle English blithe (glad, happy, joyful; gentle, mild; gracious, merciful; bright, shining; beautiful, fair), and the Old English bliþe [ˈbliː.θe/ˈbliː.ðe] (happy, gentle) (to shine) [source].

It means carefree and lighthearted, or very happy or cheerful, and also lacking or showing a lack of due concern, heedless, casual and indifferent [source].

It tends to be used in certain expressions, such as:

  • He spoke with blithe ignorance of the true situation.
  • She had a blithe disregard for their feelings.

Some related (and rarely-used) words include blitheful (joyous), blitheless (sorrowful, sad, pitiful, miserable, wretched), blithely (without care, concern or consideration; or in a joyful, carefree manner), blithen (to be(come) happy), and blithesome (happy or spriteful, carefree).

Blithe [bləið] is more commonly used in Scottish English and in Scots, and means joyous, cheerful, happy, glad or well-pleased. A related word, used particularly in Orkney and Shetland, is blithemeat, which is a thanksgiving feast after the birth of a child [source].

In Shetland blithe is written blyde and means glad. Here are the Blyde Lasses, a folk duo from Shetland:

Overnighting

If I asked you, “Where are you overnighting?”, you might think it a bit strange, except in certain circumstances, but you’d probably guess that I meant “Where are you staying (overnight)?”.

In Swedish, I discovered this week, this wouldn’t sound strange – Var övernattar du? is one way to say “Where are you staying?”.

The verb övernatta (“to overnight”), means to stay overnight or to stay the night. Övernattning means a sleepover, overnight or accommodation, and övernattningsstuga means a refuge.

Apparently övernatta is usually used to refer to staying for one night, but sometimes for two of three nights as well.

Other ways to say to stay in Swedish include:

  • sova över = to stay the night (“to sleep over”)
  • stanna (över natten) = to stay (overnight)
  • sitta inne = to be / stay indoors

In Scotland if someone asks you “Where do you stay?”, or in Scots “Whaur dae ye stey?”, they usually mean “Where do you live (permanently)?” and not “Where are you staying (temporarily)?” When I first heard this, it confused me a bit, but I’m used to it now. Another way to say this in Scots is “Whaur dae ye bide?”.

In Scots to stey means to stay, stop, dwell, reside, make one’s home. So it seems that it can mean both to stay somewhere temporarily, and to live somewhere permanently.

AirBnB in Petržalka

Sources: bab.la, Ord.se, Dictionar o the Scots Leid

The Isles

The main theme of the Language Event I went to last weekend in Edinburgh was the languages of the Isles. The Isles in question include the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and about 6,000 other islands. The Isles are also known as the British Isles, but at the event the term ‘The Isles’ was used to be more inclusive.

British Isles, Like a Map 1

The term “British Isles” is controversial in Ireland, where some object to its usage. The Government of Ireland does not officially recognise the term, and its embassy in London discourages its use. Britain and Ireland is used as an alternative description, and Atlantic Archipelago is also used to some extent by academics [source].

Other suggested names for these isles include the Anglo-Celtic Isles, the British-Irish Isles, the Islands of the North Atlantic, the West European Isles, the Pretanic Isles, or these islands [source].

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is one of the countries on these isles. The Republic of Ireland takes up most of the island of Ireland and some small offshore islands. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are self-governing British Crown dependencies, and not part of the UK.

The earliest mentions of the isles are found the writings of Diodorus Siculus (c.90-30 BC), a Greek historian living in Sicily. He referred to the isles as Prettanikē nēsos (the British Island), and to the inhabitants as Prettanoi (the Britons). Strabo (c.64 BC-24 AD), a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor, referred to the isles as Βρεττανική (Brettanike), and Marcian of Heraclea called them αἱ Πρεττανικαί νῆσοι (the Prettanic Isles).

It is thought that the names used by Greek and Latin writers for these isles were based on the Celtic names for them

In Welsh these isles are known as Ynysoedd Prydain, or yr Ynysoedd Prydeinig (the British Isles). The name Prydain [ˈprədai̯n] (Britain) comes from the Middle Welsh Prydein, from early Proto-Brythonic *Pritanī, from the Old Irish Cruthin (Picts), perhaps from the Proto-Celtic *Kʷritanī / *Kʷritenī, from the Proto-Indo-European *kʷer- (to do).

The Welsh word Prydyn / Pryden, meaning (people of) Scotland, or (land of the) Picts, is related [source].

In Cornish these isles are knowns an Enesow Bretennek (the British Isles). In Scottish Gaelic they’re known as Eileanan Bhreatainn (British Isles). In Scots they’re known as Breetish Isles, and in Manx they’re known as Ellanyn Goaldagh (British Isles) [source].

In Irish these isles are known as Éire agus an Bhreatain Mhór (Ireland and Great Britain), Oileáin Iarthair na hEorpa (Islands of Western Europe) or Oileáin Bhriotanacha (British Isles), although the latter is not much used (see above) [source].

I had a great time at the Language Event, meeting old friends and making news ones, listening to some interesting talks, practising my languages, and exploring bits of Edinburgh. Similar events will be held in Auckland and Melbourne soon, but the next polyglot / language-related event I’m planning to go to is the Polyglot Gathering in Tersin in Poland at the end of May.

New Year

It seems that a new year, and indeed a new decade has started, so Happy New Year / Decade!

I’ve noticed that some people are looking back at what they’ve done / achieved, etc over the past decade, so I thought I’d do something similar.

Back in 2009 I was studying for an MA in Linguistics at Bangor University, while working on Omniglot in my spare time, and writing for a couple of other websites. I finished my course in September of that year, though didn’t officially graduate until the following year, and have been working full-time on Omniglot since then.

Over the past decade Omniglot has grown quite a bit – I add something new, or make improvements, almost every day. The site now contains:

… and much more.

Since 2009 Omniglot has been visited by 176 million people, who have made 234 milion visits and viewed 407 million pages. There have been visitors every single country and territory, even Antarctica and North Korea. The top ten countries vistors come from are USA, India, UK, Canada, Philippines, Australia, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa. The most spoken languages of visitors are: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Dutch, Russian, Chinese and Polish.

Over the past decade I’ve studied and dabbled with a few languages, including: Breton, BSL, Cornish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Icelandic, Irish, Latin, Manx, Romanian, Russian, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Toki Pona. I also started creating my own language: Laala, and made some con-scripts such as Crymeddau and Curvetic.

I joined a French conversation group back in 2009, and have been going almost every week since then. This has really helped to improve my French and I feel a lot more confident about using it now. When I can, I also go to a Welsh conversation group, and for a while I tried to run a polyglot conversation group.

Every summer I’ve been to Ireland to do courses in Irish language, traditional Irish songs, harp and/or bodhrán playing. I’ve also been to Scotland quite a few times to do courses in Scottish Gaelic songs.

In 2012 I started writing songs and tunes, and have written quite a few since then, especially in 2019, when I wrote a new song almost every month and several new tunes. I also started to write out the music for my tunes and songs, and to make new arrangements of them.

The first song I wrote was The Elephant Song, which came to me after going to a poetry writing workshop.

I haven’t made a good recording of my most recent song, but here’s one I wrote in November / December 2019:

Since 2014 I’ve been to a number of polyglot events, including the Polyglot Gathering and the Polyglot Conference. At most of these I’ve given talks or run workshops.

Polyglottery

In 2018 I started the Radio Omniglot Podcast, and have made 27 episodes so far. I try to make two episodes per month, but don’t always manage it.

In 2018 I also launched the Celtiadur, a collection of Celtic cognates, where I explore links between modern and ancient Celtic languages. This is an extension of the Celtic Cognates section on Omniglot.

Wow! Putting it together like this makes me realise that I haven’t been entirely idle.

Do you tartle?

An interesting word I heard the other day is tartle. It’s a Scots word that means “To hesitate, to be uncertain as in recognising a person or object; to boggle, “as a horse does”; to hesitate about clinching a bargain.” or “To recognise, esp. after some uncertainty, to discern”.

An example of how it is used is: “I tartled at him, I could not with certainty recognise him.”

The related adjective, tartlesome, means “disposed to start objections, captious*”.

*Captious [ˈkæpʃəs] = “apt to notice and make much of trivial faults or defects; faultfinding; difficult to please.” [source].

Source: Dictionary of the Scots Language / Dictionar o the Scots Leid.

I heard tartle on the Something Rhymes with Purple podcast, where it’s defined as “to hesitate when introducing someone because you’ve forgetten their name”.

To avoid tartling, I just don’t use people’s names, except when necessary. Although I find that if I repeat someone’s name several times after being introduced to them, I’m more likely to remember it.

Do you have any good ways to remember name, and to avoid tartling?

Bratislava

I’m currently in Bratislava in Slovakia for the 2019 Polyglot Gathering, which starts tomorrow, although there was an opening ceremony this evening.

The Polyglot Gathering 2019 begins

Today I went on a tour taking in three countries – Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. I had conversations in English, French, German, Mandarin, Spanish and Irish, and spoke odd bits of Czech, Slovak, Russian, Scots, Hungarian, Portuguese, Welsh, Esperanto and Swedish.

Hainburg Castle

I probably won’t have much time for blogging with all the intensive polylgotting that’s going on. Normal service will be resumed next week.

Thrapple & Wabbit

Thrapple & Wabbit, Solicitors, Establised 1729
If someone said to you, “A’m gey wabbit, an a’v a sair thrapple comin on”, would you have any idea what they were talking about?

This is an example of Scots from L Colin Wilson’s Luath Scots Language Learner. It means, “I’m very tired, and I’ve a sore throat coming on”.

Wabbit, is a childish pronunciation of rabbit in English, and means exhausted, tired out, played out, feeble or without energy in Scots. It is also written wubbit, wibbit or wappit [source]., and it’s not certain where it comes from [source].

Here are some examples of how it’s used:

  • She sat doon, clean wabbit oot, pechin’. = She sat down, completely tired out, panting.
  • You’re lookin’ fair wubbit. What ails ye the day? = You’re looking quite tired. What is wrong with you today?

Thrapple [ˈθrɑpəl], means the windpipe, gullet or throat; to grip by the throat, throttle, strangle; to suppress (laughter) in the throat; to entangle with cords; to gobble up, to devour. It is also written thropple or throapple [source].

It is not certain where it comes from, but may be realted to the English dialect word thropple (larynx, windpipe), which comes from the Old English þrotbolla (windpipe) [source].

Here are some examples of how it’s used:

  • Yer thrapple shuts ticht wi’ the kink-hoast. = Your throat shuts tightly with the chincough (a breath drawn when coughing or laughing).
  • knot o’ the thrapple = Adam’s apple
  • thrapple-deep = up to one’s throat
  • thrapple-girth = a cravat or necktie

Thrapple & Wabbit would be a good name for a firm of solicitors / lawyers perhaps, or a comedy double act.