If you have made any this year, are any of them related to languages?
I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions, and when I do, I rarely keep them. Sometimes I do manage to stick at things, at least for a while. Today, for example, my current streak on Duolingo reached 1,628 days. I’m learning Japanese and Spanish there, and keeping my Danish and Swedish ticking over. I’m also learning Dutch on Memrise, although I do miss occasional days. I don’t plan to learn any new languages for now, but who knows what could happen.
Meanwhile on Omniglot, I will carry on adding new material and improving the existing pages.
I’m taking a break from the monthly Radio Omniglot podcasts after reaching episode 50 in December, but will keep making the weekly Adventures in Etymology series and Omniglot News podcasts and videos. I also plan to add a new series – Celtic Routes – which will explore links within the Celtic language family, and between Celtic languages and other European languages. This will be based on my Celtiadur blog.
In other news, I’ve finally found a way to reduce some of the clutter of ads at the bottom of the pages on Omniglot.com using a PHP script that displays a different banner each time you refresh the page. Ideally there wouldn’t be any banners or other ads, but I do sort of need to make a living, and the ads help with that.
One of the things that really interests me is finding connections between languages. This is one reason why I enjoy working on Omniglot, and writing and talking about words and etymologies.
Recently I’ve been concentrating on Mayan languages, as you may have noticed. There are now details of all the Mayan languages currently in use on Omniglot, apart from Cauque Mayan, or Kaqchikel-K’iche’ Mixed Language, which is spoken in Santa María Cauqué in the Department of Sacatepéquez in southern Guatemala. If any of you know more about this language, do let me know.
When putting together these pages, particularly the numbers and phrases ones, I notice the similarities and differences between them, and I find patterns and connections, which is endlessly facsinating to me.
In a Celtiadur post I wrote yesterday, I discovered connections between words for thunder, tornado and Thursday in Celtic and other European languages.
When learning languages that are related to each other, such as Danish and Swedish, and/or related to languages I already know, I also find connections. Sometimes I have to dig deep into the origins of words to find those links, and this helps me remember them.
Are you learning, or have you learnt, several similar languages at the same time? Do you get them muddled at all? If not, how do you avoid confusion?
Yesterday I added details of a language called Akawaio (Ka’pon) to Omniglot. It’s a Cariban language spoken mainly in northern Guyana, and also in northern Brazil and eastern Venezuela, by about 6,380 people.
You may be wondering why I mention this. What’s so special about this language? Well, it just happens to be the 1,500th language I’ve written about on Omniglot, and it feels like a significant milestone to me. There are many more languages out there: 7,139, according to Ethnologue – so only another 5,639 to go! That should keep me busy for a while.
It’s becoming increasingly challenging to find information about languages that don’t yet appear on Omniglot. About 4,065 of the world’s languages have a written form, although many are rarely written, and the remaining 3,074 are probably unwritten [source]. There is little or no documentation for many languages, and what documentation there is can be difficult to find. Inspite of this, I will continue to add new language profiles to Omniglot, and appreciate any help you can offer.
I’ve been working on Omniglot on my own since 1998 – there are no minions or other assistants to help me. However, many other people have contributed to Omniglot, by sending me corrections, new material, suggestions, donations and so on, and I am profoundly grateful to all of them.
This is the 3,414th post I’ve written on this blog since launching it in March 2006. At first I tried to write something every day, but soon realised that was too much. At the moment I aim to write two posts a week, plus the language quiz on Sundays.
In April 2007 I started uploading videos to YouTube. Some of the videos feature silly little conversations in languages I’m learning. Others involve music-related events I’ve taken part in, and tunes and songs I’ve written. In 2021 I started uploading videos more regularly, particularly videos about words and etymology, and some songs as well. As well as the Adventures in Etymology videos I upload on Sundays, I plan to make videos featuring alphabets, phrases, etc in a variety of languages. Here’s one I made of the Danish alphabet:
In September 2018 I launched the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages. This is based the Celtic cognates part of Omniglot. So far I’ve written 227 posts, and add a new one every week.
Since 1998 I’ve become fluent in Welsh and Irish, regained my fluency in French, maintained my fluency in Mandarin Chinese, more or less, and have learned enough Esperanto, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Dutch to have at least basic conversations. I’ve also learnt quite a bit of Russian and Czech, and some Romanian, Cantonese, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Icelandic, Faroese, British Sign Language, Breton and Cornish.
I’m currently concentrating on Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Dutch, while trying to maintain my other languages, particularly French and Welsh. For the past 4 years or so I’ve studied languages every day on Duolingo – my current streak reached 1,369 today. I’ve also been using Mondly and Memrise. [More about my language learning adventures].
While not working on Omniglot or learning languages, I like to sing, play musical instruments and write songs and tunes. My musical adventures started long before Omniglot, but for many years after leaving school I only really listened to music. In 2005 I started going to Ireland every summer to learn Irish language, and also Irish songs, tunes and dances. This inspired me to take up music again. Since then I’ve learnt to play the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, cavaquinho and harp, and started playing the recorder, piano and tin whistle again. I’ve learnt songs in many different languages, and written quite a few songs and tunes.
Here’s a song I wrote in 33 different languages:
Enough of this shameless self-promotion. What about you? Have you reached any significant milestones recently?
Today I added details of a two languages to Omniglot: Dhurwa (ପରଜି / धुरवा), a Central Dravidian language spoken in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha in eastern India; and Paresi (Haliti), an Arawakan language spoken in the state of Mato Grosso in central Brazil.
The total number of language profiles on Omniglot is now 1,300 – only a few less than the 7,000 or so languages currently spoken! The total is actually a bit higher as some pages include details of more than one language, but 1,300 is a nice round number.
So it’s unlikely I’ll run out of languages to add, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find information, especially about how languages are written and pronounced. If you know where to find such details about any languages not already on Omniglot, do let me know.
Bore ddoe mi wnes i tipyn bach o waith ar Omniglot – wi wnes i ateb e-byst yn bennaf, fel arfer. Tua hanner dydd mi es i i’r prifysgol i weld perfformiadau gan myfyrwyr presennol yr adran Astudiaethau Asia Dwyrain. Mi wnaethon nhw perfformio tipyn bach o opera Beijing yn Mandarineg a Saesneg, ac mi wnaethon nhw adrodd sonedau Shakespeare yn Saesneg a Thai, ac mi wnaeth ferch yn canu cân pop yn Siapaneg. Mi wnaeth athrawes Thai dawns Thai traddodiadol hefyd. Mi wnes i crwydro o gwmpas Leeds am sbel yn y prynhawn, a gyda’r nos roedd pryd o fwyd yn nhŷ bwyta Tsieineaidd efo cynfyfyrwyr ac athrawon. Ro’n i ar fwrdd efo cynfyfyrwyr o 1995. Roedd y bwyd yn flasu iawn, ac mi wnes i mwynhau’r noson yn fawr.
Yesterday morning I did a bit of work on Omniglot – I mainly answered emails, as usual. At about midday I went to the university to see performances by current students in the East Asian Studies department. They performed bits of Beijing opera in Mandarin and English, and they recited some of Shakespeare’s sonnets in English and Thai, and one lass sang a Japanese pop song. A Thai lecturer also did a traditional Thai dance. I had a wander around Leeds in the afternoon for a while, and in the evening there was a meal in a Chinese restaurant with alumni and staff. I was on a table with alumni from 1995. The food was delicious, and I really enjoyed the evening.
Mi wnes tipyn bach o waith y bore ‘ma, ac ar ôl cinio mi wnes i dysgu mwy o Lydaweg, mi wnes ymarfer fy medrau sircas, ac mi wnes i canu’r gitâr, y piano a rhyw offer eraill. Mi wnes i dechrau sgwennu cân newydd hefyd – cân y fydd yn cymysgu diarhebion, ymadroddion a llafarddulliau efo’n gilydd mewn moddion diddorol a doniol. Does dim tôn eto, ond mae gen i rhyw llinellau o eiriau. Enw y gân ydy ‘How many roads?’ a dyma’r llinell gyntaf: ‘How many roads must a chicken cross, before it grows any teeth?’.
I did some work this morning, and after lunch I learnt a bit more Breton, practised my circus skills, and played the guitar, piano and a few other instruments. I also started to write a new song, which will mix proverbs, sayings, idioms in interesting and amusing ways. I don’t have a tune yet, but I have a few lines of words. The name of the song is ‘How many roads?’ and here’s the first line: ‘How many roads must a chicken cross, before it grows any teeth?’.
Fel arfer, mi wnes i tipyn bach o waith y bore ‘ma – mi wnes i ateb e-byst a rhoi recordiadau newydd ar y tudalen ymadroddion Sinhaleg – ac roedd sesiwn cerddoriaeth yma yn y prynhawn. Roedd tri ohonon ni yma y prynhawn ‘ma yn chwarae amrywiad o offerynau a cherddoriaeth. Gyda’r hwyr mi es i i’r côr cymunedol Bangor ac mi wnaethon ni’n canu caneuon yn Saesneg, Cymraeg a Xhosa, ac roedd llawer o bobl yna, yn cynnwys rhyw pobl newydd.
As usual, I did a bit of work this morning – I answered emails and put new recordings in the Sinhala phrases page – and there was a music session here in the afternoon. There were three of us here this afternoon playing a variety of instruments and music. In the evening I went to the Bangor Community Choir and we sang songs in English, Welsh and Xhosa, and there were plenty of people there, including some new ones.
Dydd eitha nodweddiadol oedd ddoe efo tipyn bach o waith yn bore, ac yn y prynhawn mi wnes i ymarfer y piano, y gitár ac offerynnau eraill, ac mi wnes i dysgu tipyn bach mwy o Lydaweg. Gyda’r nos mi wnes i darllen, a gwilio rhaglen teledu arlein. Heno roedd tri ohonon ni yn yr grŵp sgwrsio amlieithog, ac mi wnaethon ni siarad yn y Gymraeg ac yn Ffrangeg yn bennaf. Ar ôl hynny mi es i i Global Café, grŵp ar gyfer myfyrwyr rhyngwladol a lleol, a phobl eraill, a mi wnes i cwrdd a llawer o bobl gwahanol, a ges i gyfleoedd i siarad sawl ieithoedd, yn cynnwys Mandarineg, Cantoneg, Ffrangeg, Eidaleg, Sbaeneg ac Almaeneg.
Yesterday was a fairly typical day with a bit of work in the morning, and I practised the piano, guitar and other instruments in the afternoon, and learnt a bit more Breton. In the evening I read and watched a television programme online. This evening there were three of us in the polyglot group and we talked mainly in Welsh and French. After that I went to Global Café, a group for international students and locals students, and others, and I met lots of different people and had opportunities to speak many languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, French, Italian, Spanish and German.
Ren mee arran jea, as haink eh lane via y cheayrt shoh – dirree eh as ta blass mie er. Riyr hie mee dys cuirrey kiaull yindyssagh syn ollooscoill – va bannyn phrash voish Beaumaris, Menai Bridge as Deiniolen cloie ry-cheilley as ry-shaghey.
Arán agus bannaí práis
Rinne mé arán inné, agus tá sé réasúnta maith – d’ardaigh sé an uair seo agus tá blas maith air. Aréir chuaigh mé chuig ceolchoirm iontach san ollscoil – bhí bannaí práis ó Beaumaris, Menai Bridge agus Deiniolen ag seinm le chéile agus ina n-aonar.
Bara a bandiau pres
Mi nes i bara ddoe, ac roedd o’n ddim yn ddrwg – mi gododd o y tro hwn ac mae genno fo blas da. Neithiwr es i i gyngerdd wych yn y brifysgol – roedd bandiau pres o Fiwmares, Porthaethway a Deiniolen yn chwarae gyda’i gilydd ac ar eu pennau eu hunain.