Irish and Ndebele

Yesterday I went to Global Café, a group for international students which I’ve been going to on and off since I was a student myself. I use it as a chance to meet people and practise my languages, and I got to speak quite a few different languages last night, including Welsh, French, Irish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese and German. There were also speakers of Vietnamese, Arabic, Malay, Northern Ndebele, and probably other languages.

The most linguistically interesting person I met there was a guy who grew up in Ireland where he spoke Northern Ndebele at home, and was educated through the medium of Irish. He also learnt English and French at school, and is currently working on Mandarin and Welsh. His parents come from Zimbabwe, and his dad speaks about 10 languages. He had a bit of trouble with my Ulster Irish, but we managed to communicate okay. I don’t think I’ve met anyone else who speaks a Bantu and a Celtic language before.

What is the most unusual combination of languages you’ve come across?

2 thoughts on “Irish and Ndebele

  1. I suppose my own combination of Welsh and Latvian is fairly unusual – although my Latvian is very rusty and I have never quite achieved fluency in Welsh, owing to the lack of day-to-day use (I have not spoken Latvian in about 14 years). But they’re both Indo-European (albeit from opposite ends of Europe), so I can’t quite compete with your Irish- and Northern Ndebele-speaking friend.

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