Linguistic adventures

This week I have been speaking quite a bit of Irish. Even though I rarely speak it at home, it is usually there when I need it. When trying to understand songs or poems in Irish, I realise that there are plenty of gaps in my vocabulary, but I can at least get the gist of them.

On Monday night there was a little Russian-speaking corner in the pub made up of three Belarusians, a Bulgarian, and me. I was able to understand quite a bit of what the others were saying in Russian, and to join in occasionally.

Yesterday I learnt a bit about Finnish language and culture from the Finnish guy who is doing the harp course. He told me that Finns tend to be less talkative than people from other countries, but that there is a lot of non-verbal communication between them.

I have also had opportunities to speak a bit of German, and have learnt a bit about German musical terms. For example, in German musical notes are not A to G, but A to H – H refers to B, and B refers to B♭, which is slighly confusing to someone used to the English system.

Do musical notes have other names in your language, or in other languages you know?

5 thoughts on “Linguistic adventures

  1. Indonesian uses the English letters. The German system is used in other countries, too, including Russia—Dmitri Shostakovich used a little D-S (Es, or E flat)-C-H signature in some of his works.

  2. Many European countries use an absolute Tonic Sol-Fa system, where ‘Do’ is ‘C’, ‘Fa’ is ‘F’, ‘Sol’ is ‘G’ etc. In Anglophone countries, Tonic Sol-Fa is generally only used for relative pitches (i.e. the degrees of any major scale) – and it has ‘Soh’ and ‘Ti’ where most versions use ‘Sol’ and ‘Si’ – which can be confusing since ‘Si’ (representing ‘B’) sounds like English “C”.

  3. …I meant to say, of course, that the versions of Sol-fa using ‘Si’ for ‘B’ are a potential source of confusion when encountered by English-speaking musicians.

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