Episode 35 – Adventures in Etymology

In this episode I take you on an adventure in etymology, the study of where words come from, and how they have changed over time. I start with the word etymology, and see where I end up.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Push ad Pull / Gwthio a Thynnu

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Episode 33 – Giving Up

In this episode I talk about reasons why we stop learning learning langauges. Why we give up on them and quit. This is based on a poll I posted on the Omniglot Fan Club on Facebook.

Top reasons for giving up on a language include losing interest, not having enough time, getting distracted, another language seemed more interesting, and it being too hard.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Lifting the Lid / Codi’r Caead – a tune I wrote on the cavaquinho in 2020.

See the score of this tune

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 32 – Acutal Fluency

In this episode I talk to fellow podcaster and language nerd, Kris Broholm. He makes The Acutal Fluency Podcast, on which he talks to language learners about their language learning experiences and journeys. We talk about language learning, about Danish (Kris is from Denmark), and other language-related things.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Loose Moose / Yr Elc Rhydd – a tune I wrote on the harp in 2016.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 31 – Talent

In this episode I talk about talent, particularly talent for languages. Do some people have an innate talent for learning languages? Do others lack such a talent? If you don’t have a talent for languages, can you learn one anyway?

Further reading:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-innate-talent-a-myth/

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Little Red Boats / Cychod bach coch – a tune I wrote on the cavaquinho in 2017.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Epsiode 30 – Gibberish

In this episode I talk about, and in, Gibberish – what it is, where it comes from, how I learnt it, and possible reasons why some people find it difficult to learn.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Dancing on Custard / Dawnsio ar Gwstard – a tune I wrote on the harp in 2016.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

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Episode 29 – Language and Music

If you’re good at languages, does it follow that you’re good at music, and vice versa? In this episode I talk about links between languages and music. I explore similarities and differences between learning and using languages, and learning and playing music, based mainly on my own experiences.

Links

Languages and Music
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3338120/
https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/133/the-relationship-between-music-and-language

Edinburgh Language Event
https://edinburghlanguageevent.com/

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Whistling Windows / Y Ffenstri Sïo – a tune I wrote on various instruments in 2017.

See the score for this tune.

Here’s a video I made at a music session in Y Glôb, a pub in Bangor. Musicians from Wales, England, Singapore and France were there that night.

Sesiwn Cymreig yn y Glôb

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Episode 27 – I don’t trust that pig!

In this episode I talk about how learning silly, obscure and weird words and phrases, and playing with words can actually help you to learn languages.

Here are some screenshots of phrases I’ve collected in Czech, Danish, Esperanto, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish, mainly from Duolingo. Many of these phrases are rather silly, which is what makes them memorable:

Language Learning

Silly phrases on Omniglot

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

The Ballad of the Wug and the Cra – a song I wrote back in 2015 about made-up creatures that feature in linguistic experiments.

Mwmpwy Porthaethwy / Menai Bridge Fancy – this tune doesn’t feature in this episode, but is mentioned.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Episode 25 – Fishing for Words

In this episode I talk to a friend of mine, Ruth Fischer, about her experiences of learning and using languages. Ruth grew up in Wales speaking English at home, and learnt Welsh, French and German at school. She spent a year in Switzerland as an au-pair, which was good for her German and French, and has learnt bits and pieces of a few other languages, including Swedish, Danish and Icelandic.

I’ve known Ruth for quite a few years – we met at a singing class we used to go to, and have sung and played recorders together in various groups since then.

Here’s a photo of Ruth (in red), our friend Femke (in yellow), and me (in blue) taken in Llandudno. We were taking part in a game devised by Femke for LLAWN – Llandudno Arts Weekend.

The Kaliphones / Y Califfôns

Since January 2019 we have met regularly to talk about songs we’re writing, and to sing and play recorders together. In September 2019 we recorded some of our songs and put them on a CD for a member of our group, Rosie, who was too ill to attend at the time. Sadly she died in October 2019.

More information about SaySomethinginWelsh – courses also available in Spanish, Dutch, Latin, Cornish and Manx.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

The Bells of Hirael / Clychau Hirael – this tune has featured in a previous episode, but this version is for recorders.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.
See the score for this piece

Episode 21 – Benefits of learning small languages

In this episode I talk about some of the benefits and advantages of learning minority and lesser-studied languages, focusing particularly on the Irish and other Celtic languages. I talk about my own experiences with these languages, and the benefits they have brought me.

Gleann Cholm Cille
Gleann Cholm Cille

There’s no point in learning small languages, is there? They’re spoken by relatively few people and maybe only in one country or region. So why bother? It would be better to learn a language that has many millions of speakers and that is spoken in many countries, like Spanish or French, wouldn’t it? Perhaps, but whatever language you learn can bring benefits and opportunities, even small, lesser-studied and minority languages.

Scoil Shamraidh 2017

Tunes featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

The Elephant Song / Cân yr Eliffant

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Episode 20 – Language Families

In this episode I talk about language families – what they are, and how they develop, and I introduce some major and minor language families.

According to Wikipedia, a language family is “a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family”.

According to Ethnologue there are currently 142 different language families and 7,111 living languages. The ten largest languages families account for about 88% of the world’s population, and 74% of the world’s languages.

Top Ten Language Families

Language FamilyNumber of languagesNumber of speakers
Niger-Congo1,526 519,814,033
Austronesian1,223325,862,510
Trans-New Guinea4783,580,507
Sino-Tibetan4531,385,995,195
Indo-European4453,237,999,904
Afro-Asiatic365499,294,669
Australian20437,032
Nilo-Saharan20053,359,610
Otomanguean1771,715,045
Austro-Asiatic167116,323,040
Total5,2386,143,981,545

Here’s an illustration a the family tree of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages:

Elvish language family

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvish_languages_(Middle-earth)

More information about language families
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/langfam.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_family
https://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/family
https://www.mustgo.com/worldlanguages/language-families/

The tune featured in this episode

Dancing Donkeys / Asynnod sy’n Dawnsio

See the score for this tune

Costa Pacifica

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