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 features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

The Elephant Song / Cân yr Eliffant

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
Total5,2386,143,981,545
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

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

Don’t forget that you can US$50 off the Polyglot Cruise 2020 by using the code OMNIGLOT.

Episode 18 – Adventures in Polyglotland

In this episode I bring you news from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering, an annual get-together of polyglots and language lovers from all over the world. This year the Polyglot Gathering took place in Bratislava, Slovakia for the third time – it started in 2015 in Berlin, and was there for three years, then moved to Bratislava. The next Gathering will be in Teresin, near Warsaw in Poland from 26-30 May 2020.

I was planning to interview people at the Gathering, and to keep an audio diary, but was enjoying myself too much and decided to give you a flavour of the event after I got home. So this is the story of my Adventures in Polyglotland.

My badge from the Polyglot Gathering showing the languages I speak fluently, or at least fairly well:

My badge from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering

N = native language, C = advanced level, B = intermediate level, A = basic / elementary level, en = English, cy = Cymraeg (Welsh), zh = 中文 [zhōngwén] – (Mandarin Chinese), ga = Gaeilge (Irish), es = español (Spanish), de = Deutsch (German), eo = Esperanto, gd = Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic), ja = Japanese, gv = Gaelg Vanninagh (Manx Gaelic), ru = Русский [Russkij] (Russian), cs = český (Czech), sv = Svenska (Swedish), da = Dansk (Danish).

Information about polyglot events: http://www.omniglot.com/events/

Music featured in this episode

Bear With Me / Aros am yr Arth

See the score for this tune

Echoes on the Tongue / Atseiniau ar y Tafod

See the score for this tune

Episode 13 – The Story of Omniglot

Omniglot logo

When people ask me what I do, I usually tell them that I write and talk about languages for a living, mainly on my website. This leads to more questions about what exactly my website is about, how I make money from it, and what I spend my days doing.

In this episode I try to answer these questions, and explain how Omniglot came to be, what my work involves, and how it generates revenue. I also suggest some ways you could turn your interests into online business.

Read more about the history of Omniglot.

The tunes featured in the episode are:

Goosing Around / Gwyddio o Gwmpas

Spring at Last / Gwanwyn o’r Diwedd

The recording I use in the podcast was generated by MuseScore (See a PDF of the score). The recording below features me on all the instruments.

Blue Skies / Awyr Las

In Episode 12 I slipped in a couple of made-up facts and challenged you to spot them. They were:

  1. There is a version of Cornish called Kernewek Gwir (True/Real Cornish) that is a continuation of traditional Cornish.
  2. There are a few parrots and other birds who can speak a bit of Cornish.

Although I made these up, there are people who believe that Cornish never ceased to be spoken, and it’s possible that someone has trained their parrot to speak some Cornish.

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation, or by contributing in other ways.





Episode 12 – Cornish (Kernewek)

In this episode I talk about Cornish, the Celtic language spoken in the southwest of Britain. I look at the history of the language, its decline and revival, and current status, and talk a bit about the language itself, and how I learnt it.

This is an example of An Mis, a monthly news programme in Cornish:

This is a song in Cornish, Tir Ha Mor (Land and Sea) by Gwenno Saunders, who grow up speaking Cornish, Welsh and English. It comes from her Album, Le Kov, which is entirely in Cornish.

More information about Cornish

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/cornish.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_language_revival
Kevas an taves Kernewek – The Cornish Language Board
Kowerthas an Yeth Kernewek – Cornish Language Fellowship
Cussel an Tavas Kernôwek – The Cornish Language Council
Agan Tavas
A Handbook of the Cornish Language by Henry Jenner
Cornish For All by Robert Morton Nance
Cornish Dictionary / Gerlyver Kernewek
Radyo An Gernewegva (Cornish language radio)
Pellwolok (Cornish language TV)

The tunes featured in this episode are tradtional Cornish tunes called An Awhesyth / The Lark and An Kulyek Hos / The Mallard, from An Daras The Cornish Folk Arts Project. They are played and recorded by me.

Epsiode 1 – My Language Learning Adventures

In this first episode of the Radio Omniglot Podcast, I talk about my own language learning adventures. About the languages I’ve learned, and how and why I learned them.

You can also read about my language learning adventures on Omniglot.

If you would like to take part in this podcast, you can contact me via Omniglot.

The music in this episode is a tune I wrote in January 2018 called Apple Blossom / Blodau Afal, played on the cavaquinho:

See the score for this tune

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