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 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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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

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

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Epsiode 28 – Languages in Fiction

In this episode I talk about how languages are used in, and invented for works of fiction, such as books, films and TV programmes. I also look at the ways writers indicate that characters are speakers in foreign languages without actually writing in those languages, and how accents are used for a similar effect in films and tv shows.

Fictional scripts on Omniglot

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

Wet Socks / Sanau Gwlyb – a tune I wrote on the harp in 2017.

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 22 – Numbers

In this episode I discuss numbers, counting, and some of the other ways to refer to numbers and amounts in English – there are a lot more than you probably realise.

Links

Information about numbers and numerals
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_numerals
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeral_prefix
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indefinite_and_fictitious_numbers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_large_numbers
https://www.omniglot.com/language/numbers/
https://www.omniglot.com/language/numerals.htm

Origins of hat-trick
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hat-trick

Numbers

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

Climbing the Stairs / Dringo’r Grisiau

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

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

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

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

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