bookmark_borderDyr look like animals

Originally uploaded by Spider.Dog

A few days ago, I removed a few bricks that had been placed on top of the lawn for a while, and beneath there were plenty of centipedes, worms, spiders, ants and woodlice.

Léon was watching with great interest, and afterwards he went in to tell Phyllis:

– Mum, there were dyr under the stenene, and they looked like animals!

It so typical of a bilingual kid to know the same word in two languages (here “dyr” and “animals”), but not to equate them. Fully bilingual kids are normally crap at translating literally.


[365-238] Blair
Originally uploaded by Adam (adamjinj)

This article by Tony Blair’s former speech writer contains a shocking revelation:

A few years ago, I took the Conservative manifesto for the 1997 general election, deleted all the insulting references to the State that would never appear in a Labour document, and circulated the expurgated text as if I had thought it all up myself. My colleagues in Downing Street thought it was an accurate but uninteresting account of the Labour Government’s policy. They were mystified as to why I thought it worth sending round.

It does remind me of the final sentence of Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

bookmark_borderThinking in languages

I’m thinking of…
Originally uploaded by gutter

Phyllis says people have often asked her whether her kids are thinking in English or French when they are speaking the latter, and I remember being asked similar questions when I was a kid.

I must admit I find it a puzzling question because I don’t think of thinking as being in a language most of the time. I’d say something like 4/5 of thought happens in swift, intuitive, pictorial ways, and it’s only put into words in a final output stage.

So when I’m speaking Spanish (just to take a language I’m fairly fluent in but where I have severe gaps in my vocabulary), most of my thinking is the same as the same as if I had been speaking Danish, but when I have to output it, I have to express myself using fewer words, and I will occasionally be unable to express exactly what I wanted to say. That doesn’t mean I have a word or a sentence ready in Danish, just that I’m thinking of a concept that doesn’t have an output mapping.

So I must say I disagree with Wittgenstein: Die Grenzen meiner Sprache sind nicht die Grenzen meiner Welt.

bookmark_borderOur address in Gaelic

The house we’re buying
Originally uploaded by viralbus

I was trying to figure out what our address is in Gaelic.

“Glasgow” is of course Glaschu, and according to Wikipedia, “Newton Mearns” is Baile Ùr na Maoirne.

According to the same source, “Kinloch” is normally Ceann Loch (“head of the loch”).

However, I’m not certain what “Kinloch Road” would be. “Road” is of course rathad, but what about the genitive? “Kinloch Castle” is Caisteal Cheann Locha (although some sources add the article and don’t aspirate: Caisteal Ceann an Locha), so that is probably the best pattern to follow.

Our address is thus:

27 Rathad Cheann Locha (or 27 Rathad Ceann an Locha)
Baile Ùr na Maoirne
Glaschu G77 6LY