Language of the British Isles
Cassidy & Salli

Yes, yes, yes English (and Welsh and Scotish and Gaelic) are spoken there. But British English is sometimes quite different from American English. (A good read on the topic is Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" or "Made in America.")We picked up an assortment of words and expressions in the mother tongue(s) from friends, signs, books, menus and cards.

queues = lines
way out = exit
pants = underwear
trousers = pants
washing up liquid = dish detergent
whilst = while
half seven = half past seven or seven thirty
fag = cigarette
corn = wheat
maize = corn
surgery = doctor's office
thundery = stormy
Hoover = vacuum (both noun and verb!)
brilliant or brill = wonderful, charming, exciting, cool
bollux = damn as in "Oh bollux!" (or "to bollux" something, meaning to mess it up)
to get bollocked = to get told off
naff = bad taste (kitsch)
beezer = great
gob smacked = breathless, speechless
knackered = to be really tired, exhausted
nicker = one pound
tap = faucet
arse around, muck about = fooling around
retail therapy = shopping

Cassidy examines the house of William Shakespeare
in the town of Avon.

Gaelic (Irish)/English

an idirlíon = internet
Bealtaine = May (and the sacred spring festival)
fáilte = welcome
mara = sea
inis or oileán = island
aill = cliff
trá = strand
loc = lake
gall = stranger
bó = cow
bótar = road (two cow path)
bóitrín = narrow road (one cow path)
rath=stone fort
crannog=island settlement
dingle = fortress
kylemore, or coill mór = a large wood
glás = green
dub = black
ceol = music
naom = saint
cill = church
slánte = good health (a good Irish toast!)
go raibh maith agat = thank you
dia dhut = hello (or God be with you)
slán leat = good bye
óiche mhaith = good night
la brea = fine day
craic=a good time (music, dancing, talking, drinking, joking, fun)
bodhran=Irish drum

Irish Expressions

Níl aon tíntean mar do tínteán fein = "There's no place like home" or literally, "There is no fireside like your own fireside" or (in German) "my house is my world."

Céad míl fáilte = "A hundred thousand welcomes"

Throughout the Irish countryside one finds ancient sites such as this neolithic rock wedge tomb.
At a Welsh farm we awoke one morning in the very merry month of May to discover snow.

After looking at Welsh names and other words, we know where the Hawaiians got all those extra vowels. The Welsh language has a dearth of them! We tried our hand at pronunciation, but failed miserably. A few rules are:


dd = th
ll=cl (more or less)
and w can be either w or ‘oo'
bore da = good morning
da boch = goodbye
diolch yn fawr = thank you
ysgol = school
llath = yard or yards
heddlu = police
yma = here
croeso = welcome
toiledau = toilet
parc = park
hammedon = leisure
di'wedd = end
gwnt ochre = side wind
ystate = estate
nawr = now

We also picked up a few Welsh words from the menu in the McDonald's restaurant. (The trifle added to the menu had no Welsh translation.):

brecwast = breakfast
Mac Mawr = Big Mac
byrger = burger
caws = cheese
sglodion = french fries


The Scots pronounce ‘English' words differently, and if the writing reflects the pronunciation, it is written differently. It is a blend of Gaelic, English and perhaps a few other Indo-European languages. It is fun to try to figure out what the meanings are. (We note that Burns' poems sometimes need translations!)

coo = cow (usually a "Heelund Coo" or "Highland Cow")
lang = long
loc = lake
ben = mountain
canna = cannot
neathing = nothing
afore = before
auld = old
gang = go
hae = have
nae = no
freen = friend
guid = good
bairn = child
nicht = night
lum = chimney
tar = sailor
brae = hillside
wee = little, big, great, small, fine, etc. etc. (Although this usually means small, we found that it is also used as almost any kind of descriptor.)

Scottish Sayings

Nicht thochts bring happiness run again. = Happiness can be re-lived through memories. (literally, Night thoughts bring happiness ‘round again.)

Oot on the branch, the fruit is gey ripe. = You have to take risks to reap rewards. (literally, Out on the branch, the fruit is very ripe.)

Lang may yer lum reek, an' may he huv the coal tae fill it. = Live long and well. (literally, Long may your chimney smoke and may you have the coal to fill it (the fireplace or stove).

You may have heard the word "Brigadoon" all your life, but did you know it's Scottish for the "Bridge over the River Doon?" And here is that very same Brigadoon.

Final Word Game

Find these words in the game below: croeso, la brea, bollux, botar, slante, sglodion, ben, yma, nae, auld, caws, Bealtaine, coo, verges, lorrie, aill, llath, lang. Remember that the words can be backward or forward and that letters are sometimes used in more than one word.

Have fun!

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