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Friday, April 28, 2017


Welsh, Scottish, Gaelic, Irish, and British sayings: A Crash Course In UK Languages



The national language of the UK is English, we all know that, right? Well actually, it isn’t ‘just’ English that’s spoken in the UK.

There are a few different languages, and quite a lot of dialects around the country. Some of them are harder to understand than others.

The main languages and language dialects in the UK are; British English (of course), Welsh, Gaelic, Scottish and Irish.

Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are all celtic languages. Celtic languages are a branch of the indo-European languages, and are mostly spoken in a few northern European countries these days. Even though English remains the national language, and the most spoken one, the dialects and accents can be like night and day.

To give you a feel for the nuances and language quirks - here are some UK proverbs, sayings, and day to day phrases - old and new.

Have a go at the sayings and dialects below, do you understand them?

Scottish sayings

      Dinnae teach yer Granny tae suck eggs! - Don’t try to teach someone something they already know.
      Yer bum’s oot the windae. - You’re talking nonsense.
      Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye! - What’s meant to happen will happen.
      Haud yer wheesht! - Be quiet.
      Do yer dinger. - Loudly express disapproval.

Welsh sayings

      Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon. - A nation without language is a nation without heart
      Benthyg dros amser byt yw popeth a geir yn y byd hwn. - Everything you have in this world is just borrowed for a short time
      Mar chwarae’n troi’n chwerw wrth chwarae hefo tan. - Things turn sour when you play with fire
      Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau. - Starting the work is two-thirds of it
      Cartref yw cartref er tloted y bo. - Hom is home, however poor it is 

Scottish Gaelic sayings

      Cha tèid nì sam bith san dòrn dùinte. - Nothing can get into a closed fist.
      Is fheàrr teine beag a gharas na teine mòr a loisgeas. - The little fire that warms is better than the big fire that burns.
      Am fear nach dèan cur sa Mhàrt, cha bhuain e san Fhoghar. - He who will not sow in March will not harvest in autumn.
      Is fheàrr teicheadh math na droch fhuireach. - Better a good retreat than a bad stand.

British sayings

      I’m knackered! - I’m exhausted
      He’s such a plonker. - He’s not very nice.
      Having a good old chinwag. -  Having a chat/ gossip
      I’m chuffed to bits. - I’m really happy
      Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. - Don’t question good luck

Irish sayings

      You could skin a cat out there. - It’s frightfully cold
      As happy as Larry - The happiest guy in all of Ireland is. No one knows the reasoning behind his permanent state of happiness, or who Larry is>?
      Away with the fairies. - An Irish person’s way of saying that another one is a bit mad.
      You’re taking the piss. - You are kidding, right?
      Do a legger. - Flee from the scene

About Global Language Services Ltd

Global Language Service Ltd is a translation and interpretation agency. Though based in Scotland, our reach goes way beyond the northern UK. We are passionate about languages, and learning about new cultures, and we love to blog about whatever is on our mind.


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