MFL Society Speaker, Mr Tim Cole- Nikita Federov XX

On Tuesday 10thMarch, the MFL society hosted Mr. Tim Cole to give a talk to Upper School Linguists about his life and how languages have been a part of his career. Mr. Cole engaged the listeners by introducing his knowledge of greetings in various languages, ranging from Italian to Mongolian. Mr. Cole began by engaging our minds to try to make us memorise the greetings in Zulu, a language spoken primarily in South Africa. “Sanibonani”, Mr. Cole said, to which we replied “Yebo”. “Ninjani?”, he then asked. “Sikhona” we replied. I did not think that this activity had any other purpose than to ‘add some spice’ to the talk, but as it turned out, the activity played a perfect role in helping the listeners fully understand and adopt the idea that knowledge of a language is key to a native person’s heart; and how else can you start than to greet a native in their own language!

Mr. Cole’s career changed multiple times, switching locations from place to place, from working as an English teacher in Zimbabwe, to be a British Ambassador in Cuba, to finally work with the non-profit organization ONE. Languages have been indispensable for Mr. Cole. My personal favourite episode of his life which he shared with us was his time in Portugal during his gap year. His initiative to start a charity movement by himself, trying to walk from Portugal back to England, caught attention from the local media, as no comparable feats have been attempted before. He was invited to be a guest in a live-broadcasted interview, in a radio equivalent to BBC Radio 1. As he recollects, he was petrified, mortified and nervous before his interview because he did not think that his Portuguese was of an adequate level. However, much to his relief, his doubts in himself were soon to be converted to confidence as he spoke beautifully during the interview, explaining the whole purpose of his initiative. This particular anecdote, if it may be so called, connected with me due to the similarities with myself: a young person planning his gap year, his time at university and with a knowledge in a foreign language.

Mr. Cole’s talk on how he used languages throughout his career has inspired me to devote my time in the future to learn various languages, to delve in and commit myself to learn more about the great variety of cultures which the world holds, to cherish and appreciate the historical struggles which countries and whole continents have faced. Through Mr. Cole’s very personal story, I was able to develop a new perception on the usefulness of languages, which I hope prompts me to a more diverse, thus interesting, life and career. I want to thank Mr. Cole for giving up his time to present a truly engaging talk.

L’influence du gaulois dans la langue française et anglaise – Gaulish influence in the French language: Annabel Barlow (XX)

Le gaulois est une ancienne langue celtique qu’on parlait pendant les siècles avant et pendant le règne de l’empire romain dans divers pays européens. 

Gaulish is an ancient Celtic language which was spoken in the centuries before and after the reign of the roman empire. 

Le pays du ‘Gaule’ était une région de l’ouest d’Europe qui contenait la France, le Luxembourg, La Belgique et une grande partie de la Suisse. 

The country of Gaul was a region of western Europe which included France, Luxemburg, Belgium and a large part of Switzerland. 

Bien que la langue soit éteinte depuis le Vᵉsiècle, elle survit toujours dans d’autres langues celtiques comme le breton et même le gaélique écossais : le mot gaulois pour une vache, par exemple, est ‘bo’, en breton c’est ‘bu’och’ (bu-orr) et en gaélique écossais c’est ‘bò’. 

Even though the language has been extinct since the 5thcentury, it still survives in other Celtic languages like Breton and even Scottish Gaelic: the Gallic work for a cow for example is ‘bo’, in Breton its ‘bu’och’ and in Scottish Gaelic it’s ‘bò’. 

Les langues celtiques survivantes sont divisées en deux groupes : celtique-P et celtique-Q

  • Le gallois, le breton et le cornouaillais (cornique) appartiennent au groupe celtique-P
  • Le gaélique écossais, le gaélique irlandais et le mannois (la langue celtique de l’ile de Man) appartiennent au groupe celtique-Q. 
  • Le gaulois appartenait au premier groupe, le même groupe que le breton, la dernière langue celtique qui survit en France.

La différence principale et celle qui détermine cette mode de classification réside dans le traitement du *kwhérité de l’indo-européen (la langue originale de laquelle font dériver les langues celtiques).  

On peut illustrer cette différence par les mots pour ‘tête’ : 

  • pennen breton, pen en gallois, pen / penn en cornique 
  • ceannen irlandais, ceann en gaélique écossais, kione en mannois. (Ainsi, ici, on constate que le ‘Q’ est plutôt un ‘C’)

The surviving Celtic languages are divided into two groups: P-Celtic and Q-Celtic. 

  • Welsh, Breton, Cornish belong to the P-Celtic Group. 
  • Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and Manx (the Celtic language spoken on the Isle of Man) belong to the Q-Celtic group. 
  • Gaulish belonged to the first group, the same group as Breton, the last surviving Celtic language in France. 

The main difference and that which determines this form of classification is found in the treatment of the kwinherited from Indo-European (the original language from which all the Celtic languages are derived)

You can see this difference inthe words for ‘head’:

  • Penn in Breton, Pen in Welsh and Penn/ Pen in Cornish.
  • Ceann in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and Kione in Manx.  (thus the ‘Q’ should really be a C in this context)

Le français moderne vient d’un autre groupe linguistique : les langues romanes. Elles ont aussi descendu de la famille des langues indo-européennes mais contrairement aux langues celtiques qui descendent du protoceltique, les langues romanes descendent du latin-vulgaire (le latin vernaculaire utilisé dans la communication quotidienne). 

Néanmoins cela ne veut pas dire que le gaulois n’a pas influencé le français moderne. 

En fait, on peut voir l’influence de cette langue ancienne dans les mots qu’on utilise tous les jours :

Cette liste montre quelques mots communs qui dérivent du gaulois :

  • Ambassade : du celtique du celtique ambactos. Les “ambactes” celtiques étaient de courtisans ou des clients. 
  • Boue : du gaulois baw qui designent les excréments, la saleté.
  • Caillou :du gaulois cala, ‘pierre, pierraille’. (breton : kailhenn,Gaélique écossais : clachan)
  • Chemin : du gaulois cammano-  (
  • Chêne : du gaulois ‘cassanos’un arbre qui avait un caractère sacré chez les Gaulois (et plusieurs peuples celtiques). 
  • Cheval : du gaulois caballos
  • Lande : du gaulois landa(en Français ce mot signifie une terre découverte mais inhabitée mais dans les langues germaniques, comme l’anglais, cela a pris un sens plus large : ‘pays/territoire’
  • Mouton :du gaulois multon (breton : maout, gallois : mollt, viel irlandais : molt)