This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Spot the Frippet: qualtagh.

In a spirit of starting the New Year with hope, good luck, and a word no one's heard of (and one in, quite possibly, a language no one's heard of) then I present to you the Manx Gaelic word qualtagh.

(You say it KWARL-tk.)

Manx Gaelic is a sister language to Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and it's spoken on the Isle of Man:

File:Uk map isle of man.png
map of bits of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales by UKPhoenix79

(And Manx Gaelic, wonderfully, really is spoken: there's even a bilingual Primary School.)

But what's a qualtagh?

A qualtagh is the first person to enter a house in the New Year (there are similar traditions in England, Scotland, Greece, Georgia and Serbia).

The qualtagh, depending upon where he is in the world, may bring gifts (a lump of coal in some places, or a piece of greenery, or a silver coin, or a drink) or in Greece he may receive them - probably something delicious to eat, or some money.

What's the point of all this? 

A celebration, often, and good luck, always.

So who's going to be the qualtagh for your house? It can be someone who lives in the house, though not if they're in it when the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve. Sometimes a qualtagh is luckier if they are tall and dark.

All nonsense, you say? Are you sure?

Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?

Happy New Year!

Spot the Frippet: qualtagh. This word can also mean the first person one meets upon leaving the house on a special occasion. It comes from quaail, meeting, plus -agh, which is to do with belonging.

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