Ag Cur Cat ar Fhuinneoga (or at least ‘á n-oscailt,’ the windows, that is)

Posted on 04. Mar, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Cé a chuir an cat anseo?  An cat é féin, ag dreapadóireacht!

Cé a chuir an cat anseo? An cat é féin, ag dreapadóireacht!

Recently we’ve gone from discussing bridges, like Droichead na Leathphingine (Baile Átha Cliath) and Droichead na Cónaidhme (Ceanada) to discussing windows (fuinneoga).  Well, one window (fuinneog amháin) anyway, the well-known “Carpenter Gothic” one in Grant Wood’s American Gothic.  So let’s look a little closer at the word “window” itself in its various forms in Irish.

First, we’ll look at the basics of the word, then a few types of windows, and then a couple of phrases about windows, including the somewhat cryptic one in the title of this blog.

Here are the basics.  Since “fuinneog” is a feminine noun, there is lenition (séimhiú) when we say “the window.”

fuinneog [FWIN-yohg], a window

an fhuinneog [un IN-yohg], the window

fuinneoige, of a window

na fuinneoige, of the window

fuinneoga, windows

na fuinneoga, the windows

fuinneog, of windows

na bhfuinneog, of the windows

And a few sample sentences.  Many sample sentences about windows in textbooks seem to be about broken windows so I’ll not break from tradition here:

Tá an fhuinneog briste.  The window is broken.

Tá an fhuinneog bhriste daor.  The broken window is expensive.

Bhris an fear an fhuinneog.  The man broke the window.

Bristear fuinneoga amanna má bhíonn páistí ag imirt stickball sa tsráid.

Briseadh an fhuinneog.  The window was broken.  (that is, an unnamed or unknown person broke the window)

And a few types of windows:

boghfhuinneog [BOH-IN-yohg] or cuasfhuinneog [KOO-uss-IN-yohg], bow-window

fuinneog comhla [... KOH-luh] or cáisimint, casement-window

fuinneog fhrancach [... RAHN-kukh], french-window

And parts of windows:

sais fuinneoige, window-sash

pána fuinneoige, window-pane

leac fuinneoige, window-sill

A couple of occupational terms:

niteoir fuinneog,  window-washer

feistitheoir fuinneog or cóiritheoir fuinneog or maisitheoir fuinneog: window-dresser (lit. dresser of windows, note the genitive plural form, “fuinneog,” same as the basic form).  I’ve found four phrases for the activity itself:  feistiú fuinneog, gléasadh fuinneog, maisiú fuinneog, and cóiriú fuinneog.  For some reason, “gléastóir fuinneog” (based on “gléasadh”) doesn’t seem to show up online or in my dictionaries as the occupation itself, perhaps because it would mean more like a “window-fitter” or a “window-mounter.”     

And interestingly, in Irish, neither of the two main terms for “window-dressing” as a disparaging term has the word “window” in it:

Ní ach cur i gcéill a bhí ann.  It wasn’t but make-believe (lit. It isn’t but make-believe that was in it)

A little less severe, but still in the abstract, is “dea-chosúlacht” (lit. “good appearance” for “window-dressing” as a cover-up) as in “oibríochtaí dea-chosúlachta” (window-dressing operations).

So what about the phrase “putting cats on windows” (ag cur cat ar fhuinneoga) as in the title of this blog?  Well, it strikes me as an unusual phrase and I actually find no cybertrail for it, even having tried the infinitive form, past tense, etc.  But it is a traditional expression and probably shows up more in some print resources that haven’t been searchably digitized yet.

There are actually two versions of the phrase:

ag cur cat ar fhuinneoga

ag cur madraí ar fhuinneoga

They both mean “bluffing.”

Now there are some other ways to say “to bluff,” like “(a bheith) ag cluanaíocht” or “dallach dubh a chur air/uirthi, srl.” (to bluff him, her, etc.).  But the “cat” and “dog” phrases are certainly catchy and also intriguing.   Let’s look at them a little more literally:

ag cur [putting] cats [cats, literally "of cats" but we don't need the "of" in English] ar fhuinneoga [on/at windows].  Note that while “cat” looks like it might be singular (“cat,” a cat), it also means “of cats”.  To say “putting a cat on windows” would be:

ag cur cait ar fhuinneoga, which would probably also mean we were stretching that one cat mightily

So presumably we could just say “ag cur cait ar fhuinneog,” but I can’t say I’ve found any useful examples of that, either.  As far as I can tell, the phrase doesn’t exist with just one cat!  Maybe I should ask the legendary “cat ar an díon stáin te,” probably the closest neighbor to the cat on/at the window(s)!

The phrase becomes all the more interesting when we note that dogs can be used instead of cats:

ag cur madraí ar fhuinneoga, putting dogs on windows

Here it’s clearer that there’s more than one dog, since “madraí” has an obvious plural ending (the “-í“), unlike “cat,” which can be translated as either “a cat” or “of cats.”

Does it matter if the phrase refers to a dog or a cat?  Apparently not!

As for why the phrase says “ar fhuinneoga” (literally “on” windows, could be translated as “at” windows), that remains a bit curious to me.  Are we holding dogs or cats up to windows, like mirrors, so they see their reflection and get confused?  Or do they see the room beyond and get confused because they can’t get behind the glass?  Those seem like reasonable interpretations.   Barúil ar bith eile ag duine ar bith eile?

One final point about windows is that we don’t usually focus on our feline and canine pets’ reactions to them.  Mostly, especially in elementary lessons for any language, we talk about opening and closing them, as was alluded to in this blog’s title.  Here are some examples:

ag oscailt na fuinneoige, opening the window

ag oscailt na bhfuinneog, opening the windows

á hoscailt, opening it (referring to a feminine noun, like “window”)

á n-oscailt, opening them

ag dúnadh na fuinneoige, closing the window

ag dúnadh na bhfuinneog, closing the windows

á dúnadh, closing it (referring to a feminine noun, like “window”)

á ndúnadh, closing them

Well, kits, cats, dogs, windows.   Plenty of food for thought, with both grammar basics and fun, if off-beat, phrases.

Maybe the next Irish text I read will include these cat and dog phrases for “bluffing” and give them more of a context.  Meanwhile, while we’re still on this architecture/engineering kick (droichid agus fuinneoga), what’s up next?  “Tacaí crochta” do dhuine ar bith?  Nó “há-hánna”?

Maybe, or maybe not, since I’ve been hankering to get started on “Naomh Pádraig” (aka “Pádraig Naofa” or “St. Patrick”).  By the way, I see that a flurry of recent articles and comments have finally gotten around to emphasizing that the saint’s nickname isn’t “Patty” though that version is often seen in America, especially at this time of year.  Even “Paddy” is a bit casual for the saint, but “Patty” is beyond beyond.  A “patty,” in Irish, is a “pióigín bheag” (a little pie), a cooking term (as it is in English).  So next up, shamrocks or soffits?  We’ll see.  SGF — Róislín   

nasc don phictiúr:


Cén stíl agus cén chuma? (What style and what appearance?)

Posted on 28. Feb, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

B’fhéidir gurb í seo ceann de na fuinneoga is clúití i stair ealaíne.  An aithníonn tú í?  Bhí sí sa phictiúr a bhí sa bhlag is déanaí (  Cén stíl í?

Cén stíl í an fhuinneog seo?

Cén stíl í an fhuinneog seo?

Perhaps this is one of the most famous windows in the history of art.  Do you recognize it?  It was in the picture that was in the most recent blog (link above).  What style is it?

Is é “Carpenter Gothic” an t-ainm atá ar an stíl seo d’ailtireacht.  Ní bhfuair mé frása beacht Gaeilge air sin in áit ar bith ach “Gotach” atá ar “Gothic” agus tá trí fhocal, ar a laghad, ar “carpenter.”  “Saor adhmaid” is coitianta i mo thaithí féin, ach tá “siúinéir” (joiner) agus “cearpantóir” ann freisin.

Tá nasc don phictiúr thíos / There’s a link to the picture below.   

This style of architecture is called “Carpenter Gothic.”  I haven’t found an exact Irish phrase for it but “Gotach” is “Gothic” and there are at least three words for “carpenter.”  “Saor adhmaid” is the most widely used in my experience but there are also the terms “siúinéir” (joiner) and “cearpantóir.”

Tá tionchar an Ghotachais agus tionchar na hAthbheochana Gotaí ar an stíl seo.  Féach cé chomh rinneach is atá áirse na fuinneoige!   Ach tá sé i bhfad níos simplí ná samplaí clasaiceacha de stíl Ghotach agus den Athbheochan Ghotach, Ardeaglais Reims (1211-1275) agus Halla Baile Mhanchain (1877), mar shamplaí (ní gá a rá).  Agus mar is soiléir ó ainm na stíle bíonn foirgnimh “Carpenter Gothic” déanta as adhmad, ní as clocha mar atá na hardeaglaisí Gotacha agus na foirgnimh Ghotacha. 

The Gothic and Gothic Revival styles have influenced this style.  See how pointed the window arch is!  But, needless to say, it is much simpler than the classic examples of Gothic and Gothic Revival styles, such as Reims Cathedral (1211-1275) and Manchester Town Hall (1877).  And as is clear from the name of the style, “Carpenter Gothic” is made of wood, not from stone like the Gothic cathedrals and buildings.

bean stóch scrogallach ... agus cad é eile?

bean stóch scrogallach … agus cad é eile?

Maidir leis na daoine, cén chuma atá orthu?  Seo cuid de na haidiachtaí a dhéanann cur síos orthu, déarfainn.  An féidir leat cur leis an liosta? Agus an féidir leat iad a mheaitseáil leis an mBéarla atá sa bhanc focal?  Tá an banc focal faoin liosta.

As for the people, what is their appearance? (lit. what appearance is on them?).  Here are some of the adjectives that describe them.  Can you add to the list?  And can you match them with the English that’s in the word bank?  The word bank is below the list.

Just to add to the “dúshlán” [doo-hlawn], the word bank has 11 English words for the 10 in Irish.  Two of the English words can apply to one of the Irish words.

1. dúr

2. fulangach

3. cinniúnaíoch

4. síonbhuailte

5. stóch

6. tostach

agus go fisiciúil

fear scailleagánta síonbhuailte ... agus cad é eile?

fear scailleagánta síonbhuailte … agus cad é eile?

7. an-tanaí

8. fadaithe

9. scrogallach

10. scailleagánta

BANC FOCAL (aon fhocal déag anseo): dour, elongated, fatalistic, grim, lanky, long-necked, resigned, stoic, taciturn, very thin, weather-beaten

Tá an bheirt beagnach mar dhá phríomhphainéal na fuinneoige (ard, tanaí, rinneach) agus an píce eatarthu mar rannadóir phánaí na fuinneoige.   Beirt atá ceaptha i bhfrithchaitheamh a n-eisidh mar a bheadh gaiste ann, an ea?  Bhuel, sin nóisean teibí na seachtaine, is dócha!  An méid a bhí i gceist ag an ealaíontóir Grant Wood?  Nó an róanailís atá ann? Do bharúil?

'Gotach Meiriceánach' B'fhéidir gur macalla den phíce é an rannadóir pána san fhuinneog  Agus tá na haghaidheanna beagnach chomh rinneach le háirse na fuinneoige.  Do bharúil?

‘Gotach Meiriceánach’ B’fhéidir gur macalla den phíce é an rannadóir pána san fhuinneog.  Agus tá na haghaidheanna beagnach chomh rinneach le háirse na fuinneoige. Do bharúil?

The two people are almost like the two main  panels in the window (tall, thin, pointed) with the pitchfork between them like the windowpane divider (aka the “muntin,” but I can’t find a more specific Irish equivalent for that!).  Two people who are caught in the reflection of their existence as if it were a trap?  Well, that’s the abstract notion of the week, I guess!  Was that much on the mind of the artist, Grant Wood?  Or is that an over-analysis?  Your thoughts?

Hmm, tá ábhar machnaimh eile ann.  Fuinneoga clúiteacha nó radhairc i scannáin, mar shampla, ina bhfuil fuinneog feiceálach?  Fuinneoga Chartres nó a mhalairt d’fhuinneoga .i. na fuinneoga beaga cruinne atá ar thithe na hobad sa “tSír” sa scannán The HobbitAgus sibhse, cad a shíleann sibhse?  An bhfuil aon fhuinneog i scannán nó i litríocht a ritheann leat mar shiombail nó mar gheall ar áille na fuinneoige féin (an gréas, an gloine, srl.)?

Hmm, it’s food for more thought.  Famous windows or movie scenes, for example, in which a window is prominent?  The windows of Chartres or the opposite type of window, that is, the small round windows on the hobbit houses in the Shire in the movie The Hobbit?  And you, what do you think?  Is there a window in a movie or in literature that comes to mind as a symbol or because of the beauty of the window itself (the design, the glass, etc.)?

Bhuel, pé scéal é, sin beagán cúlra den phictiúr “American Gothic” agus cur síos beag air.  Meas tú gur bhog an bheirt ó thosaigh muid a bheith ag caint fúthu?  Foluainín fabhra, b’fhéidir?  Nó casadh beag na n-ordóg nach bhfuil sa phictiúr?  Ní dóigh liom é.  Iad sin a chuir an focal “stóchas” san fhoclóir, sílim!  SGF — Róislín

Freagraí:  1. dúr, dour, grim; 2. fulangach, resolute; 3. cinniúnaíoch, fatalistic; 4. síonbhuailte, weather-beaten; 5. stóch, stoic; 6. tostach, taciturn; 7. an-tanaí, very thin; 8. fadaithe, elongated; 9. scrogallach, long-necked; 10. scailleagánta, lanky.  Nóta faoi na focail seo:  As an ngrúpa focal seo, ní déarfainn go n-úsáidtear go coitianta an-mhórchuid acu, go mór mór i mbuntéacsanna.  Chloisfí “an-tanaí” go minic go leor, cinnte, agus b’fhéidir “tostach” agus “dúr.”  Maidir leis na cinn eile, déarfainn gur focail cineál liteartha nó an-tuairisciúil iad, an-mhaith do chásanna áirithe ach gan a bheith i mórán gnáthchomhráite laethúla.  Note about these words: Out of this group of words I wouldn’t say that most of them are used all that commonly, especially in basic texts.  “An-tanaí” would be heard often enough, certainly, and perhaps “tostach” and “dúr.”  Regarding the others, I’d say they are kind of literary or very descriptive, very good for certain purposes but not in many ordinary daily conversations. 

So to wrap that up, some of the 10 vocabulary words are fairly ordinary, but others I probably wouldn’t use in Irish any more often than I’d probably use their English counterparts.  But when they fit the figurative bill, they hit the figurative nail right on the head.   Isn’t “scrogallach” a nice pithy and concise way to describe “duine a bhfuil muineál tanaí scáinte aige/aici.

Nasc don phictiúr:

Cad a dhéanfaidh tú ar an deireadh seachtaine seo? (What are you doing this weekend?)

Posted on 25. Feb, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Bean: 'Cad a dhéanfaidh tú ar an deireadh seachtaine?' Fear: 'Fanfaidh mé anseo i mo sheasamh agus cuma Ghotach orm.' Bean: 'Mise freisin.' (fortheideal le Róislín; pictiúr: Gotach Meiriceánach, nmifa American Gothic, le Grant Wood, nasc thíos)

Bean: ‘Cad a dhéanfaidh tú ar an deireadh seachtaine seo?’ Fear: ‘Fanfaidh mé anseo i mo sheasamh agus cuma Ghotach orm.’ Bean: ‘Mise freisin.’ (fortheideal le Róislín; pictiúr: Gotach Meiriceánach, nmifa American Gothic, le Grant Wood, nasc thíos)

A couple of months ago we posed this question on the Transparent Language Irish Blog:

Cad a dhéanfaidh tú ar an deireadh seachtaine seo? (What are you doing this weekend?)

Let’s look at some possible answers.  How many can you translate?

1. Rachaidh mé ag siopadóireacht. [... egg SHOP-uh-dohrzh-ukht]

2. Rachaidh mé ag iascaireacht.  [egg EE-usk-irzh-ukht]

3. Rachaidh mé ag snámh.  [egg snawv]

4. Beidh mé ag garraíodóireacht.  [egg GAH-ree-uh-dohrzh-ukht]

5. Beidh mé ag péinteáil an tí. [egg PAY-tchaw-il un tchee]

6. Seinnfidh mé ceol ag seisiún ceoil. [SHEN-hee may kyohl ag SHESH-oon kyoh-il]

7. Seinnfidh mé an dordghiotár ag tobsheisiún.  [SHEN-hee may un DORD-YIT-awr egg TOB-HESH-oon]

8. Beidh mé ag imirt cluichí ríomhaire. [egg IM-irtch KLIH-hee REE-virzh-uh]

9. Beidh mé ag imirt fichille i Holland Park, Londain.  [... egg IM-irtch FIH-hyil-uh ...]

10. Déanfaidh mé obair bhaile do mo rang Gaeilge.  [DJAYN-hee may OB-irzh WAHL-yuh duh muh rahng GAYL-ig-yuh]

11. Léifidh mé Blag Gaeilge de chuid Transparent Language.  [LAY-hee may blahg GAYL-ig-yuh deh khwidj Transparent Language]

All of these answers have an ending for the verb that shows that it is in the future tense:

rachaidh [RAH-khee], will go.  This is the irregular future form of the verb “téigh.”  You can see why it’s  considered irregular, since no part of “téigh” is repeated in the future.  With regular verbs, in contrast, you can always see something of the core, even as the time frame changes, as in “dún / dúnfaidh“.

beidh [bay, almost "bay-ee"], will be

seinnfidh [ SHEN-hee], will play (specifically for music, not games)

déanfaidh [DJAYN-hee], will do

léifidh [LAY-hee], will read

And how about the answers several readers posted (a, b, and d translated here into Irish; c was already in Irish)?  Seo iad:

a. Beidh mé ag ól, tada seachas a bheith ag ól.

b. Beidh mé ag obair sa mhaidin agus ag ól agus ag damhsa san oíche.

c. Seinnfidh mé ceolchoirm, I will play a concert.  (Note the difference between this and “seinnfidh mé ceol,” which is “I will play music.”)

d. Beidh mé ag obair Dé Sathairn; rachaidh mé go teach an phobail; beidh mé ag cuidiú le cara liom.

Go raibh maith agaibh, a Jack, a Ahmad, a Toby, agus a Jared as scríobh isteach.

Céard fúibhse [FOO-iv-shuh]?  What about youCad a dhéanfaidh sibhse ar an deireadh seachtaine seo chugainn? — SGF, Róislín

Gluais: a bheith, to be; ag imirt, playing (for “games,” not “music”); ag ól, drinking; cara liom, a friend of mine, lit. a friend with me; chugainn, toward us, to us, as in “an deireadh seachtaine seo chugainn,” lit. the end of week toward us; cluiche, game; cuidiú, helping, to help, followed by “le” (with) or other forms of “le” (liom, leat, leis, léi, srl.); dordghiotár, bass guitar; ficheall, chess, fichille, of chess; fúibh, about you (plural), from the preposition “faoi;” nmifa (nó mar is fearr aithe), aka (implying the “better-known” name or title); pobal, people (in the sense of “congregation); ríomhaire, computer; seachas, except, besides; tada, nothing; seo, this; teach [tchakh], house, , of (a) house, an tí, of the house; teach an phobail, church; tobsheisiún, jam session

Fortheideal don bpictiúr: 

Bean: ‘Cad a dhéanfaidh tú ar an deireadh seachtaine seo?’ (What are you doing this weekend?)

Fear: ‘Fanfaidh mé anseo i mo sheasamh agus cuma Ghotach orm.’ (I’ll stay here standing looking Gothic, lit. with a Gothic appearance on me.)

Bean: ‘Mise freisin.’ (Me too.)

Nasc don bpictiúr: