How To Say ‘Tweet’ and ‘Twitter’ in Irish

Posted on 30. Sep, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Remember when “tweets” and “twittering” mostly referred to birds, especially the “spideog” or the “smólach imirce“?  Or perhaps the sound of “caint eachtrannach” (the speech of aliens) as in H. G. Wells’ insect-like Selenites?  You might recall that they made “a slight elusive twittering” as observed by Messrs. Bedford and Cavor (The First Men in the Moon, 1901).

But today those usages are almost entirely superseded by “Tweet” and “Twitter” as aspects of social media, starting in 2006.  So what’s the Irish for them?

Well, if we jump back to éin, eachtrannaigh, and the like, the words for a “tweet” included “giolcadh” [GyUL-kuh] and the onomatopoeic “bíc” [beek] and “gíog” [gyeeg].  All of these could also mean a “chirp.”  There were (and still are) at least three choices for “to tweet”:

1) giolcadh (same as above but just a different part of speech)

2) bíc a ligean, lit. to let or release a tweet or chirp

3) gíog a ligean, lit. to let or release a tweet or chirp

The new word of choice, though, the one that specifically refers to social media, is “tvuít” (pl: tvuíteanna) for the noun and “tvuíteáil” for the verb, as in:

Tá mé ag tvuíteáil tvuíte anois (I am tweeting a tweet now, lit. “I am at the tweeting of a tweet,” since we need the “of a” form, “tvuíte” after “tvuíteáil

Tvuíteálaim gach lá, I tweet every day. 

Ní bhím ag tvuíteáil go minic, I don’t tweet often (lit. I don’t be tweeting often).

As for “my tweet,” “your tweet,” etc., there’s not much conclusive evidence on whatever the new usage will be.  Séimhiú nó gan séimhiú?  It would either be “mo thvuít” (do thvuít, a thvuít, etc.) or the séimhiú might be dropped, given that “tv” is already an unorthodox consonant cluster in Irish.

As for “twitterer,” in Irish that would traditionally have been “giolcaire,” not surprising given “giolcadh” and “giolcaireacht” above.   But today, the social media term is either “tvuíteálaí” [TVEETCH-awl-ee] or “tuíteálaí” [TWEETCH-awl-ee OR TEETCH-awl-ee] formed much like many other occupational terms, with the “-(e)álaí” suffix.

Oh dear, does that mean that tweeting has actually become an occupation?  Well, not really, I suppose.  The ending “-(e)álaí” shows up a lot in Irish, both for occupations and simply to specify types of people, machines, or devices (tógálaí, a builder; ardscórálaí, a top scorer; dornálaí, a boxer; suiteálaí, an installer; tatuálaí, a tattooist; útamálaí, a mullocker; comhphróiseálaí, a coprocessor).

T(v)uíteálaí” is also used for a “tweeter,” and here are its other forms, using the “tv-” consonant cluster, since that seems more consistent to me:

an tvuíteálaí, the twitterer, the tweeter; this also means “of the twitterer” and “of the tweeter”

tvuít an tvuíteálaí, the twitterer’s tweet, or the tweeter’s tweet

na tvuíteálaithe, the twitterers, the tweeters

na dtvuíteálaithe [nuh DVEETCH-awl-ih-huh], of the twitterers, of the tweeters (and yes, that’s a rare occurrence of the “dtv” cluster–mh’anam!–assuming urú still applies)

tvuíteanna na dtvuíteálaithe, the tweets of the twitterers, the tweets of the tweeters

Now all we need to do is figure out how to say that somebody was in a “twitter-beef” with someone else.   Hmm, “beef,” literally, is “mairteoil,” but, unlike the English word, “mairteoil” really does just refer to meat.  For the sense of “complaint” or “grumble,” we’d have to turn to words like “gearán,” “casaoid,” or “cnáimhseáil.”  I’ll go with “cnáimhseáil,” since it at least conjures up the image of a small “cnámh” (bone).   So, how about, “Tá sé i gcnáimhseáil tvuíteála leo” (lit. He is in a complaint of twittering with them)?   Or “Tá sé ag tvuít-chnáimhseáil leo” (lit. He is tweet-complaining to/with them)?

Hmm, does that mean we could have a “twitter-beef-bone” to pick with someone?  Bhur mbarúlacha?   Ná habair nach teanga bheo í an Ghaeilge! SGF, Róislín

Nótaí:  “Spideog” is the Old World robin while “smólach imirce” is the New World robin (lit. thrush of migration).  “Eachtrannach” can mean either “an alien” or “of aliens,” the extra-terrestrial type, that is.  “Seiléinít” is the Irish for “selenite,” the mineral, but so far I haven’t found any related Irish words for the inhabitants of the moon.  Perhaps, like Wells, one might use the same word for the moon creatures (seiléinít, pl: seiléinítí) or one might add an ending “seiléiníteach” (pl. seiléinítigh).  Either way, it’s named for “Selene,” the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.   Maybe I should just tweet her and find out her preferred usage.  After all, if she is the “Gealach” (“moon” in Irish), she should be adept at matters “Gaelach“!

An Dara Grúpa d’Fhocail: Curiosity, Passion, Interest, Heritage, Family (i nGaeilge)

Posted on 28. Sep, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In the previous blog we looked at the Irish for the five most prominent terms in this speech balloon.  Seo iad: Eolas, Grá, Cultúr, Spraoi, Cairde.   An cuimhin leat an Béarla atá orthu?  The translations back into English are below (má tá cuidiú de dhíth ort).

1187077_10151858903124295_540860600_n transparent language speech balloon

Anois, an chéad ghrúpa eile d’fhocail.  But wait, first let’s look at that phrase and its pronunciation.

anois [uh-NISH], now

an chéad (rud) eile [un hyayd (rud) ELL-yuh], the next thing, lit. the first (chéad) other (eile) thing (rud)

ghrúpa [γROOP-uh], lenited form of “grúpa” (group); for more on the pronunciation of the “gh,” see “Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives or type the term “voiced velar fricative” in the search box on any page of the Transparent Language Irish blog (

d’fhocail [DUK-il], of words, from “de + f(h)ocail,” with “de” (of) causing “focail” to change to “fhocail,” with a silent “fh-”.

That also explains teideal an bhlag seo, with the one difference being that the new title is the “dara grúpa” (second group), so the voiced velar fricative (the “gh-” sound, IPA /γ/) goes away, and we’re back to normal “g”.

And what of our “dara grúpa” (or, depending on your canúint, “darna grúpa” or “tarna grúpa“)?  Here are the ones I read as being the next five biggest reasons why people learn another language: Curiosity, Passion, Interest, Heritage, Family.

I may soon start wondering what I have undertaken here, since there are at least seven words for “family” in Irish, but I’ll take that “tarbh” by the “adharca,” (to half-translate, half-hybridize an English expression), and we’ll see what happens.  OK, “adharca,” you might be chuckling, well, no animal husbandry jokes here, please.*  Anyway …

1. CURIOSITY: In my experience, “fiosracht” is the most common word for this, though “caidéis” can also be used.

2. PASSION: This is another tricky one, with at least seven possibilities for different contexts, but here I’d say the closest equivalent to the English would work, “paisean.”  Other possibilities (for the curious) include “páis” (in the religious sense), ainmhian, dúil d’anama (lit. the desire of your soul), fearg (usually means “anger”), grá d’anama (the love of your soul), and “racht” as in “racht goil” (a passion of tears).

3. INTEREST: Almost a draw, but I’ll go with “suim” [sim, as in "simple"]since I use it more often than “spéis” [spaysh]; both mean “interest in a topic or subject.”  For “interest” as in “money earned,” we’d be looking at a completely different set of words, like “biseach,” “ús” [ooss, not like "us" or "ooze"], and even the harshly evocative word “gaimbín.”**

4. HERITAGE: Choosing between two possibilities, I’ll go with “dúchas” [DOO-khuss], which I’d say is more widely used than the next contender, “oidhreacht.”   Among other uses, “Dúchas” is the name of the e-newsletter of the Irish American Cultural Institute (; one can sign up for it “saor in aisce” (for free) at their website.   We do see a lot of “ionaid oidhreachta” throughout Ireland, though, so it’s a close call between “dúchas” and “oidhreacht.”

5. FAMILY:  This is the “ceist 64,000 dollar.”  I’m going with “muintir” for current purposes, since it means “extended family” or one’s “kin” (but not your “kith,” which might be ábhar blag eile).  The other possibilities include the following: teaghlach, clann, cúram, muirín, muirear, and líon tí.

Bhuel, sin cúig fhocal eile don bhalún cainte.  Níos mó le teacht. – Róislín

Aistriúchán (an chéad ghrúpa d’fhocail): Knowledge, Love, Culture, Fun, Friends

*After all, I did say “adharca,” which is plural, so common sense and logic tell us how to interpret that phrase, two horns per bull, presumably.

** Why “harshly”?  If you haven’t encountered this word before, I’d suggest checking out Bram Stoker’s “The Gombeen Man,” originally a chapter in his The Snake’s Pass, but often presented as a short story.  Is féidir leat éisteacht leis ag ($2.95 nó saor le ballráiocht

Na Fáthanna Is Mó: Knowledge, Love, Fun, Culture, Friends

Posted on 25. Sep, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

By now you’ve all probably noticed Transparent Language’s new “balún cainte,” which shows reasons why people choose to learn a new language.   This blog will translate the five most prominent fáthanna (reasons) that show up “sa bhalún cainte” (in the speech balloon).

1187077_10151858903124295_540860600_n transparent language speech balloon

But, bíodh cuimhne agat, there’s not always a one-to-one correspondence as we go from one language to another, so “knowledge” is going to get three entries (together with a recommendation for “knowledge” in the context shown by the balún cainte). And “love,” well, what can I say about “love”?  There are many translations, as shown in one of my previous blogs (

So, here we go, balúin chainte Gaeilge at the ready!

1. KNOWLEDGE (trí leagan)

a. eolas [OH-luss], knowledge, often specified as “knowledge of facts,” as in “tá sé ar eolas agam” (I know it, lit. “It is on knowledge at me,” referring to facts, concrete information, etc.

b. fios [FISS, rhyming with "hiss" or "miss" and NOT like the telecommunications  company, "FiOS"], knowledge, especially about what has happened/is happening/will happen or about someone’s business, case, or situation.  This word is often used in sentences that include indirect statement, such as:

Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil sé ag teacht ag a 7 a chlog.  (I know that he is coming at 7 o’clock, lit. Knowledge is at me that he is coming at 7 o’clock).

Note that we don’t simply use “fios” in these types of sentences but “a fhios” [uh ISS, with silent "fh"], meaning, very literally “its knowledge” or “the knowledge of it”

This word is often used in negative statements or questions:

A: “Cén Ghaeilge atá ar “antidisestablishmentarianism?”  B: (ag freagairt) “Níl a fhios agam ach tá sé sa bhlag seo (

A: “Gabh mo leithscéal, an bhfuil a fhios agat cén t-am é?”  B: “Tá sé a 10 a chlog.”

Fios” is probably used even more often than “eolas” in Irish, but it’s probably not the sort of abstract knowledge hinted at in the balún cainte, so I still recommend “eolas” for that purpose.

c. aithne [AH-nyuh, some might say with a very slight "uh" sound between the "h" and the "n"], knowledge, acquaintance, recognition, especially in talking about people, as in “An bhfuil aithne agat ar m’uncail?”  An identical-looking word, “aithne,” means “commandment,” as in “Na Deich nAithne.”

Eolas” is the word I would recommend for the current context.

2. LOVE (príomhleagan amháin, tagairtí do  choincheapa agus d’úsáidí eile).  The most basic word for the noun “love” in Irish is “grá.”  It can refer to the abstract concept, as in “grá tíre,” or to a person, as in “Mo ghrá thú.”  Other words for “love” as in a “beloved person” include “stór,” “cuisle,” “croí” and “taisce,” and for the concept, we also have “cion,” “gean,” “páirt,” “searc,” and “cumann.”  “Searc” and “cumann” can be the beloved person or the abstract concept.

3. FUN: This is usually an intriguing word to look at in any language.  In Irish, I’d say the most basic word is “spraoi” [pronounced "spree" but with a slightly trilled, i.e. flapped, "r"].  It’s related to the English word “spree” but not identical in that “sprees” in English often have a negative connotation (a killing spree), or at least a possible sense of regret (a shopping spree, with too many bills afterwards).  Other words for “fun” include “greann,” “spórt,” and “sult.”

4. CULTURE: This one’s a shoo-in, almost.  “Cultúr” would cover most purposes, but “oiliúint” and “saoithiúlacht” could also be used in some contexts.  For biology and bacteriology, we’d really be looking at some different choices (tógáil OR beathú), but I think we can safely say those don’t fit ár mbalún cainte.

5. FRIENDS: And finally, short, sweet, and perhaps familiar, “friends” is “cairde” [KARzh-djuh] (the plural of “cara,” friend).

So that’s a beginning of a translation for the balún cainte.  Several more blogs to go, I’d say, before we’re done!  SGF — Róislín