Cats Galore in Irish (Cait, Caitíní, Piscíní, Pisíní, srl.)

Posted on 04. Dec, 2013 by in Irish Language

Art-Drawing-Animal-Cat-Cat-and-Kittens-American - believed copyright free(le Róislín)

I suppose I should have saved this blog for National Cat Day (29 Deireadh Fómhair 2014; naisc thíos) but coming swift on the heels of the recent “caitín gleoite caillte sa spás amuigh” blog (thanks to Miley Cyrus’s recent CGI imagery), I couldn’t resist taking the plunge.

So how many different ways are there in Irish to say “cat” or to indicate different types of cats?

Let’s start with the basics.  The singular form, “cat,” looks the same in Irish, but is pronounced more like “kaht.”  In other words, it doesn’t rhyme with “bat” or “mat” (at least not the usual US pronunciations of them) but it’s more like “yacht,” with a shortish “ah” sound.

cat, a cat

an cat, the cat

cait [kwitch, the "w" is very slight], of a cat; miontas cait, catmint

an chait [un khitch], of the cat; ruball an chait, the tail of the cat

na cait [nuh kwitch; remember, the "w" is very slight], the cats

cat [same spelling, etc., as the basic form of the word], of cats; allmhairiú cat, the importation of cats

na gcat [nuh gaht], of the cats; bia na gcat, the food of the cats

And then we get into different types or “categories” (couldn’t resist) of cats:

piscín [PISH-keen], kitten, also “pisín” (PISH-een)

caitín [KATCH-een], little cat, also “catkin”

fearchat [syllable by syllable: 1) the "-ea-" of "fear," the Irish for "man," is the /æ/ sound of "bat" and "rat;" 2) in the second syllable, "~chat," the "a" is more like the "a" of "yacht"], tom cat, lit. “man-cat.”  An alternative is “cat fireann,” lit. “male cat.”  Certainly both terms serve their purpose but neither strikes me as quite so intriguingly anthropomorphic as “tom cat.”  Why “tom” anyway (i mBéarla)?  Ábhar blag eile, b’fhéidir?

cat riabhach [REE-uh-vukh] or cat breac, tabby cat.  If the “tabby cat” is simply meant to be a female cat, not a description of its fur, it would be “cat baineann” (lit. female cat).

seanchat [shan-khaht], grimalkin, lit. an old cat

Now as for a “kindle” of kittens, I’ve never seen an Irish word that is that specific.  A “litter” in general would be “ál” [awl], but that can be used for many animals (ál banbh, a litter of pigs; ál sicíní, a clutch of chickens; and even children, “ál páistí,” a swarm of children, used mostly for bit of dramatic effect, I’d say, not for “gnáthghrúpaí).  Other possible collective terms for animals include “conairt” for wolves, “cuain” for puppies and “éillín” for ducklings.

And now, getting back to “cats in space,” as inspired by an caitín gleoite caillte i seó Miley, If you haven’t yet watched the Dastoli Digital “Cats in Space” video (nasc thíos), I highly recommend it.  Of course, that video is a “scigaithris” ([SHKIG-AH-hrish] parody), but I can think of at least a couple of relatively famous non-parody cats in space, ironically also part of the same series which Dastoli Digital parodied.  An aithníonn tú iad?  Can you fill in the cats’ names in the chart below?  Agus an bhfuil a fhios agat cén clár teilifíse atá i gceist?  Freagraí thíos.

Ainm an Chait Úinéir / Comhghleacaí Sraith Séasúr / Eipeasóid
1. Korob An tSraith Bhunaidh S2E7 “Cúl Dín,” 1967
2. Data An Chéad Ghlúin Eile S4E11 “Lá Data,” 1991

And then there was Lloyd Alexander’s Time Cat (1963) which as the title suggests, involved a taistealaí ama , or I suppose we could say “amtaistealaí.”  This doesn’t really involve “cait sa spás amuigh,” but the móilíní might be temporarily rearranged as the cat travels through time, so it does sort of qualify as “ficsean eolaíochta.”  Stop-off points for Time Cat include Iron Age Britain and Ireland.  Bhuel, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, or should I say “runga uachtair an chatdréimire.”  Breeds and other features will have to wait for blag éigin eile.  Mí-eadha! – Róislín

Freagraí: 1) Sylvia, comhghleacaí Korob sa tSraith Bhunaidh

2) Spot, úinéir (más féidir ”úinéir” a thabhairt ar dhaonnaí cait!  Aon Ghaeilge ar “ownee”?)

3) an clár teilifíse: RéaltAistear (Star Trek)


1) Lá Náisiúnta na gCat (“náisiúnta” = “Meiriceánach” sa chomhthéacs seo.  Níl a fhios agam an gceiliúrtar an Lá i dtíortha eile seachas S.A.M; alt in The Huffington Post: (sa suíomh seo, tá 536 pictiúr de chait léitheoirí le feiceáil.  Cúig chéad tríocha a sé!  536!  Mh’anam!  Tá “taiscthí” dúnta anois–murach sin, is dócha go mbeadh níos mó ná 536 ann!

2) Agus píosa beag eile faoi Lá Náisiúnta na gCat óThe Fluffington Post,”

3) And straight ”ó bhéal an chapaill,”

4) Cait sa Spás Amuigh [of course, the actual title is in English, "Cats in Space"]

5) an pictiúr thuas

‘Caitín’ + ‘Caillte’ + ‘Caoineadh’ = Cén Rud?

Posted on 27. Nov, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

De ghnáth éistim le ceol traidisiúnta níos minice ná popcheol ach bhí an scéal seo rótharraingteach le bheith “ag imeacht uaidh.”  Right, well, that’s not exactly the phrase, “to walk away,” but it’s a close Irish equivalent.  For all the possible words in Irish to say “away” (ábhar blag eile?), none of them is an exact match for “I just walked away” as in, ‘sea, amhrán nua Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball.”

But what really caught my eye was this article, which explains the technology behind the imagery used in Miley’s November 25th American Music Awards performance.  An bhfaca tú é?  The article includes an image of the original cat graphic, with a mundane background and “cuteness” factor quotation.  An bhfaca tú an cat gleoite sula bhfaca tú mar chúlra do amhrán Miley é?  And then a discussion of cuteness vs. creepiness.  Can “creepy” also be “cute”?  Can’t say I ever pondered that exact issue before.

The performance was noteworthy in its own right, but the alliterative possibilities connected to it were, for me,  “reoán ar an gcíste.”  Enough to warm “caisíní mo chroí” as a language blogger.  Seo na focail ó theideal an bhlag seo:

caitín [KAHTCH-een], little cat; the usual word for “kitten” is “piscín” [PISH-keen], with “pisín” [PISH-een] as a variation.  But as you might have guessed, I chose “caitín” because it gives us the possibilities for “beagán uama” (a little alliteration)

caillte [KYLE-tchuh], lost, from the verb “caill” (lose).   The back-story as to how an caitín ended up sa spás amuigh is left up to the viewer’s imagination.  Maybe an exile from “Cats in Space” (, in which “… A feline starship embarks on a mission to boldly go where no cat has gone before …”.

caoineadh [KEEN-yuh OR KEEN-uh], crying, weeping, lamenting, keening (an English word which comes from this Irish word)

So we could put these together in a sentence along the lines of

Tá an caitín caillte ag caoineadh.  The little cat is crying.

Any ideas on why?  If so, please send them in.  You could start out a sentence with, “Tá an caitín caillte ag caoineadh mar … . ” (The little lost cat is crying because …).

Of course, the cat isn’t crying during the entire video, but when it does, it cries diamonds, so there’s go to be something intense going on there.

As for the Irish for “creepy,” as in “creepy cat from outer space,” that’s a little food for thought.  “Snámhach” vaguely works, and it does mean “creepy,” but more in that sense of something that is “ag snámh ar an talamh” (creeping along the ground; “snámh” typically means “to swim” as in the water, but it can also mean to creep, crawl, or glide, depending on context).

A “creepy” feeling isn’t really expressed with an adjective (so we don’t really say “creepy cat”) but we could adapt one of the following:

Bhí drithlíní faitís liom, lit. Twinges of fear were with me (for a creepy feeling that really makes you afraid)

Or a variation, a little more intense:

Bhí drithlíní (eagla) ag dul tríom, lit. Twinges (of fear)  were going through me. (for a “creepy-crawly” feeling)

Chuir sé cáithníní ag rith ar mo chraiceann, It made my flesh creep, lit. It put small flakes (i.e. goose-flesh or goose-bumps)  running on my skin.

Some other choices, which I think are a little strong for an caitín, which after all, was selected for “a gleoiteacht” (if it’s a female kitten; “a ghleoiteacht” if it’s male)”

lionraitheach – creepy, terrifying

uaigneach – lonely, haunted, can describe a “creepy” place

Hmm, maybe I should remember some of those ideas for “áthchúrsáil” next “Oíche Shamhna.”  Looking forward to your back-stories, if you’re so inspired.  SGF–Róislín

Turducken Redux (.i. Turlaicín Fillte)

Posted on 26. Nov, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Turkey Season is definitely upon us and offers us a good excuse to “talk turkey” (literally) and to revisit the previous “Turlaicín” blog in this series (, 18 Mí na Samhna 2011).
First, a quick reminder of the word “turkey” itself:

an turcaí [un TUR-kee], the turkey, pronounced pretty much like English although there is a slight flap of the “r,” which can be a little tricky before a consonant.  To practice the Irish “flapped r” sound, it’s probably easier to try words like “Nóra” or “móra,” where the flapped “r” is between two vowels.  The “flap” is like the beginning of a trill, as in the Spanish or Welsh “r,” but cut off almost as soon as the trilling starts.

There’s no change for the possessive form in the singular:

ceann an turcaí, the head of the turkey

na turcaithe, the turkeys

And eclipsis (t becomes dt, only the “d” is pronounced) for the possessive plural form:

sprochaillí na dturcaithe [SPROKH-il-yee nuh DUR-kih-huh], the wattles of the turkeys

In an earlier blog we practiced counting turkeys, and adjusting the word “turkey” after the numbers (, 3 Mí na Samhna 2011).  Here ‘s a sampler, and, if I do say so myself, these are fun to pronounce, in a ‘herky-jerky’ way:

turcaí amháin [TUR-kee uh-WAW-in], one turkey

sé thurcaí [shay HUR-kee, the "t" is silent due to lenition], six turkeys; this form (thurcaí) is used after the numbers 2 through 6

naoi dturcaí [nee DUR-kee], nine turkeys; this form [dturcaí] is used after the numbers 7 through 10

When we get to multiples of ten, the word simply stays as “turcaí”

fiche turcaí [FIH-huh TUR-kee], 20 turkeys

céad turcaí [kyayd TUR-kee], 100 turkeys

milliún turcaí [mil-yoon TUR-kee], 1,000,000 turkeys (just a drop in the bucket of the number sold in the U.S. this year for Lá Altaithe, which is about 250,000,000)

No doubt the tófurcaithe ( ) have made some inroads into this market, since I believe I’ve read for previous years it was closer to 300,000,000 turkeys sold.  But I doubt that the craze for tófurcaí accounts for the smaller number.  Perhaps more families are joining together, sharing their turkey instead of having separate Thanksgiving dinners.

Of course, we’re not even quite at séasúr na Nollag yet, which is when turkey consumption will no doubt increase in Ireland and Britain.  In my experience, American families are more likely to have liamhás (ham) for Christmas, perhaps because they’re all turkeyed out, after fuílleach Lá Altaithe (Thanksgiving leftovers), which include ceapairí turcaí, anraith turcaí, Turcaí Tetrazzini, enchiladas (enchiladaí?) turcaí, turcaí à la king, “pióga pota” turcaí (rud nach bhfuair mé riamh in Éirinn), agus casaróil thurcaí ina measc.

And by the way, a “Turk” (the person) is “Turcach,” plural “Turcaigh.”

Next, let’s check out the word “turlaicín” itself.  This word, following the “TUR-key DUCK chick-EN” pattern, is a combination of the following:

turcaí (ní nach ionadh)

lacha [LAHKH-uh], duck

sicín [SHIK-een], chicken

Más amhlaidh gur bhain tú sult as an mblag seo, tá mé cinnte go mbainfidh tú sult as na pictiúirí, íomhánna, agus cartúin ag an suíomh seo:  Comhrá greannmhar le coileach, lacha, agus turcaí i gcuid acu.

Agus creid é nó ná creid é, tá “turlaicín na farraige” i bpictiúr amháin ar an suíomh sin.  Siorc a d’ith siorc eile atá ann agus feiceann tú béal an tsiorca is lú istigh i mbéal an tsiorca is mó.   Smaoineamh nua do SpielbergGialla a Trí?  Gialla Comhlárnacha?

Tuilleadh eolais faoi “thurlaicín na farraige” ag

Chomh maith leis sin, tá t-léine thurlaicín le feiceáil ar an suíomh pinterest sin, agus tá sé ar fáil anseo: .  “The Turducken Circle T-Shirt” atá uirthi.  Éin chomhlárnacha i gciorcail chomhlárnacha.  Wonders never cease!

Pé ar bith éan (nó “veigéan” déanta de thófú nó rud éigin mar sin) a itheann tú ar Lá Altaithe sna Stáit Aontaithe agus i gCeanada nó ar Lá na Nollag go ginearálta, tá súil agam go bhfuil sé súmhar blasta.  SGF–Róislín

Gluaisín: béal, mouth; comhlárnach, concentric; Gialla a Trí, Jaws 3 (mar dhea); na farraige, of the sea; siorc, shark; súmhar, juicy; veigeán, vegan (an gnáthlitriú ach rinne mé athrú beag bídeach le haghaidh an bhlag seo–an bhfaca tú é?)