Gluaisín do ‘Ó Tillich go (Henry) Bemis: Solitude vs. Loneliness agus Dearcadh na Gaeilge’

Posted on 30. Aug, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Looking over the last blog, ar “uaigneas” agus “aonaracht,” I thought some léitheoirí might welcome a gluaisín ([GLOO-ish-een] little glossary) and cuidiú [KWIDJ-yoo] le fuaimniú [FOO-im-nyoo, with that "-ny-" like the "-ny-" in "canyon"].

If you didn’t get a seans [shanss] to read an blag sin yet, seo an nasc: .  If you did have a chance to read it, you may recall that it dealt with a quote from theologian/philosopher Paul Tillich on the words “solitude” and “loneliness.”  It concluded by pondering the Catch-22-type difficulty of asking “Henry Bemis” about the matter.  “Bemis,” played by Burgess Meredith in the “Time Enough At Last” of The Twilight Zone, was left “ina aonar” after an H-bomb destroyed the entire population of the world, so he should be something of an expert on the subjects of “uaigneas” and “aonaracht.”

Ach ar an drochuair, áfach, ní féidir linn ceist a chur ar Bemis mar, de réir na heipeasóide sin, níl duine ar bith eile ann, muide san áireamh.    Ach muna bhfuil muide ann, cé muide … ach, bhuel, sin ceist eiseach do na fealsúnaithe!  Tá cúpla nasc don eipeasóid sin thíos. 

Agus seo an gluaisín, na heochairfhocail [HUKH-irzh-OK-il] ar dtús [dooss, silent "t"] agus ansin rogha [say "row," as in "cow," "now," or the UK pronunciation of "a row," i.e. a quarrel, a word not used much in the US.]:

uaigneas [OO-ig-nyuss], loneliness (and sometimes “solitude,” etc., as previously discussed)

aonaracht [AYN-urr-ukht], solitude (and sometimes “loneliness,” as previously discussed).  That “ay” of “ayn,” by the way, in this transcription, is as in “hay” or “may,” not as in the semi-invented, semi-traditional name “Ayn.”

uaigneach [OO-ig-nyukh], lonely, etc.

uaigneachán [OO-ig-nyukh-awn]: solitary person, hermit

aonar {AYN-urr], one person, a lone person, based on the number “aon” (one)

aonaránacht [AYN-ur-AWN-ukht], solitariness

Agus roinnt [rinch] focal eile a bhí sa bhlag sin:

dearcadh [DJARK-uh, with Donegal dialect speakers typically saying "DJARK-oo;" either way, the "-dh" at the end is a vowel sound, not a consonant]: outlook, look, gaze, viewpoint

athfhriotal [AH-RIT-ul, note the first "t" and the "fh" are silent]: a quote.  This word is based on “ath-” [ah], which means “re-” and “friotal” [FRIT-ul], which means “speech” or “expression.”  Putting “ath-” in front of “friotal” causes “friotal” to change to “fhriotal” [RIT-ul].  Gotta keep your “friotals” and “fhriotals” straight!  Not to mention your “miotail [MITul], your “cóimhiotail” [KOH-VIT-ul],” and your “tearcmhiotail [TCHARK-VIT-ul], not to mention your “sofhriotail [suh-RIT-ul]!”

suimiúil [SIM-yoo-il]; interesting

ábhar [AW-wur], subject, topic

doiléir [DWIL-yayrzh]: dim, obscure, vague

neamhshoiléir [NYOW-HIL-yayrzh, with the "nyow" as in "cow" or "how"; it's not so difficult if you remember that "neamh-" is a prefix]: not clear, not distinct, not plain

fealsúnaí [fyal-SOON-ee, with the "fy-" as in "few" or "feudal'], philosopher

eiseach [ESH-ukh], existential

diagaire [DJEE-uh-gurzh-uh], theologian, based on “dia” (god)

H-bhuama [AYTCH-WOO-um-uh, or however you care to pronounce the "H-" part, such as "HAYTCH-WOO-um-uh]; H-bomb.  The key thing here is that the word “buama” ([BOO-uh-muh] changes to “bhuama” [WOO-um-uh] after the prefix.

faidhbín [FIE-been, with the "fie" like English "fie" or "pie" or "my"], a little problem; usually this would be expressed as “fadhb bheag” (a little problem), but I added this “-ín” suffix here, for extra impact.

todhchaí [TOW-khee, with the "ow" as in "cow" or "now"], future.  This is mostly used in the abstract sense, not for describing aspects of grammar such as “the future tense,” which would be “an aimsir fháistineach” (the future or, literally, “prophesying’ tense).  In my experience, “todhchaí” mostly comes up in the phrase “sa todhchaí” (in the future).

And if someone (cainteoir Polainnise?) would like to offer up a pronunciation guide for “Trzcińsko-Zdrój,” the Polish town where Paul Tillich spent part of his childhood, as mentioned in the previous blog, it would be very welcome.  Bhuel, actually, athsmaoineamh [AH-SMWEEN-yuv], I’ll let my fingers do the walking and cliceáil on the Wikipedia entry, and, lo and behold, there it is, in IPA: [ˈtʂt͡ɕiɲskɔ ˈzdrui̯].  I’d still like to hear it pronounced (not surprisingly!), but for now, at least, that one’s settled.  Someday I’d like to learn the basics of Polish, at least enough to be able to confidently pronounce short words like “prosze” (le do thoil) or “ojciec” (athair).  Not to mention useful phrases like “Szczesliwego Nowego Roku” (Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise) or “Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!” (Lá breithe sona duit).  Agus b’fhéidir, lá éigindziewięćdziesięciokilkuletniemuagus “pięćdziesięciogroszówka.”

I can, however, say,Na Zdrowie!” (Irish: “Sláinte“) reasonably well I think, but simply because I’ve heard it previously.

And, hmm, now that I’ve somehow delved into Polish, I guess it’s time to say “pożegnanie.”  Or should that be “Do widzenia!”  Maybe I’d better stick to Irish!  Slán go fóill, Róislín

Nóta 1: cúpla nasc do “Time Enough at Last” or

Nóta 2 — Maidir leis an bPolainnis: níl cleachtadh ar bith agam leis na focail Pholainnise seo i gcomhthéacs beo.  Tá súil agam go bhfuil cainteoir Polainnise ar bith atá ar an liosta seo sásta leo! 

Ó Tillich go (Henry) Bemis: ‘Solitude’ vs. ‘Loneliness’ agus Dearcadh na Gaeilge

Posted on 27. Aug, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Uaigneas nó Aonaracht?

Uaigneas nó Aonaracht?

I recently came across the following athfhriotal suimiúil from Paul Tillich, which set me thinking about the Irish parallels for his discussion: “Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone.  It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.”

The quote raises a few questions, which I can’t really answer here.  First, what does he mean by “our language”?  Gearmáinis?  He would have spoken German in his childhood and early adult life.  Perhaps also Polainnis, given the locations where he was born and lived as a child (the Province of Brandenberg and Trzcińsko-Zdrój, formerly also known as “Bad Schonfließ, in northwestern Poland).

Aonaracht nó Uaigneas?

Aonaracht nó Uaigneas?

Tillich came to America in 1933, to escape Nazi Germany.  So does he mean English in this quote?  Was he more aware of differentiations in meaning in English because of learning it as a second (or third?) language?

Or does he mean human language in general?  That would open up the question of solitude vs. loneliness quite broadly.  What do the approximately 5999 other languages in the word indicate on the subject?But our interest here, of course, is dearcadh na Gaeilge ar an ábhar.  Ideally, this could become a great fieldwork research project, ag cur ceisteanna ar dhaoine faoina mbarúlacha.  But for this blog, will simply take a gander at the dictionary definitions and see what they can tell us.  Underlying that is my own general perception of the issue, which I never really thought of so specifically either for Irish or English before finding the Tillich quote and writing this blog.

So, the personal tack first.  If you asked me, point blank, what words I’d use for “loneliness” and “solitude.”  I’d say “uaigneas” for “loneliness” and “aonaracht” for “solitude.”  I don’t know if Tillich was trying to suggest that only English, or perhaps only German, made such a fine distinction, but if he was, we certainly find a similar distinction in Irish.  It is, like many definitions, though, a bit doiléir (neamhshoiléir) around the edges.

Each of these words, “uaigneas” and “aonaracht” has additional layers of meaning, so this is where the dictionaries come in.  Of course, a comhchordacht of every bit of Irish every spoken would be even better, but, by its very nature, most spoken language isn’t preserved.  Anyway, let’s look at each word in turn:

uaigneas, loneliness (an t-uaigneas, the loneliness; an uaignis, of the loneliness;  no plural): this word can also mean “a lonely place” (but more in the abstract than in physical terms), “the state of being alone,” and “the feeling of loneliness.”  Oh, and did I mention, it can also mean “solitude,” as in “ag siúl san uaigneas” (walking in solitude.”  Related words include “uaigneach” (lonely, lonesome, solitary, secret, haunted, unearthly, eerie, and sometimes “a lonely person”) and “uaigneachán” (a hermit or solitary person).

aonaracht, solitude (an aonaracht, the solitude; na haonarachta, of the solitude; usually no plural although it seems to me it could have one, if we’re thinking of “solitude” as “an isolated place,” as sometimes pertains, i mBéarla ar a laghad): this word can also mean “singularity” and, lo and behold, it can also mean “loneliness,” although that last meaning is probably not as prevalent for “aonaracht” today, with “uaigneas” usually filling that semantic slot.

And then there’s also “aonarachas,” also translated as “solitude,” but I’ll leave parsing out that slight difference (or is there any?) for another day.  And then there’s “aonaránacht” (solitariness), just to add to the mix!  “Aonaránacht” is based on “aonar” (one person, a lone person).  Although it is a noun, it is often used as an adjective, as in “comhrac aonair” (single combat), or in the phrase “ina aonar,” as in “Bhí sé ina aonar” (he was on his own).

So what is the conclusion, in Tillichian terms?  Bhuel, speaking broadly, “uaigneas” has more to do with emotions, and “aonaracht” has more to do with the physical state of being on one’s own.  But, like many words, there’s some overlap, and ultimately, cad a rialaíonnComhthéacs, comhthéacs, comhthéacs!  That’s pronounced “KOH-hayks,” by the way, and means, you guessed it, “context.”  Is there a different sense of loneliness and solitude in Irish as opposed to other languages?  Can one be solitary but not lonely?  Can one be lonely in a crowd?  Is Irish any different from English or German, or whatever language(s) Tillich had in mind?  I’ve just presented the tip of the iceberg here for this issue, but I hope you feel, as I do, that it’s at least good food for thought.   Please weigh in on the subject if you have some barúlacha on the matter.

Agus cad faoi Paul Tillich (1886-1965) é féin?  Cén sórt duine a bhí ann?  Fealsúnaí eiseach agus diagaire ab ea é.  Tháinig sé go Meiriceá i 1933 mar bhí cuireadh aige a bheith ag teagasc ag Union Theological Seminary i Nua-Eabhrac agus bhí sé deacair dó a bheith ag fanacht sa Ghearmáin.

There are volumes by and on Paul Tillich, far more than we need be concerned with here.  But I do note, looking over some of his titles, that they would present a challenge to a translator, especially The Courage To Be and The New Being.  One could take a literal approach, of course, but would such phrases have a good “flow” and sound natural.  At any rate, that’s a rainy-if-ever day project, unless a reader wants to undertake it.  Or see if any of Tillich’s works have already been translated into Irish.

As for the final word on “solitude” vs. “loneliness,” I think for that we’ll have to ask Henry Bemis.  An cuimhin leat é?  Ó The Twilight ZoneEisean an t-aon duine amháin a bhí fágtha ar an domhan tar éis H-bhuama san eipeasóid, “Time Enough at Last” ( or, hmmm, tá faidhbín beag againn, nach bhfuil?  Dá mba é Henry Bemis an t-aon duine amháin a bheadh beo sa todhchaí, ní bheadh muide (mar dhea) ábalta an cheist a chur air!  Agus sin ábhar machnaimh! SGF, Róislín

Fuaimniú, /fuəm’n’u:/, [FOO-im-nyoo] (Pronunciation x3)

Posted on 24. Aug, 2013 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

A few weeks ago, I received a request for more pronunciation tips, so this blog will be dedicated to pronouncing some of the vocabulary in “Deir Tusa ‘Slán,’ Deirimse ‘Haló’ (Saying ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ in Irish, Cuid a hAon: Hello), which was published several months ago (24 Bealtaine 2013).   Go raibh maith agat, a Néill, as scríobh (and for asking about the Hello/Goodbye blog).

Abair mar seo é!

Abair mar seo é!

Ultimately we want to reach a point in learning a new language where we can confidently predict how to pronounce a word by looking at it.  That may be as much of a challenge for people learning English as for those learning Irish, since English is notorious for the inconsistency of its spelling/pronunciation rules (aye, my eye, fie, cough, tough, taught, thought, and countless other short, seemingly simple one-syllable words, not to mention the lengthier “pterodactyl,” “chthonic,” and “syzygy,” some of my more obscure favorites).  But for native English-speakers, most of these words are taken for granted (well, except maybe those ‘pt-” and “chth-” examples and words with only “y” as a vowel, which range from the fundamental “my” and “rhythm” to the more or less obsolete “symphysy” and “twyndyllyngs”).  For English-speakers learning Irish, though, the pronunciation rules may seem daunting.  And, of course, native speakers rarely think consciously of the rules, unless they become teachers themselves.

Anyway, getting back to the Irish examples, here are some of the words from that “Hello/Goodbye” blog.  Many of the other blogs in this series also include pronunciation tips.  In fact, if you type “pronunciation,” “pronounce,” or “fuaimniú” into the search box on any of the Irish blog web pages (, you should get lots more samplaí [SAHM-plee].

I mostly use a rough guide to pronunciation here, not the IPA symbols, but there are some sounds for which only the IPA symbol will suffice, most notably /γ/, for which there is no equivalent in English. 

Here are a few reminders for the transcription system I’m using:

kh: like the “ch” in Hebrew “Chanukah,” Welsh “bach,” and Scots “Loch”

rzh: an “r” combined with a sound like the “j” of “Jacques” or the “s” of “leisure” or “pleasure”

aw: like English “paw” or “claw,” not like Welsh “naw

dj: almost like an English “j” and similar to the British pronunciation of “Duke,” which is very different from the American pronunciation of “Duke,” as móidíní John Wayne may confirm.  Also similar to the American English contraction “howdja,” as in “Howdja do that?”

tch; almost like a “ch” as in “church” but with a “t” element; similar to a typical Irish English pronunciation of “tunes,” which sometimes, for effect, is written as “choons”

/γ/: the “dh” sound of “Dia dhuit!”  This sound is written as “gh” or “dh” in Irish, when adjacent to “a,” “o,” or “u” (not “e” or “i”).  The linguistic name for this sound is “voiced velar fricative” and it is indicated by the “gamma” sign, borrowed from the Greek alphabet.  And that’s a reminder that the symbol here is not a slightly skewed “y.”  If anything, it looks to me, when hand-drawn, like a fish standing on its head.  Not that fish really stand … ach sin scéal eile.  Additional examples of this sound include “dhá” (except in Donegal, where the dialect changes), “An Ghaeilge,” and “a Ghráinne.”  It’s a bit like the uvular French “r” (think Inspector Clouseau, if you must), and is said to sound like gargling.  Very occasionally we hear this sound in the pronunciation of “gh” in “Afghanistan” (but not by most English speakers).  See below for some more notes on the use of IPA for this symbol, and IPA in general.

As for what these words mean, I’ve put that at the end, so you can see how well you remember them!

1. tuiseal gairmeach [TISH-ul GARzh-uh-mukh]

2. Dia duit! [DJEE-uh ditch]

3. Dia dhuit! [DJEE-uh γitch, and yes, that's a hybrid system, with one IPA symbol and the rest "rough guide"]

4. beannacht [ByAN-ukht]

5. bhuel [wel, borrowed from English; and NOT like English "fuel" or "gruel"]

6. cén chaoi [kayn khee, remember it's guttural, like "Chanukah" or "Chutzpah"]

7. cad é mar [kudj ay mahr, with the "d" as discussed above, as in Irish "Dia" -- it's pronounced "slender" because of the following "é" even though it's written "broad"]

8. ceoldráma [KyOHL-DRAW-muh]

9. smaoinimh [SMWEEN-yiv]

10. mhaith (as in “áit mhaith le tosú) [wah, the "mh" is like "w" and the "t" is silent]

Ar chuidigh sé sin leat (Did that help?).  Tá súil agam gur chuidigh (I hope that helped).  Or, i dTéacsais an Bhéarla, “HTH,” SGF, Róislín

Nóta faoi /γ/ agus IPA: the /γ/ symbol is in slanted brackets because it is the actual IPA symbol and IPA symbols are written in slanted, not square, brackets.  Rusty on IPA?  IPA?  No, it’s not “leann gealbhuí na hIndia“!  Think Henry Higgins, who if he had been real, would probably have been a founding member of the IPA (International Phonetics Association, established1886).  “IPA” can also stand for “International Phonetic Alphabet” (as well as “India Pale Ale”).  And Professor Higgins, by the way, was partially based on two early phoneticians, Henry Sweet and Daniel Jones.  Jones would have been relatively young when Shaw wrote Pygmalion (1912) so he may have been more the model for the movie version (My Fair Lady, 1956/1964) than for the play itself.  But parsing out the Higgins prototypes is beyond our scope here.  If you’re interested, check out The Real Professor Higgins: The Life and Career of Daniel Jones, by Collins and Mees (1998:, etc.).  Or to Cockneyize it, ” The real ‘enry ‘iggins” (, which gives a one-page summary of the main points.

Aistriúcháin go Béarla:

1. tuiseal gairmeach, vocative case (used for nouns of direct address); 2. Dia duit!, Hello!, 3. Dia dhuit! Hello! (Conamara dialect); 4. beannacht, blessing, greeting; 5. bhuel, well (the pause word); 6. cén chaoi?, how?; 7. cad é mar? how?, 8. ceoldráma, musical drama, sometimes also “a musical” or “an opera” (!); 9. smaoinimh, of thinking, 10. mhaith, good (one of various forms of this word)