Ón Teanga Taíno go Gaeilge (‘barabicu’ go ‘beárbaiciú’)

Posted on 22. May, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In the last blog, we referred to “séasúr na mbeárbaiciúnna” (barbecue season) while discussing the Irish word “citseap” (from the Chinese ‘kôe-chiap’ or its Malay variation).  This blog will look more closely at the word “beárbaiciú” itself, which, clearly enough, means “barbecue.”  Or should that be “barbeque”?  Or “bar-b-q”?   Or BBQ?  Or, “the barbie” (a bhuí leis na hAstrálaigh, lena gcuid “ie-anna” mar brekkie, caulie, muddie, stubbie, tallie, tinnie, etc.).  “Barbie” seems to sound like “Bobby” when the Australians (na hAstrálaigh) say it.  Ach, Béarla na hAstráile, sin ábhar blag eile (agus tionchar na Gaeilge air).

Bhuel, so far at least, I’ve only seen one spelling for the word in Irish, “beárbaiciú,” probably because it’s a relative newcomer to the language.  And those B-Q-variations wouldn’t be likely in a language that has so few words spelled with a “q,” which was not traditionally a part of the 18-letter original Irish alphabet.  “Quinín” and “quineol” are the two prominent exceptions.

There is one more related word for “barbecue” in Irish, with a completely different history, “fulacht.”   Too much for one blog, so this will be ábhar blag eile, some day.  I have to admit that “fulacht” always makes me think of the Fianna and “na SeanGhaeil,” not of Lá Saoirse or Lá Cuimhneacháin” i Meiriceá.  I guess that was because I first heard the word in stories of Fionn Mac Cumhail and his warriors (na Fianna), where the meat was more likely hog than hot dog.

What about the history of the word “barbecue” as such, anyway?  It’s been in the English language since at least 1661, with various spellings and inflections, like “barbacu’d” and “barbecu’s.”  Samuel Johnson nailed our modern spelling with his definition of “barbecue” (spelled thus): a hog dressed whole” referring to the original custom of cooking the whole animal in a pit, not over a grill.   The word came into English via the Spanish, who wrote it as “barbacoa,” based on the original “barabicu” in Taíno (an Arawakan language).  Not that the Taíno people were writing the word out in the 17th century, but presumably the Spanish heard “barabicu” and wrote it as “barbacoa.”

I’ve only seen it in Irish in the last couple of decades.  Tagairt ar bith roimhe sin, a léitheoirí?

Here are the forms of the word:

an beárbaiciú, the barbecue

an bheárbaiciú [un VyAWR-bik-yoo], of the barbecue; blas an bheárbaiciú (the taste of the barbecue)

na beárbaiciúnna, the barbecues, with the “-(ú)nna” plural ending, as found in a few, but not many, Irish words, like criúnna, scriúnna, brúscriúnna, and caisiúnna (aka cnónna caisiú), and from the Japanese “kokyus,” coiciúnna.  The “-nna” ending is sometimes applied to other vowels, as in cnónna, which we just saw in “cnónna caisiú,” and “sleánna.”

na mbeárbaiciúnna [nuh MyAWR-bik-yoo-nuh], of the barbecues; dátaí na mbeárbaiciúnna (the dates of the barbecues, referring to an event, not the food or equipment itself)

Some of the meats that are typically barbecued, in approximate order of popularity, are:





turcaí, and somewhat uniquely, specifically in western Kentucky,

caoireoil (not usually eaten much in the U.S., not even instobhach Gaelach,” which many Americans make withmairteoil

Cén cineál beárbaiciú is fearr leat?  Any favorite barbecue recipes you’d care to share? I nGaeilge nó i mBéarla?  If you send it in English, we can make it a future blog to translate it into Irish.

Tá an blag seo ag cur ocrais orm!  SGF — Róislín

Gluais: caoireoil, mutton; ispín, sausage; mairteoil, beef; muiceoil, pork; ocrais, (of) hunger

Cén Focal Gaeilge a Thagann ón tSínis? (Leid: Itear ar Bhrocairí Teo é)

Posted on 18. May, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín) 

Cén focal Gaeilge a thagann ón tSínis?  Bhuel, OK, English is a significant intermediary, but it is interesting to consider how certain words have become gaelicized.   Especially if they start out as something like “ kôe-chiap ” or “ kê-chiap ” (literally, brine of pickled fish).

Spúnóg phlaisteach, scian phlaisteach, forc plaisteach agus an citseap uileláithreach i mbuidéal plaisteach!  Hmm, cad a dúirt an tUasal Mag Uidhir le Benjamin faoi phlaisteach?  Á, sin é, "Tá todhchaí iontach in ábhair phlaisteacha.  Bí ag smaoineamh faoi."  (ó "An Céimí, 1967)

Spúnóg phlaisteach, scian phlaisteach, forc plaisteach agus an citseap uileláithreach i mbuidéal plaisteach! Hmm, cad a dúirt an tUasal Mag Uidhir le Benjamin faoi phlaisteach? Á, sin é, “Tá todhchaí iontach in ábhair phlaisteacha. Bí ag smaoineamh faoi.” (ó “An Céimí, 1967)

As you may have guessed from looking at those transliterations from Chinese (Hokkien), and perhaps also from the clue (leid) in this blog’s title, that we eat it on “brocairí teo,” the answer is “citseap.”

Just in time for séasúr na mbeárbaiciúnna, which is rapidly approaching.  So let’s backtrack a bit and see how this word appeared, first in English, then, from the scanty data available, in Irish.

There are many accounts of the origin of the word “ketchup” (aka “catsup”) in English.  The nutshell version will do for our purposes.

The word “ketchup” had entered the English language by about 1750.  It seems unclear as to whether the word came from Chinese or Malay-Indonesian (“kecap“),  but the Chinese originally meant means “fish sauce,” and, yes, it was fermented.   Similar, I presume, to the ancient Romans’ garum.  I’ve read various descriptions of the Malay-Indonesian, “kecap,” but it seems that was “soy sauce,” not “fish sauce.”  Feedback from any speakers of these languages would certainly be welcome.

The original recipes for ketchup did not call for tomatoes; that apparently started around 1800.  Early Western recipes survive for “walnut ketchup,” attested in a “household book” of recipes from Jane Austen’s family, and “mushroom ketchup.”   But apparently these sauces, which involved fermentation, were an attempt to imitate the Chinese fermented fish sauce, introduced to the West via sailors.  I guess fermentation creates a similar taste no matter what the basis is, otherwise I’d be saying “Iasc?” “Gallchnónna?” “Muisiriúin?”  Tasting similar?  Uh, beyond this blog!

There’s plenty to read about the history of ketchup in the West and about the word “ketchup” in English (cúpla nasc thíos).  But our main interest here, is, of course, the Irish.

So we have the word “citseap.”

Although I can’t pinpoint it specifically, it seems to have entered the Irish language sometime between the 1930s and the 1950s.  In an admittedly brief search, I don’t see it in any pre-1950s sources, but it does appear by 1959 in Tomás de Bhaldraithe’s English-Irish Dictionary.

Here are the forms of the word “citseap“:

an citseap, the ketchup; pronounced almost like the English but with more of a “kit” sound rather than a “ketch” sound and more of an “ap” sound than an “up” sound, i.e. “KIT-shap” not “KETCH-up.

citsip, of ketchup; buidéal citsip (a bottle of ketchup)

an chitsip, of the ketchup; blas an chitsip (the taste of the ketchup)

Generally speaking, the word “citseap” isn’t considered to have a plural, but if one were really needed, in would probably also be “citsip,” since the word is 1st-declension and masculine.  I wouldn’t normally use “ketchups”  much in English either, only perhaps to discuss types (These ketchups are tomato-based and those aren’t, perhaps referring to the Filipino banana ketchup).

The word “citseap” can also be lenited and eclipsed, as in:

Sin é mo chitseap-sa.  That’s MY ketchup.  (Faigh comhthéacs dó sin, más féidir leat!)

Tá blas aisteach ar an gcitseap sin.  There’s a strange taste on that ketchup.

And finally, how would we use this word in a typical sentence?

Ar mhaith leat citseap ar do bhrocaire te?  Would you like ketchup on your hot dog?

(Freagraí: ba mhaith for “yes,” níor mhaith for “no”).

And maybe you’ve had this conversation before:

A: Aaargh!  Níl an citseap ag teacht amach as an mbuidéal seo. 

B: Buail ar “ghualainn” an bhuidéil é, sin an t-iomaire idir “mhuinéal” an bhuidéil agus an “corp”!

A: Cén fáth ansin? De ghnáth buailim bun an bhuidéil i gcásanna mar seo.

B: Níl a fhios agam ach oibríonn sé.  Rud éigin a bhaineann leis an bhfisic, is dócha.   

Agus an t-aistriúchán:

A: Aaargh!  The ketchup is not coming out of this bottle.

B: Hit it on the shoulder of the bottle, that’s the ridge where the “neck” of the bottle meets the “body”!

A: Why there?  I usually hit the bottom of the bottle in cases like this.

B: I don’t know but it works.  Something to do with physics, I suppose.

Bhuel, sin é, stair an fhocail “citseap,” foirmeacha an fhocail, agus comhrá samplach faoi chitseap.  “Faoi chitseap”?  Sea, séimhiú ar an “c” mar gheall ar an bhfocal “faoi” roimhe, mar “faoi bhord” agus “faoi bhosca” (in ionad “bord” agus “bosca”).  SGF — Róislín

P.S. Go raibh maith agat, a Mharnaí, a thaispeáin dom an dóigh cheart le buidéal citsip a bhualadh má bhíonn an citseap malltrialach ag teacht amach.   

Naisc: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1673352/how-500-years-of-weird-condiment-history-designed-the-heinz-ketchup-bottle


Pronunciation Tips for ”Six Ways to Say ‘I Want Some More’ in Irish”

Posted on 14. May, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

From time to time (ó am go ham), I like to go back to a previous blog and provide more pronunciation notes.  Here are a few more tips for ” Six Ways to Say, ‘I Want Some More’ in Irish (ag cur Gaeilge ar athfhriotal clúiteach Oilibhéir)” (10 Bealtaine 2014; nasc thíos).

As usual, the main emphasis will be on distinguishing words in their root forms from words with lenition (séimhiú) or eclipsis (urú).  In other words, if you remember learning “madra” and “mo mhadra” or “Bostún” and “i mBostún,” that’s what we’ll be looking at here (say: MAH-druh, muh WAH-druh, BOS-toon, im-OS-toon).  There isn’t room in one blog to cover all possible dialect variations.

So let’s look at the following pairs of words, as shown in the previous blog.  These words may have more forms, but we’re not going to cover all of them here (ganntanas spáis): maith / mhaith, díth / dhíth, fuair / ní bhfuair, sá / shá and sáith / sháith, dóthain / dhóthain / ndóthain (which will bring us back to the infamous ‘voiced velar fricative,’ previously discussed in various blogs, listed below), caisleán / chaisleán, béile / bhéile, and, for good measure, although it didn’t appear in its lenited form in the previous blog, praiseach / phraiseach.

Why special attention to ‘praiseach‘?   Because it’s so much fun to say this word, whose meanings include “thin porridge,” “gruel,” “mess” and “hash,” (but not “corned-beef hash,” just “hash” in the “dog’s dinner” or “traed moch” sense).   And if it’s useful to call something “praiseach,” we might also want to sometimes be more specific and say “an phraiseach.”

So, down to the nitty-gritty:

1a) maith [mah], good, as in “Is maith liom U2” or “An maith leat hákarl?”  Literally, these mean “U2 is good with me” and “Is hákarl good with you?”

1b) mhaith [wah], still means “good,” literally, but also occurs in sentences like “Ba mhaith liom tuilleadh leitean” (I would like more porridge, presumably a little thicker than “praiseach).”  Literally, this means “More porridge would be good with me.”

2a) díth [djeeh, with a puff of breath at the end, like starting to say “djee-huh”], need, want

2b) de dhíth [djeh yee-h], lit. of need, of want, also with the puffy “h” sound at the end.

3a) fuair [FOO-irzh, with the distinct Irish slender “s,” as found in the Czech name Jiří.] The slender “r” sound is almost unknown in English, so the Czech example is one the few, reasonably recognizable comparisons.  ‘Fuair‘  means “got.”

3b) ní bhfuair [nee WOO-irzh], didn’t get.  Usually we have séimhiú (lenition, with “f” becoming “fh”) after the negating “,” but the verb “get” (faigh) is irregular, so we have urú (eclipsis, with “f” becoming “bhf”) instead.

4a) [saw] or sáith [approximately saw-ih, very hard to transcribe in writing], a sufficiency

4b) shá [haw] or sháith [haw-ih], as in “mo shá” or “mo sháith,” both meaning “my sufficiency,” i.e. “enough for me.

5a) dóthain [DOH-hin], a sufficiency

5b) dhóthain [γOH-hin], as in “mo dhóthain ” (my sufficiency).  The initial sound is represented by the Greek gamma sign  It has no parallel in English or Welsh, but it’s like the “g” found in some varieties of Spanish (“agua,” not like the standard “AHG-wuh” that I first learned but more of a throaty breathy “AH-hwuh”).   Linguistically, this is the voiced velar fricative (cúpla nasc faoi thíos).

5c) ndóthain [NOH-hin], as in “seacht ndóthain,” which we saw in the last blog  in “Tá a seacht ndóthain le rá aici, She talks far too much,” lit. There are her seven sufficiencies to say at her.”

6a) caisleán [KASH-lyawn], castle

6b) chaisleán [KHASH- lyawn], as in “sáith rí de chaisleán,” a castle fit for a king, lit. a king’s sufficiency of a castle.  “Of a castle” is not possessive here (i.e. not like “doors of a castle,” which would be ‘doirse caisleáin‘), but refers to the size of the castle.  Similarly, we might say “lán doirn de mhilseáin,” which means … (freagra thíos, dúshláinín beag d’fhoghlaimeoirí)

The “ch” of “chaisleán” is like the “ch” of German “Achtung,” Yiddish “chutzpah,” Welsh “bach,” and Irish and Scottish Gaelic and some Scottish English “loch.”  Linguistically, it’s the voiceless velar fricative.

7a) béile [BAYL-yuh], a meal

7b) bhéile [VAYL-yuh], as in “dóthain rí de bhéile,” a meal fit for a king, lit. a king’s sufficiency of a meal

8a) praiseach [PRASH-ukh], thin porridge, gruel, hash, mess

8b) an phraiseach [un FRASH-ukh], the thin porridge, the gruel, the hash, the mess

So that’s eight sets of words with changes to the first letter, making at least a dent in the iceberg of Irish inflections.  There are tens of thousands of examples, but the basic patterns are:

séimhiú: “h” is added after b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, t

urú: the following changes occur: b changes to mb, c to gc, d to nd (as in “seacht ndóthain“), f to bhf (as in “ní bhfuair“), g to ng, p to bp, and t to dt.  Of these, today’s blog only dealt with “nd” and “bhf.”


P.S. lán doirn de mhilseáin, a fistful of sweets (a fistful of candies), lit. the full of a fist of sweets

P.P.S. TSAGGSSL, Tá súil agam go gcuidíonn sé seo leat (libh).


http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/six-ways-to-say-i-want-some-more-in-irish-ag-cur-gaeilge-ar-athfhriotal-cluiteach-oilibheir/ (Six Ways to Say, “I Want Some More” in Irish (ag cur Gaeilge ar athfhriotal clúiteach Oilibhéir) ; 10 Bealtaine 2014)

http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/saying-i-love-you-in-irish/ (Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives ; 9 Deireadh Fómhair 2011)

http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/how-to-pronounce-a-dheaide-a-dhaidi-and-other-forms-of-daddaddy-in-irish/ (How To Pronounce ‘A Dheaide,’ ‘A Dhaidí,’ and Other Forms of ‘Dad/Daddy’ in Irish ; 6 Meitheamh 2013)