An Ghaeilge agus an Iodáilis: ‘Àbaco’ go ‘Zombi’ i nGaeilge

Posted on 16. Apr, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

An Iodáilis, buaiteoir an chomórtais 'Multilingual Madness'

An Iodáilis, buaiteoir an chomórtais ‘Multilingual Madness’

Bhí an bua ag an Iodáilis sa chomórtas ‘Buile Ilteangach’ (Multilingual Madness)!  Comhghairdeas di agus dá foghlaimeoirí agus dá cainteoirí.  So we’ll tip our ‘hataí’ here to ‘lucht na hIodáilise’ with a few Irish words related to ‘an Iodáil’ and ‘an teanga Iodáilise.’

Ar dtús, tíreolaíocht (geography)

an Iodáil, (the) Italy.  Note that the word ‘the’ is quite common before country names in Irish.  It doesn’t bring up issues of “the-ness” and “thelessness” as we’ve recently seen in the media for ‘An Úcráin.’ Additional examples: An Ghearmáin, An Spáinn, An Iorua, An tSeapáin, An tSín, srl.

na hIodáile, of (the) Italy; muintir na hIodáile,

an Róimh, (the) Rome

na Róimhe, of (the) Rome; fuaráin na Róimhe,

an Vatacáin, the Vatican

Cathair na Vatacáine, Vatican City

A few other Italian cities have recognized Irish names, among them ‘an Veinéis‘ and ‘Flórans.’  ‘Milan’ jumps to the actual Italian, ‘Milano,’ so we have, for example, “Forógraí Milano,” or for a more contemporary note, ‘faisean Miu Miu mainicíneáilte i Milano.’

And for ‘Naples,’ we apparently have an adjective, ‘Naipleach‘ (Neapolitan), but no separate name for the city itself (Napoli).

Some geographic features, regions and islands of Italy have Irish names, such an Tuscáin, an tSicil, an tSairdín, an Veasúiv, an Tibir, and Sciolla agus Cairíbdis. Others don’t (Pompeii, Abruzzi, Capri, srl.). <croitheadh guaillí Gailleach/Francach anseo>

Agus anois, stórfhocal ginearálta (general vocabulary).

Some Italian words are exactly the same in Irish usage, especially if related to music, e.g. “allegro” and “pizzicato,” which can even be lenited as in “snap-phizzicato.”  Outside the music realm there are terms like “espresso láidir,” “espresso tathagach,” and “cappuccino.” The “Capuchin monkey,” however, is “moncaí caipisíneach.”  Both “cappuccino” and “caipisíneach” ultimately come from the Italian ‘cappùccio‘ (hood), referring to the characteristic brown color of the Capuchin monks’ hooded habits.

A few Italian words have very minor changes in Irish, especially if they already have vowel harmony: solfatára, strettó (adding the long marks) and “gondala” (with just a small vowel change)

Some borrowings get distinctively Irish spellings: áiria, baratón, díbhseach, and soprán, and outside of the music realm: brocailí, casaíne, fúmaról, spaigití. With some of these, there’s a good chance that the borrowing is more likely via English than directly from Italian.  In many cases, the new spelling now accommodates for Irish vowel harmony.

And some words, which in English are clearly Italian borrowings, get completely reformatted for Irish:

“cicisbeo” becomes “leannán

“falsetto”  becomes “cuach” for the voice or “cuachaí” for the singer; not surprisingly, the term “falsetto” itself can also be used

An actual “stiletto” (knife) is a “miodóg,” which also means “dagger,” but in fashion, for heels, there’s an adaptation, “stílín

“zucchini” becomes “cúirséad,” clearly closer to the word used in Irish and British English for this vegetable, “courgette.”  “Zucchini,” though, is a nice reminder of the Italian word “zucca” (gourd, pumpkin, squash), of which it is a diminutive.

Sadly, to me at least, that archetypically Italianish adjective, ‘funicular’ (cf. ‘funicula,’ ‘fune,’ rope, cable) just becomes the prosaic ‘cáblach’ in Irish.  Logical enough, for a funicular (cable-based) railway, but somehow it seems to lackun certo non-so-che .‘ Now I’d love to see “funicula” with an Irish adjective ending, but it doesn’t really seem to be in the cards, or at least not in the dictionaries.   

Finally, let’s look at a few words that happen to be similar in Italian and in Irish, but more from common linguistic ancestors than from direct borrowing:

abacas, abacus.  Iodáilis: àbaco.  This word is probably similar in many languages, but I venture to guess that only Irish and its sister tongue, Scottish Gaelic, have the “t-” prefix giving us the additional form “an t-abacas” (the abacus).  Hmm, maybe Manx as well, I’ll have to hunt for that one.

zombaí, zombie. Iodáilis: zombi.

Bhuel, sin é, comhghairdeas arís leis an Iodáilis agus seo cúpla dóigh le “to tip the hat” a rá i dteangacha eile:  “levarsi il cappello” (Iodáilis), “tirar o chapéu(Portaingéilis), and “tocarse el sombrero(Spáinnis).  And the Irish for that appears to be “do lámh a chur i do hata do dhuine.”  Hmm, that’s a little hard to acronymize (like “HT” in English), but I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for examples.  Can’t say I’ve really encountered that phrase much in daily life, though.  Maybe because more people wear caipíní these days and they don’t “tip” them.  Or maybe the Quaker practice of not doffing one’s hat has finally become entrenched (for a quick glance at the issue in history, check out  Pé scéal é, sin é don bhlag seo.  – Róislín

Nóta: My study of all the modern Romance languages is fairly limited, so any usage tips from readers would be appreciated.  I’ve cross-checked the phrases in Italian and other languages with various dictionaries, online and hard-copy, but from my experience with Irish, I know that these sources can sometimes lead us up (or down) the garden path.  Or as might be said in Irish, it can put the “dallamullóg” on us.  “Dallamullóg“?  It means “deception” and “delusion,” and, in the right context, “blindness in sheep.”

From ‘Multilingual Madness’ to the ‘Siege Perilous’ via a Discussion of ‘Ord na bhFocal’ in Irish

Posted on 14. Apr, 2014 by in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

Lately we’ve looked at the possibilities for saying “multilingual” and “madness” in Irish (ilteangach, buile, among other choices).  The next question is how do we put the two words together.   We’ll follow the typical word order in Irish, first noun, then adjective.   This is the reverse of the normal word order in English (“big boy”), although English has a few exceptions, with the adjective second, like “Attorney General” and “knight-errant,” and for that matter, though well off the beaten track, “the Siege Perilous.”

First, let’s wrap up the phrase “multilingual madness.”  It seems that “buile ilteangach” is the best choice.  None of the other combinations I looked at offered the mellifluous “m-ishness” (is that a word?) of the alliterative “multilingual madness,” but c’est la vie, or as one might say in Irish, “Sin mar atá an saol.”

This year’s winner of the Transparent Language “Multilingual Madness” challenge was Italian (Iodáilis) although Irish put in a good showing (Go raibh maith agaibh!).  No “silíní searbha” here and kudos to “an buaiteoir.”  As a tribute, in an upcoming blog we’ll work on words pertaining to Italian and/or Roman culture.  An Colasaem?   Na Gardaí Eilvéiseacha?  And the foolproof “pasta.”  But is “pasta” in Irish masculine or feminine — there’s always that question with nouns imported from another language.  And I see from a couple of foclóirí Iodáilise that the Italian word “pasta” is grammatically feminine.  So does that have any bearing on its “inscne” in Irish?  Well, that’s the cliffhanger for now.  Imagine, “inscne ghramadúil” as a cliffhanger!

Getting back to the question of word order, let’s look at a few situations in Irish where the adjective doesn’t follow the noun.  And for good measure, we’ll also check out those phrases cited above as exceptions in English: Attorney General, knight-errant, and Siege Perilous.

As noted above, the usual pattern for noun phrases in Irish is “noun-adjective,” as in “bád mór,” “bean ard,” and “léamar bandearrach.”  But there are a few adjectives that either can only be used as a prefix, a few that are typically used as a prefix, and a few which just come before their noun without being a prefix as such.  Here are some examples:

1) Adjectives Used Only As Prefixes

dea-ghuí, a good wish (“dea-” is only used as a prefix)

drochaimsir, bad weather (“droch-” is only used as a prefix)

2) Adjectives That May Be Used As Prefixes

seanfhear, old man (“sean” may be used as a prefix although it can also be used is a separate phrase from the noun, as in “Tá sé sean.”)  “Sean” is somewhat unique in that it must be a prefix to be attributive.

Many adjectives, like “fuar” in the example below, can be used as prefixes to create compound words, even though they’re normally used in separate slots within the sentence (after the noun for attributive, outside the noun phrase for predicate)

fuaraigeantacht, coolness, imperturbability (“fuar” used here as a prefix although it  can also be used attributively in phrases like “seomra fuar” or as a predicate in”Tá sé fuar.”)

In fact, when you get into poetry and song, you’ll find many words created by taking adjectives and making prefixes of them, in combinations that wouldn’t typically be part of everyday speech, as in the following description of a young woman from the poem “Cúirt an Mheán Oíche“(written ca. 1780)

mhallruisc mhilisbhog bhéaltais mhéarlag, lit. “languid-eyed sweet-soft  mouth-moist finger-weak/delicate”

Very effective in poetry, but probably a little much for the average “sweet nothing.”

3) Adjectives That Can Only Precede Their Noun

aon (in the sense of “any,” not “one”), aon duine, any person (as opposed to “duine amháin,” which is “one person”)

gach bean, every woman (and its variants: ‘chuile bhean, gach uile bhean, gach aon bhean, ach’an bhean)

Possessive adjectives also precede their noun (mo leabhar, do mhadra, srl.) but that’s a fairly different grammatical concept.

Sin trí chatagóir, ar a laghad. 

By way of contrast, in English, the adjective usually precedes the noun (big boy, transcendental meditation).  A few exceptions were mentioned above: Attorney General, knight-errant, and Siege Perilous.  Here’s how they turn out in Irish:

a) Ard-Aighne, Attorney General.  The adjective “ard” is used as a prefix, indicating that this is a specific title.  If we just said “aighne ard,” it would most likely be translated as simply “a tall pleader” (not a particularly useful phrase!).  As part of the job title, “ard” conveys the sense of “high” or “of elevated status” (as in “ardrí“).  Related phrases include:

an tArd-Aighne, the Attorney General

Ard-Aighne na hÉireann, the Attorney General of Ireland

Ard-Aighne Cheanada, the Attorney General of Canada

An tArd-Aighne do Gheirsí

An tArd-Aighne do Ghearnsaí

Amadis ón Ghaill, Ridire Fáin

Amadis na Gaille, Ridire Fáin

b) The phrase “knight errant” in Irish doesn’t exactly use an adjective “errant.” Instead , it uses the noun for “wandering” to describe the knight:

ridire fáin, knight-errant, lit. knight of wandering

Interestingly, though, the word order is quite standard, unlike the archaic-seeming English “knight-errant.”  And this follows through for “knight-errantry”:

ridireacht fáin, knight-errantry, lit. knighthood of wandering

An Ridire Galahad sa Suíochán Priaclach (nó contúirteach nó baolach nó dainséarach nó guaiseach)

An Ridire Galahad sa Suíochán Priaclach (nó contúirteach nó baolach nó dainséarach nó guaiseach)

c) And finally, for “Siege Perilous,” with its romantic connotations of Arthurian legend plus its modern-day connections to Andromeda, Exalted, and Marvel Comics, I don’t see any exact equivalent in any Irish source.  I’d suggest “suíochán” (seat) followed by any of various words for “dangerous.”  These would most typically include “contúirteach,” “baolach,” “dainséarach,” and “guaiseach,” but I’m inclined toward “priaclach,” since it would have the same root as “perilous,” as in the French “Siège Périlloux,” the Spanish “Asiento Peligroso,” and even the Galego, “Asento Perigroso.”   But none of these combinations would have the archaic feel of “Siege Perilous.”  Arís, c’est la vie.  At any rate, we wouldn’t use “léigear” (beleaguerment), “forbhais” (act of beleaguering, however that parses differently from “beleaguerment”!), or “imshuí” (encompassment) since these all mean “siege” in the military sense.

So we’ve gone from exploring multilingualism and madness to Irish word order for nouns and adjectives in general in the last few blogs.  The takeaways?  The prefix “il-” with just a few examples of its usage (ilteangach, ilbhéarlach, ilghuthach, ilstórach). Teanga vs. (lower-case) béarlaBuile vs. mire, máine, báiní, et al.  And, finally, the possible implications when word order is changed (Ard-Aighne vs. aighne ard.  And hmm, what happens in English if we say “Perilous Seat” instead of “Siege Perilous.”  Somehow that makes me think more of Séamas de Bond than An Rí Artúr! SGF – Róislín

Naisc do na pictiuir: (fearann poiblí) (fearann poiblí)



How to Say ‘Multilingual Madness’ in Irish (Cuid 2/2)

Posted on 06. Apr, 2014 by in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

Though this be ... buile ... mire ... máine ... báiní ... gealtacht ... díth céille ... deargbhuile ... spadhar ... tallann mhearaí ...[OR] ... dúchas, yet there's method in't. (Hamlet, Gníomh II)

“Though this be … buile … mire … máine … báiní … gealtacht … díth céille … deargbhuile … spadhar … tallann mhearaí …[OR] … dúchas, yet there’s method in’t.” (Hamlet, Gníomh II)

In the last blog, we looked at the word “multilingual” in Irish and discussed “ilteangach” and “ilbhéarlach” as the choices.  Both use the prefix “il-” (“many;” also found in words like “ilghuthach” and “ilstórach“).

Teangach,” as the core of the word “ilteangach,” is, of course, from “teanga” (tongue), and “-bhéarlach” (lenited after the prefix), is based on the more general meaning of “béarla” (i litreacha cás íochtair) as “speech.”

Today, the word “béarla” is generally capitalized (leis an  “b” scríofa le ceannlitir, mar “Béarla”) and understood as “the English language.”  Originally that distinction was created by the prefix “Saics-” which gave us “Saics-Bhéarla” for “English.”  Eventually the “Saics-” part got dropped off, leaving just “Béarla.”  Why it was “Saics-” instead of something with “Angla-” I’ve never actually found out–ábhar blag eile lá den tsaol?

At any rate, “ilteangach” seems to be the more general term in use today, so we’ll use that for the “multilingual” part of our phrase.  But how about “madness,” as in the recent Transparent Language challenge, “Multilingual Madness”?

First, let me say that none of the following words for “madness” are really exact equivalents to “anger.”  Here we’re looking more at “frenzy,” “wildness,” etc.  “Anger” is usually expressed by “fearg” (also “racht feirge,” etc.).  Admittedly, some of the distinctions are pretty fine.  Also ábhar blag eile?

Here are 10 ways to say “madness” in Irish, with some additional possibilities for translations, and some sample terms or phrases that help distinguish the meanings.  “Buile” and “mire” are quite similar, and are probably the best candidates for “madness” as we intend it here:

1. buile, madness, frenzy, mania;  “Ailliliú, puilliliú, ailliliú tá an poc ar buile!”(The puck/billy goat is mad/crazy/ in a frenzy, líne ó amhrán traidisiúnta), and more recently, “brídeach bhuile” (bridezilla)

2. mire, madness, frenzy, mania ; this can also mean “quickness” or “rapidity,” related to “mear” (quick, quick-tempered, etc.)

3. máine, madness, mania (mostly in the medical sense); cleipteamáine (kleptomania)

4. báiní, madness, wildness, frenzy, fury.  Chuaigh sé le báiní (He became furious).

5. gealtacht, madness, lunacy, panic; Chuaigh sé ar gealtacht (He went mad / He became terror-stricken).

6. díth céille, madness, foolishness, folly, lack of sense (céille, “of sense,” from “ciall“); Díth Céille Almayer is the name of the Irish translation of Joseph Conrad’s Almayer’s Folly.

7. deargbhuile, madness as in midsummer madness, stark madness, and raging madness; Bhí sé ar deargbhuile (He was raging mad).

8. spadhar, madness as in midsummer madness, temperamental fit; Tháinig spadhar air (A mad fit came over him).

9. tallann mhearaí, madness, as in midsummer madness, a fit of craziness or distraction; “N’fheadar cén tallann mhearaí a thug uirthi dul i bpáirt le Norma; go deimhin, is ionadh liom gur thoiligh sí dul isteach le haon duine (I don’t know what craziness made her ally herself with Norma; indeed, it amazes me that she was willing to go in with anyone, from “Tuairisc ó Láthair an Chatha,” gearrscéal le hÉadhmonn Mac Suibhne san iris Feasta,  On its own, “tallann” also has a wide variety of meanings, including a talent (of gold), talent (in music), a notion, and an attack.

multilingual-madness-bracket-2014-110. dúchas, madness (in animals, usually dogs, or other animals prone to rabies).  Typically, “dúchas” means “heritage” or “native place,” but it can also mean “a natural affinity” (in general) or “a natural wild state”; Chuaigh an madra le dúchas (The dog went mad).  “Madra dúchais” can mean a “mad dog,” although “confadh” is a more technical term for “rabies,” as in “madra confaidh” (mad/rabid dog).  But context is always the bottom line, as we see in the phrase ”éan confaidh,” which is understood to mean “vulture” (i.e. a bird of raging or fury, but not “rabid” as such, in the medical sense).  Of course, the more typical words for “vulture” are “bultúr” (used for most taxonomical purposes) and “badhbh” [pronounced “bive,” rhyming with “thrive” and “alive”].

Well, that’s ten words for “madness,” anyway.  There’s actually at least a good handful more, but they get farther away from our main theme, “multilingual madness.”

“Madness” in the sense of “multilingual madness” comes closest to “enthusiasm” or, in a positive sense, “frenzy.”   So which of the above words do you think best fits the buile, oops, bill.  Please stay tune for another blog or two on the topic while we make the final decision.   Moltaí ar bith ar an aistriúchán?  And remember, mar a dúirt an Bard (trí ghuth Polonius), “Though this be madness, yet there’s method in’t” (Hamlet).  SGF – Róislín