Irish Language Blog

25 Ways to Say ‘Family’ in Irish, Cuid a Trí (Pt. 3) Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Teacht le chéile teaghlaigh sa tSualainn, 1992 (grafaic: By Family assistant (Demitz files, acquired by FamSAC) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Teacht le chéile teaghlaigh sa tSualainn, 1988 (grafaic: By Family assistant (Demitz files, acquired by FamSAC) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

So far, in this mionsraith within this blog, we’ve looked at seven out of the 25 ways to say “family” in Irish that I have identified.  In today’s post, we’ll look further at words that have to do with the extended family or relatives.  And just as a little review, let’s try a little quiz on the seven words we’ve already done.  They can all mean “family,” but I’ve tried to pare this little ceistiúchán down to one meaning per word (and if you know me, that’s always a challenge!).  Freagraí thíos.

Banc focal:  clann, comhluadar, cúram, líon tí, muirín, muirear, teaghlach

  1. family
  2. children of a family
  3. household
  4. care
  5. charge
  6. social company
  7. burden

Agus anois, an tríú cuid den mhionsraith, an teaghlach sínte.  As previously, I’ve listed them with basic definitions, and several different forms of the word: plural (pl), genitive/possessive singular (gs), genitive/possessive (gpl), and in some cases, extra notes.

C. Extended Family (immediate family plus relatives)

8. muintir, extended family, kin, “folks,” the next of kin; an mhuintir (gs: sinsir na muintire), pl: na muintireacha (gpl: sinsir na muintireacha — this would imply the ancestors of more than one family group). “Muintir” can also be used in front of surnames, as in “Muintir Chadhain” (the extended family of Ó Cadhain).

This word can also mean “residents” collectively, as in “muintir na háite” or “muintir Bhostúin,” usually followed by a place name.   I doubt that the genitive plural form for either sense (kin or residents) comes up all that often in everyday conversation, but here’s a nice example, with the sense of “residents”  from the writing of Alan Titley (a mionghluais for this sentence is provided at the end of this blog post):
Níl aon chuma air go bhfuil maolú ag teacht ar iomadú na mionstát, ar fhéinriail, ar neamhspleáchas na muintireacha atá ag teacht aníos as faoi bhun na mórstátnáisiún ilchiníocha.” (An Poblachtánachas Cultúir (Mar Réiteach ar Fhadhbanna an Domhain), le hAlan Titley,

  1. gaolta, relatives, kin, family; na gaolta, (gpl: díoltas na ngaolta), relatives, kin, family. This is based on “gaol,” which itself has many meanings (relationship, a relation, a relative, etc.) and shows up in phrases like “fear gaoil” (a male relative) or “bean ghaoil” (a female relative).  I’ve listed the plural here, since it takes more than one person to constitute a family.
  1. gaolta gairide, close relations (family), close relationships; na gaolta gairide (gpl: ainmneacha na ngaolta gairide)
  1. daoine muinteartha, family members, lit. “related people,” relatives; na daoine muinteartha (gpl: ainmneacha na ndaoine muinteartha). This phrase can also be used in the singular, of course, as “duine muinteartha,” but I’m trying to limit this discussion to words that mean “family,” not individual relatives as such, so I’ve listed the phrase in the plural.
  1. cleamhnaithe, relations by marriage, in-laws; na cleamhnaithe (gpl: ainmneacha na gcleamhnaithe). This is the plural form of “cleamhnaí,” itself based on words like “cleamhnas” (relationship by marriage, or a marriage arrangement), all of which are related (as it were!) to “cliamhain” (son-in-law, aka “mac cleamhnais“) and “banchliamhain (daughter-in-law, aka “bean mic“). Another way to say “in-laws” is “gaolta cleamhnais” (lit. “relatives of marriage).

BTW, I did a Google search for the phrase “iníon chleamhnais,” since it seemed like that would be a parallel term to “mac cleamhnais.”  But in the whole wide cyberworld of Google hits, there was just one for “iníon chleamhnais.”  That may say something about the nature of relationships of in-laws, but whatever the interpretation, that must be left to another blog post.

  1. cairde gaoil, kin; na cairde gaoil (gpl: ainmneacha na gcairde gaoil). This can mean both” friends and relations” combined, but usually these are distinguished as “kith” (with “cairde gaoil” specifically meaning the “close friends”) and “kin” (gaolta, i.e. relations). So “cairde gaoil” could mean “relations” or “close friends” or both.   Hmm, suimiúil!
  1. gaolta i bhfad amach, distant relations, lit. relations “far out”; na gaolta i bhfad amach (gpl: ainmneacha na ngaolta i bhfad amach)
  1. bunadh, family, people, native inhabitants, origin, stock, root, foundation, the stock of a farm, principle, basis, essence; an bunadh (gs: i gcuideachta an bhunaidh seo). With so many meanings, this word often doesn’t actually mean “family,” but “bunadh an tí” (the people of the house) comes close. In my experience, when the form “bhunaidh” is given, it rarely refers to “family” as such, but rather to one of the other meanings, as in “an fhírinne bhunaidh (the essential/basic truth).   Rarely used in the plural, especially these days.

Other general uses of “bunadh” include “bunadh eitneach” (ethnic origin) and “bunadh ciníoch” (racial origin).

An extension of this word, originally spelled “bunadhas,” is now spelled “bunús” (origin, basis, foundation, etc.) and might be familiar from phrases like “bunús dlí” (legal basis), “bunús eolaíochta” (scientific basis), “miotas bunúis” (origin myth), “ráiteas gan bunús” (a statement without foundation), and “múirín de bhunús móna” (peat-based compost — remember the “ú” vs. the “u” for “múirín” vs. “muirín“).

Bhuel, sin cúig fhocal déag as a liosta.  Níos mó le teacht! SGF — Róislín

Mionghluais don abairt (in ord na bhfocal): “Níl aon chuma air go bhfuil maolú ag teacht ar iomadú na mionstát, ar fhéinriail, ar neamhspleáchas na muintireacha atá ag teacht aníos as faoi bhun na mórstátnáisiún ilchiníocha.”

cuma, appearance; maolú [MWEEL-oo OR MWAYL-oo], lessening; iomadú, propagation, proliferation, increasing, multiplying; mionstát, mini-state; féinriail, self-rule; neamhspleáchas [NyOW-SPLAW-khuss, with the “ow” as in “now” or “cow,” not as in “tow,” OR NyAV-SPLAW-khuss], independence; faoi bhun, under; mórstátnáisiún, large nation-state; ilchiníoch, multi-racial

Freagraí don “cheistiúchán”:

  1. family, teaghlach
  2. children of a family, clann
  3. household, líon tí
  4. care, cúram
  5. charge, muirear
  6. social company, comhluadar
  7. burden, muirín
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