Irish Language Blog

An Bhrasaíl: Tír Aíochta Chorn an Domhain, 2014 (FIFA) Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

An Bhrasaíl

An Bhrasaíl

Hmm, just looking at those seven words of the title is probably enough to fill a blog.  We’ve got the name of the country (Brazil), the term for “host country,” and the phrase “Corn an Domhain” (World Cup) with a slight adjustment (“Corn” becomes “Chorn“) since we’re now saying, literally, ” country (of) hosting (of the) cup (of) the world.”

So, let’s start out with the country name:

An Bhrasaíl [un VRASS-eel], Brazil, lit. “the” Brazil

na Brasaíle [nuh BRASS-eel-yuh], of (the) Brazil, muintir na Brasaíle, the people of Brazil

As for the adjective, it’s “Brasaíleach,” as in (aistriúcháin thíos):

cnó Brasaíleach

mahagaine Brasaíleach

taipir Bhrasaíleach

Brasaíleach” is also the nationality, as in “Is Brasaíleach é Edson Arantes do Nascimento.”  Cé hé Edson Arantes do Nascimento?  Freagra thíos!

In zoology, many species found in Brazil are specifically “Amazonian” as in this charmer:

nathair ubhiteach Amasónach (aistriúchán thíos)

The Amazon River is “An Amasóin,” grammatically feminine, like most rivers.   “Amazon” as a woman warrior is either “Amasón” or “Amasóin,” also grammatically feminine and giving us the forms: an Amasón or an Amasóin, na hAmasóine (bogha na hAmasóine), na hAmasóiní, and na nAmasóiní (boghanna na nAmasóiní).

Most European countries have an Irish-language version of their capital city (Páras, Maidrid, Beirlín, An Róimh, srl.), but looking at an Irish map of the world, I see nothing in Irish for Brazil in terms of city names or geographical features other than the river, An Amasóin.

Of the major cities in Brazil, it seems they all retain their native Portuguese names, and, by sheer coincidence, most of these would not even raise the issue of urú (eclipsis) which would be involved in saying something like “I live in São Paulo.”  Place names that begin with S, R or M, like the majority of those shown here, cannot be eclipsed.

São Paulo, Tá mé i mo chónaí i São Paulo.  Wikipedia does offer up a translation of this city name as “San Phól,” as of March 27, 2014, but doesn’t actually use the Irish version as the city name, just as an explanation of what it means.

Rio de Janeiro.  Ciallaíonn sé “Abhainn Eanáir” mar tháinig na Portaingéaligh ar an áit ar 1 Eanáir 1502

Salvador.  Ciallaíonn sé “Slánaitheoir.”

Recife.  Ón bhfocal ‘recife’ (“sceir” i dtíreolaíocht, ach cf. “ríf” i seoltóireacht, mar fhocal iasachta)

Brasilia.  A new city, constructed primarily in the 1950s.  A search online gave me one example of this place name in an Irish sentence with eclipsis: Beidh an chéad bhabhta caibidlíochta eile ar siúl i mBrasilia ag deireadh mí na Samhna agus tá sé ráite ag an gCoimisinéir go bhfuil sé i gceist aige beart trádála a bhaint amach roimh deireadh samhradh na bliana seo chugainn. (  So, presumably one would say, Tá mé ag obair i mBrasília.

Manaus.  The letter “m” isn’t subject to urú, so no change to say, “Tá mé i mo chónaí i Manaus.”

Fortaleza.  I find no examples of this place name in an Irish sentence that would take urú or séimhiú.

So that’s Brazil, in Irish, in a nutshell.  Blaosc cnó Brasaíleach (a “Brazilian nut-shell”), of course!

The next major chunk of our phrase is “Tír Aíochta,” [tcheerzh EE-ukh-tuh], meaning “host country,” or literally, “country of hosting.”

Tír” is probably already familiar, from names like “Tír na nÓg” or “An Ísiltír,” so let’s focus on “aíocht.”  “Aíocht” is based on the word “aoi” (a guest), and is related to “teach aíochta” (a guest-house” and “aíochtach” (hospitable).

Note the tricky spelling change with the word “aoi.”  In the singular, it’s a-o-i [ee].  The plural is “aíonna,” starting with a-í-o.  Here, the “o” is really part of the plural ending, and the original “o” (of the a-o-i sequence, has disappeared.  The various other words based on “aoi” also do the same thing, becoming “ …”.  In “aíocht” and related words, the “o” is again part of the ending, not part of the original “aoi.”     It all goes back to the older spelling of “aoi” as “aoighe,” which then picked up a standard plural ending as “aoigheanna,” pronounced the same as “aíonna.”   So you can see that Irish today doesn’t have quite so many silent consonants today as it did before the spelling reform!

If “aoi” basically means “guest,” then what is the word for “host,” as such, and why don’t we use it here?  Well, these days we see “óstach” (host) a lot, and presumably we could say “óstach Chorn an Domhain,” but “tír aíochta” seems to be more the set phrase for “host country.”

There are, of course, some completely different meanings to the word “host,” and these have completely separate Irish words:

abhlann, wafer, host, altar-bread (an Abhlann Choisricthe, the Consecrated Host)

slua, host or horde, as in “an slua sí,” the fairy host; the word “slua” gives us two English words:

slew, as in “a whole slew of football fans”

slogan, from “sluagh-ghairm” (host-call, war-cry).  “Sluagh-ghairm” was sometimes also anglicized as “slughorn,” in case you ever wondered where J. K. Rowling got that professor’s name.

The last aspect of language usage in this blog’s title is the lenition (séimhiú) in the phrase “Chorn an Domhain.”  The basic phrase, as we’ve already seen, “Corn an Domhain” (World Cup).  The lenition follows the pattern as exemplified in Mícheál Ó Siadhail’s Learning Irish (Chapter 25), “geata theach an bhúistéara,” which means “(the) gate (of the) house (of) the butcher.”  The word “teach” (house) doesn’t go into the genitive (that would be “” as in “bean an tí” or “obair tí“), but it does get lenited to mark the possessive construction.

So that’s a little background on this year’s tír aíochta, An Bhrasaíl.  Maybe in a future blog we can look into the linguistic background of one of Brazil’s former major exports, mahogany.  Why mahogany?  To explain the phrase “mahogany gaspipe.”  Why explain a seemingly random phrase like “mahogany gaspipe”?  Well, it’s not random.  It’s a reasonably important term for understanding the perceived sound of the Irish language to some non-speakers.  At least according to … (freagra sa chéad bhlag eile!).   So how does that work?  Stay tuned!  SGF – Róislín

Aistriúcháin:  cnó Brasaíleach, Brazil nut, lit. Brazilian nut; mahagaine Brasaíleach, Brazilian mahogany; taipir Bhrasaíleach, Brazilian tapir

Freagra: Edson Arantes do Nascimento.  Sin “Pelé.”  The origin of the nickname “Pelé” isn’t certain.  There is a theory that it’s from the Irish word “peile,” as in “ag imirt peile,” based in the observations of an Irish priest working in Minas Gerais, where Pelé grew up.    Coincidence?  Food for thought, anyway.  And why the diacritical mark?

Aistriúchán eile:  nathair ubhiteach Amasónach, Amazon egg-eater snake

Nasc don mhapa:

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