Irish Language Blog

An Dara Grúpa d’Fhocail: Curiosity, Passion, Interest, Heritage, Family (i nGaeilge) Posted by on Sep 28, 2013 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In the previous blog we looked at the Irish for the five most prominent terms in this speech balloon.  Seo iad: Eolas, Grá, Cultúr, Spraoi, Cairde.   An cuimhin leat an Béarla atá orthu?  The translations back into English are below (má tá cuidiú de dhíth ort).

1187077_10151858903124295_540860600_n transparent language speech balloon

Anois, an chéad ghrúpa eile d’fhocail.  But wait, first let’s look at that phrase and its pronunciation.

anois [uh-NISH], now

an chéad (rud) eile [un hyayd (rud) ELL-yuh], the next thing, lit. the first (chéad) other (eile) thing (rud)

ghrúpa [γROOP-uh], lenited form of “grúpa” (group); for more on the pronunciation of the “gh,” see “Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives or type the term “voiced velar fricative” in the search box on any page of the Transparent Language Irish blog (

d’fhocail [DUK-il], of words, from “de + f(h)ocail,” with “de” (of) causing “focail” to change to “fhocail,” with a silent “fh-“.

That also explains teideal an bhlag seo, with the one difference being that the new title is the “dara grúpa” (second group), so the voiced velar fricative (the “gh-” sound, IPA /γ/) goes away, and we’re back to normal “g”.

And what of our “dara grúpa” (or, depending on your canúint, “darna grúpa” or “tarna grúpa“)?  Here are the ones I read as being the next five biggest reasons why people learn another language: Curiosity, Passion, Interest, Heritage, Family.

I may soon start wondering what I have undertaken here, since there are at least seven words for “family” in Irish, but I’ll take that “tarbh” by the “adharca,” (to half-translate, half-hybridize an English expression), and we’ll see what happens.  OK, “adharca,” you might be chuckling, well, no animal husbandry jokes here, please.*  Anyway …

1. CURIOSITY: In my experience, “fiosracht” is the most common word for this, though “caidéis” can also be used.

2. PASSION: This is another tricky one, with at least seven possibilities for different contexts, but here I’d say the closest equivalent to the English would work, “paisean.”  Other possibilities (for the curious) include “páis” (in the religious sense), ainmhian, dúil d’anama (lit. the desire of your soul), fearg (usually means “anger”), grá d’anama (the love of your soul), and “racht” as in “racht goil” (a passion of tears).

3. INTEREST: Almost a draw, but I’ll go with “suim” [sim, as in “simple”] since I use it more often than “spéis” [spaysh]; both mean “interest in a topic or subject.”  For “interest” as in “money earned,” we’d be looking at a completely different set of words, like “biseach,” “ús” [ooss, not like “us” or “ooze”], and even the harshly evocative word “gaimbín.”**

4. HERITAGE: Choosing between two possibilities, I’ll go with “dúchas” [DOO-khuss], which I’d say is more widely used than the next contender, “oidhreacht.”   Among other uses, “Dúchas” is the name of the e-newsletter of the Irish American Cultural Institute (; one can sign up for it “saor in aisce” (for free) at their website.   We do see a lot of “ionaid oidhreachta” throughout Ireland, though, so it’s a close call between “dúchas” and “oidhreacht.”

5. FAMILY:  This is the “ceist 64,000 dollar.”  I’m going with “muintir” for current purposes, since it means “extended family” or one’s “kin” (but not your “kith,” which might be ábhar blag eile).  The other possibilities include the following, each with one additional meaning (most have more beyond what will fit here): teaghlach (household), clann (children), cúram (responsibility), muirín (burden), muirear (charge, often in the financial sense, but sometimes in the sense of “burden” or “responsibility”), and líon tí (household).

Bhuel, sin cúig fhocal eile don bhalún cainte.  Níos mó le teacht. – Róislín

Aistriúchán (an chéad ghrúpa d’fhocail): Knowledge, Love, Culture, Fun, Friends

*After all, I did say “adharca,” which is plural, so common sense and logic tell us how to interpret that phrase, two horns per bull, presumably.

** Why “harshly”?  If you haven’t encountered this word before, I’d suggest checking out Bram Stoker’s “The Gombeen Man,” originally a chapter in his The Snake’s Pass, but often presented as a short story.  Is féidir leat éisteacht leis ag ($2.95 nó saor le ballráiocht

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