Irish Language Blog

An tAsal ag Béiceach (nó ag Grágaíl … nó ag Búireach) Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Following up on the most recent blog, about hinnies hinnying or whinnying or neighing (aka ráinigh ag seitreach), I’ve looked a little further into equine noises.   “Béiceach” and “grágaíl” were mentioned last time, and here’s one more: “búireach.”

All of these words have additional meanings as well, so they are not so specifically limited to a particular animal as many English animal noises are.  No clue why that should be!

1) béiceach [BAYK-yukh] can mean “braying,” “roaring” “or “shouting”

So we could say, “Tá an t-asal ag béiceach” or “Tá an leanbh ag béiceach” (describing a mewling child)

2) búireach [BOORzh-ukh] can mean “braying,” “roaring,” or “bellowing,”

So we could say “Bhí an t-asal ag búireach” or “Bhí an tarbh ag búireach” (tarbh, bull).  “Búireach” is also used for trumpets, so we could say, “Tá na trumpaí ag búireach.”  “Trumpa” can also mean a jaw harp, though, so I doubt you’d use “búireach” for that sound, more like “streancánacht” (twanging, strumming) or “pleancadh” (twanging or “planking”).  And if you know anyone who’s a “trumpadóir” (loud-mouthed prater), they could be described as “ag búireach.”

3) grágaíl [GRAWG-eel] can mean “braying,” “cawing,” or “crowing.”

So we could say, “Bíonn an t-asal ag grágaíl” or “Bíonn an préachán ag grágaíl.”  And, needless to say, a “grágaire” does consistently be “ag grágaíl.”

Anyone have any thoughts as to whether mules and hinnies can be described as braying?  I hunted all over the Internet and found some samples like “Marshall The Mule, Braying.”  The description says that Marshall is calling for his cailín, (if we can call her that).  I also found lots of opinions about braying vs. neighing.  Some folks say the sound starts out as a neigh and ends up as half of a hee-haw.  Hmmm, I never thought I’d ever have a reason to say “half of a hee-haw” in my life!  Leath-hí-há?  Anyway, most people say that the sound is like the “hee” part; at least one said the “haw” part.  One person proposed the word “*brinny” to describe the sound, hybrid like the animal itself.  And that opens up many possibilities — do bhlaganna sa todhchaí!

Until I started this blog, I wasn’t aware that camels are also described as braying, but as I researched the topic, I found numerous citations.  And then I listened to the “Young Camel Complains” video.

Sounds like braying to me.  Seems like it should have its own specifically cameline word, though, since it’s such a unique sound.   Once, at Giza, I rode a camel, who happened to be named Lucky Strike, but I don’t remember any such sounds emanating from him.  Funny how little details like ainm an chamaill stick with you over the years — I was aon bhliain déag at the time.   “Camel,” by the way, in Irish, is quite straightforwardly “camall,” with the two main types designated as “camall Baictriach”(le dhá chruit) and “dromadaire” (le cruit amháin).

On that nóta grágach garg-ghlórach gleoránach míbhinn, (assuming you just listened to the camel video), I’ll say, “Slán go fóill” (ó Róislín)

P.S. Bhuel, actually, just like “áille,” is always “i súil an fhéachadóra,” as the saying goes, so also for “binne,” which is “i gcluas an éisteora.”  So whether “binne” or “míbhinne” is i gceist for anyone listening to the “Young Camel Complains” video remains in the ear of the listener as well.  In the course of writing this blog, I listened to lots of clips online of ainmhithe such as asail agus camaill.  But probably one of the most memorable was the recording of the gnúsachtaí grámhara ceanúla of a geac gently licking her lao, newborn.  Thar cionn!  (“What Sound Does a Yak Make?  Of Course, They Grunt”).

Gluais: ceanúil, affectionate; gnúsacht, grunt; grágaire, raucous-voiced person; grámhar, tender;  lao, calf; thar cionn, unparalleled

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