Irish Language Blog

Aoine Dhubh, Aoine an Bhreacáin, agus Cibearluan! (Téarmaí Siopadóireachta Iar-Lá an Altaithe) Posted by on Nov 30, 2009 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Two new terms caught my attention this post-Thanksgiving shopping season, giving us now a trio of shopping catchphrases designed to encourage all of us to spend more money, be it in the boscaí móra, (big boxes), siopaí miondíoltóirí neamhspleácha (shops of independent retailers), or ar líne (online).  Aoine Dhubh” has been around for a few decades, but “Aoine an Bhreacáin” and “Cibearluan” are quite recent. 


Aoine Dhubh” (Black Friday) is the oldest of these terms, dating back at least to the seascaidí (1960s).  Although the phrase may give an imprisean gruama (gloomy impression), it actually reflects the optimism of American merchants that this particular day will turn a gcaillteanais (their losses) into a mbrabúis (their profits) and their bookkeeping ink will change from dearg (red) to dubh (black).  The term does have a sort of éifeacht fhritorthúil (counterproductive effect) though, I think, since it may also conjure up images of sluaite móra (big crowds), línte fada (long lines), tranglálacha tráchta (traffic snarls), and táinrití daoine (stampedes of people).  The Friday after American Thanksgiving, though not a saoire Fheidearálach (Federal holiday), is a holiday for most schools and universities and many businesses (except retail).  It is the day of huge lascainí réamh-Nollaig (pre-Christmas discounts) and a day on which all are encouraged to shop.  Admittedly, there’s not much precedence for this phrase in Irish, since an American holiday is involved, but it’s a coincheap suimiúil (interesting concept), at any rate.


The two more recent developments are Aoine an Bhreacáin and Cibearluan, but, given the length of this blog plus its notes, it seems these should wait for an “aguisín” to this blog, to be sent shortly. 


Nótaí: iar- [EE-ur] after-, post-, ex-, as in iar-uachtarán, past-president; fritorthúil [FRIH-TOR-hoo-il] counter-productive, with fhritorthúil [RIH-TOR-hoo-il] as a feminine form; trangáil, a snarl, clutter, or tangle, not a dog’s snarl, which is drannadh; feidearálach gets a feminine form here, fheidearálach [EDJ-ar-awl-ukh]; coincheap [KIN-hyep]; breacán, plaid, tartan.


Táinrith is an interesting term. “Táin” means “driving cattle” or the cattle themselves.  It can also be an expedition for plunder or the plunder itself.  Rith” means “running.”  So, literally, the Irish word for “stampede” is “cattle-running,” an interesting comparison to the English “stampede,” which comes from Mexican Spanish, estampida, itself related to estampar (to press), German stampfen (to stamp or press), and English “stamp.”   


Slua, host, crowd, pl. sluaite.  Incidentally, this is the origin of the word “slew,” widely used in America for a large group of people.  One colleague of mine, a native Gàidhlig speaker from Lewis, said she hadn’t heard this used in English until she came to North America.  She recognized it right away, since Scottish Gaelic has the same basic word, spelled “sluagh.”  Apparently “slua” entered American English via Irish emigration to North America. 

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  1. Siobhan Hall:

    In Ireland, the traditional day for the big Christmas shopping expedition was the 8th Dec, a religious feastday and for a long time, a day off school. It was tradionally the day that the Culchies (countryfolk) went up to Dublin to do their Christmas shopping. With an increasing secularisation of Ireland, the holy day, whilst still a Church holiday, does not necessarily mean a day off, and anyway with the increasing commercialisation of Christmas, open season on Christmas shopping seems to start as soon as Hallowe’en is over.

  2. Róislín:

    A Shiobhán,
    Go raibh maith agat as scríobh. Bhí do nóta suimiúil. Tá an ceart agat faoin “séasúr oscailte” ag tosú tar éis Oíche Shamhna. Agus suimiúil freisin faoin choincheap “day off.” Bhuel, ádh mór le do shiopadóireacht féin! I Meiriceá d’fhéadfá tosú arís i Mí Iúil mar bíonn cleas margaíochta eile ann – Nollaig in Iúil! – Róislín

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