Irish Language Blog

Beagán Eile de Bhéarla na hAstráile (A Little More Aussie English, translated into Irish) Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

An Astráil

An Astráil

Given our recent “turas focal go dtí an Astráil,” I thought it would be interesting to add a few more basics, going beyond just the “-ie” ending ones we just looked at, like “barbie” and “tallie” (nasc thíos).  These will include the word “Australia” itself and the Irish versions of some iconic Aussie words, with some blanks to fill in for the letters that make them fit the Irish spelling system.

First, “Australia” itself.  The place name, like many other country names, includes the word “the” (comparable to “La France,” lit. “the” France).  In English, the use of the word “the” with country names is mostly limited to those which have adjectives built into the name or are plural (the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, the Bahamas).  The word “the” also shows up in some mostly outdated place names which are considered provincial (“the Punjab,” as it might have been called during the British Raj, just “Punjab” now).  The amount of discussion over “Ukraine” vs. “the Ukraine” in English illustrates the point nicely.  In Irish, “the” vs. no “the” is not an issue, the country is called “An Úcráin,” including “the,” as is done with many other place names, big and small, (An Danmhairg, An Fhrainc, an Rúis, an tSín).  Of course, there are exceptions, but those will have to be ábhar blag eile.

An Astráil [un AHS-trawil], (the) Australia The possessive form picks up a few more letters and “an” (the) changes to “na” for (of) “the”:

Príomh-Aire na hAstráile

fásra agus ainmhithe na hAstráile

aeráid na hAstráile The final “e” is because the word is 2nd-declension, feminine, and the prefixed “h” is because “Astráile” begins with a vowel.

Here are a few more phrases:

go dtí an Astráil, to Australia

chun na hAstráile, another way to say “to Australia,” using an tuiseal ginideach

san Astráil, in Australia (with the “an” absorbed into the preposition, i.e. the last two letters of s-a-n).  So, that more or less covers the country name itself.

And now for some characteristic words, most but not all from the Aboriginal languages.  Freagraí agus aistriúcháin thíos.

Bhí an t-éan seo ag an mbeárbaicíú!  Cén sórt éin é?  Freagra thíos (faoi na freagraí eile)

Bhí an t-éan seo ag an mbeárbaicíú! Cén sórt éin é? Freagra thíos (faoi na freagraí eile)

1. did __ rid __ú

2.  é __ mú

3. __ úcabarra

4.  di __ ngó

5. valba__  (and the plural is: valba__the)

6. e __ claip

7. __ angarú

8. __ ombat

9. s __ arra

10. budr __ gár

Hope you enjoyed that!  SGF  — Róislín

NascCuir Gaeilge ar Fhocail ‘Strine’ (Focail Astrálacha mar ‘brumby,’ srl.) Posted on 25. May, 2014 by in Irish Language (

Freagraí: 1) didiridiú, didgeridoo (NB: the slender “d” in Irish is like the “j” sound often represented in English by “dj” as in “fudge” or “edge”; also note the vowel harmony)

2) éamú, emu (NB: vowel harmony, so a “broad” vowel,” like “a” is needed before the “-mú”)

3) cúcabarra, kookaburra (NB: the letter “k” is almost completely absent from Irish, with “km,” the abbreviation, being one of the rare exceptions–“kilometer” itself is spelled with a “c,” as in “ciliméadar“)

4) diongó, dingo (NB: vowel harmony)

5) valbaí, wallaby (NB: remember there is a slight “uh” sound between the “l” and the “b” in Irish, so it matches the middle “-a-” of “wallaby (NB: initial “w” is very very rare in Irish; “v” isn’t all that widely represented either, but it does show up more than “w,” as in “veist,” “vóta,” and “vacsaín“).  Plural: valbaithe.

6) eoclaip, eucalyptus (NB: “eu” is almost unknown in Irish, with most “eu-” prefixes changing to “eo” (as in “eoihéimireachas” or “Eocairist“)

7) cangarú, kangaroo (NB: “k” almost always becomes “c” in Irish, as noted above; also, no double vowels, like English “oo” or “ee,” in Irish)

8) vombat, wombat (NB: “w” almost non-existent in Irish, as noted above)

9) searra, jarrah, an Aboriginal word for eucalyptus, also used in Australian English (NB: “j” is almost unknown in the Irish language, although there is a solid handful of exceptions, mostly recent, like júdó and jíp,  but most other “j” words change to “s” or “i” like seacál / jackal, seasmain / jasmine, and iaguar / jaguar, and Iúpatar / Jupiter

10) budragár, budgerigar (NB: vowel harmony, so we can’t have “u-CONSONANT-e” or “i-CONSONANT-a).  The vowels “u” and “a” are “broad” so the next vowel after the consonant also has to be broad (a, o, u).  The vowels “i” and “e” are ‘slender” and have to be used in combination with other slender vowels.  We see this constantly in Irish spelling, but it may be so fundamental that we don’t pay much attention to it until we’re faced with a challenging word to spell.  Examples with “broad” vowel harmony include “leabhar,” arán,” and “cangarú,” and some examples with slender vowel harmony include “litir,” “Meiriceá,” and “didiridiú.”

Freagra (an t-éan sa phictiúr): cúcabarra gáiriteach (laughing kookaburra) (, fearann poiblí, le lander777)

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  1. Paddy:

    Utopia was formed from two ancient Greek words, ou meaning not and topos. It is not derived from eu-. Didgeridoo is now accepted by the OED as being derived from two Irish words: dúdaire dubh. It was formerly thought to be from an indigenous language, but this is not so…

    Most useful material, thank you. My “Greenspeak: Ireland in her own Words” might interest you. PS, Dublin

    • róislín:

      @Paddy An-suimiúil, go raibh maith agat. Bhain me an sampla “Útóipe” den alt mar ní bhaineann sé leis an sampla eile.

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