Irish Language Blog

‘Caitín’ + ‘Caillte’ + ‘Caoineadh’ = Cén Rud? Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

De ghnáth éistim le ceol traidisiúnta níos minice ná popcheol ach bhí an scéal seo rótharraingteach le bheith “ag imeacht uaidh.”  Right, well, that’s not exactly the phrase, “to walk away,” but it’s a close Irish equivalent.  For all the possible words in Irish to say “away” (ábhar blag eile?), none of them is an exact match for “I just walked away” as in, ‘sea, amhrán nua Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball.”

But what really caught my eye was this article, which explains the technology behind the imagery used in Miley’s November 25th American Music Awards performance.  An bhfaca tú é?  The article includes an image of the original cat graphic, with a mundane background and “cuteness” factor quotation.  An bhfaca tú an cat gleoite sula bhfaca tú mar chúlra do amhrán Miley é?  And then a discussion of cuteness vs. creepiness.  Can “creepy” also be “cute”?  Can’t say I ever pondered that exact issue before.

The performance was noteworthy in its own right, but the alliterative possibilities connected to it were, for me,  “reoán ar an gcíste.”  Enough to warm “caisíní mo chroí” as a language blogger.  Seo na focail ó theideal an bhlag seo:

caitín [KAHTCH-een], little cat; the usual word for “kitten” is “piscín” [PISH-keen], with “pisín” [PISH-een] and “puisín” [PwISH-een] as variations.  But as you might have guessed, I chose “caitín” because it gives us the possibilities for “beagán uama” (a little alliteration)

caillte [KYLE-tchuh], lost, from the verb “caill” (lose).   The back-story as to how an caitín ended up sa spás amuigh is left up to the viewer’s imagination.  Maybe an exile from “Cats in Space” (, in which “… A feline starship embarks on a mission to boldly go where no cat has gone before …”.

caoineadh [KEEN-yuh OR KEEN-uh], crying, weeping, lamenting, keening (an English word which comes from this Irish word)

So we could put these together in a sentence along the lines of

Tá an caitín caillte ag caoineadh.  The little cat is crying.

Any ideas on why?  If so, please send them in.  You could start out a sentence with, “Tá an caitín caillte ag caoineadh mar … . ” (The little lost cat is crying because …).

Of course, the cat isn’t crying during the entire video, but when it does, it cries diamonds, so there’s go to be something intense going on there.

As for the Irish for “creepy,” as in “creepy cat from outer space,” that’s a little food for thought.  “Snámhach” vaguely works, and it does mean “creepy,” but more in that sense of something that is “ag snámh ar an talamh” (creeping along the ground; “snámh” typically means “to swim” as in the water, but it can also mean to creep, crawl, or glide, depending on context).

A “creepy” feeling isn’t typically expressed with an adjective in Irish (so we don’t really say “creepy cat”) but we could adapt one of the following:

Bhí drithlíní faitís liom, lit. Twinges of fear were with me (for a creepy feeling that really makes you afraid)

Or a variation, a little more intense:

Bhí drithlíní (eagla) ag dul tríom, lit. Twinges (of fear)  were going through me. (for a “creepy-crawly” feeling)

Chuir sé cáithníní ag rith ar mo chraiceann, It made my flesh creep, lit. It put small flakes (i.e. goose-flesh or goose-bumps)  running on my skin.

Some other choices, which I think are a little strong for an caitín, which after all, was selected for “a gleoiteacht” (if it’s a female kitten; “a ghleoiteacht” if it’s male)”

lionraitheach – creepy, terrifying

uaigneach – lonely, haunted, can describe a “creepy” place

Hmm, maybe I should remember some of those ideas for “áthchúrsáil” next “Oíche Shamhna.”  Looking forward to your back-stories, if you’re so inspired.  SGF–Róislín

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