Irish Language Blog

Cén Post Atá Agat? (What’s Your Job?) Posted by on Apr 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Many older Irish language textbooks list jobs and occupations that pertain to the time that they were written, naturally enough.  Often these don’t correspond to the types of jobs people have today – at least not to the jobs that adult students in my classes seem to have and ask me to translate, like “refrigeration mechanic” or “human resources specialist.” Also, previously many jobs had more straightforward titles, usually one word, like the ones below.  Can you figure out what these would be (freagraí thíos)?

a. feirmeoir [FERzh-im-yorzh]

b. gabha or gabha dubh [GOW-uh, that’s “gow” as in IPA /gau/ or American English “cow,” “now,” etc., not as in “row the boat”] 

c. iascaire [EE-usk-irzh-eh]

d. múinteoir [MOO-in-tchoorzh]

Next we’ll discuss some occupations that don’t seem to be mentioned as much in current teaching materials.  They probably aren’t widely practiced today, and I don’t actually recall seeing them used much in traditional textbooks either.  The wide variety of occupations connected rural life has always fascinated me.  It’s important to realize, though, that in many cases, these weren’t “jobs” as such.  In many cases, one didn’t “go to work” with set hours and clocking in, etc., but rather one worked i do ghoirt (nó níos faide siar in am, i ngoirt an tiarna talún), ar bhád, i gceárta, nó i do theach féin.  Also, traditionally, a lot of people would be involved in various types of work, depending on the season or depending on how many different activities were necessary to accomplish all the chores that needed to be done on a farm.  For example, one might be a spealadóir, a buailteoir, or a bainteoir, depending on the time of year or the tool one used.  One could be a crúdóir or úmadóir, and depending on how busy that work was, the same person might also practice other trades, including farming. 

There are fewer trades that were typically practiced by women, but there are some, such as maintín, cnáimhseach (bean chabhrach), or bean níocháin.  The word “maintín” is one of the relatively few words ending in “-ín” that is grammatically feminine.  So one would say, “an mhaintín” or “teach na maintíne.”   

Well, that’s about enough for one blog.  Next time we get to some of the newer-fangled job titles, and I’ll be working on an a-v list.  That’s a-v, since veidhleadóir is the last job, alphabetically, that I can think of, off hand.  Any thoughts for jobs that start with x, y, or z in Irish?  Duine ar bith?   

Freagraí: a. farmer, b. smith (blacksmith); to cover all the other types of “smiths” will probably be a complete blog in and of itself, am éigin sa todhchaí (that would include copper-, gold-, gun-, silver-/white-, and tin-, and perhaps even, if I’m feeling inventive, “gagsmith,” “wordsmith” and the like).  c. fisherman, d. teacher. 

Nótaí: bainteoir, reaper; buailteoir, thresher; cnáimhseach, midwife; crúdóir, farrier; maintín, mantua- or dress-maker; spealadóir, scytheman, reaper using a scythe; úmadóir, harness-maker

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