Irish Language Blog

Cineálacha Béar agus Cineálacha Beár (Irish Words for Types of Bears and Types of Bars) (Cuid/Pt. 1/2) Posted by on Feb 28, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)
Created: 18 April 2008; By Mike Bender/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Téacs Gaeilge le Róislín, 2018

We recently looked at “Lá Idirnáisiúnta na mBéar Bán” (International Polar Bear Day) celebrated every year on February 27th, and I hope that thinking about that day gave you some paws (ermm, oops, should be “pause”  – groan / duck) for thought about what is happening to “gnáthóg na mbéar bán” (the habitat of the polar bears).  A link to the blogpost on International Polar Bear Day is “thíos.”

As a follow-up, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the other types of bears in the world, whether threatened with extinction or not.  Let’s look out for whether the translations are exactly literal, or whether other characteristics come into play.  As you might recall from the most recent blogpost (nasc thíos), “béar bán” means “polar bear” in Irish.  So it doesn’t include the word “polar” in it — that is simply “polach.”  “Béar bán” literally means “white bear,” and actually, in a few other languages I checked out, “white” is used, not “polar” or there is a choice of “white” or “polar” or “northern” or some such word.

After we go over the cineálacha béar, then, since it’s an irresistible combo, let’s look at cineálacha beár, various types of bars.  Then perhaps we can imagine na béir ag na beáir (the bears at the bars), probably in Cuid a Dó or Part 2 of this blogpost.

So here are some types of bears, besides the “béar bán” mentioned above:

American black bear, béar dubh Meiriceánach

Asiatic black bear. béar dubh Áiseach

brown bear,  béar donn

grizzly bear, ollbhéar Meiriceánach (lit. “great/large American bear”).  Some slightly older sources I looked at gave “béar liath,” lit. gray bear (OK, grey, más fearr leat), literally the idea of a grizzled or gray-haired bear.  But the newer sources all seem to say “ollbhéar Meiriceánach”  – quite different from actually saying “grizzly”!

Himalayan black bear, béar dubh Himiléach

Himalayan brown bear, béar donn Himiléach, which apparently is also called the “Himalayan Red Bear.”

sloth bear, béar spadánta

spectacled bear (aka  Andean bear), béar spéaclach

sun bear, béar gréine

As you can see, most of the phrases are quite literal, “grizzly” being the main exception.

There are a few animal called bears, or sometimes called bears anyway, that aren’t really bears.  Their Irish names do not suggest any connections to bears.

antbear (i.e. aardvark or earth-pig), arcán talún

koala (sometimes called “koala bear,” though it isn’t a bear), cóála

lesser panda (aka red cat-bear OR red panda), panda rua

And then there’s the so-called “woolly bear,” which isn’t even a mammal.  It’s an insect, called “speig neanta” in Irish.

Regarding the “water bear” (aka more formally “tardigrade,” meaning “slow stepper”), its Irish name does include “bear,” since it is called a “béar uisce” (from the German “Wasserbär“).  It is a “miocrainmhí,” about .5 mm long, not like the one on Star Trek Discovery!

Some day, we’ll look at some extended uses of “bear” such as “bear-garden” or “bear market,” but for now, let’s turn to the second part of today’s post, cineálacha beár (types of bars).  Here are a few:

coffee bar, beár caife

dairy bar, beár déirí

noodle bar, beár núdal

salad bar, beár sailéad

sandwich bar, beár ceapairí

snack bar, beár sneaiceanna

sushi bar, beár sushi

wine bar, beár fíona

So here’s the final thought for the day: Cén cineál beáir ab fhearr le béar?   Do bharúil?  SGF  – Róislín

Nóta: BTW, there’s an alternate plural for “beár” — in addition to the standard “beáir,” I’ve seen “beáranna.”

NascLá Idirnáisiúnta na mBéar Bán (International Polar Bear Day): 27 Feabhra — February 27th Posted by  on Feb 27, 2018 in Irish Language

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