Cineálacha Rothaí – Including the “Scottie Pinwheel” Posted by róislín on Jan 26, 2013 in Irish Language
When I first heard about the Scottie Pinwheel (‘sea, sé bhrocaire Albanacha ag siúl timpeall ar mhol, agus cad é atá sa mhol sin ach “babhla bainne gabhair,” a bowl of goat’s milk), I thought “Now there’s a great phrase to translate.” Perhaps you’ve seen the video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDa0z0gEvI4
But, of course, there are lots of other types of wheels that we might talk about, and which might sometimes be more practical, as vocabulary goes, than pinwheels. So first, we’ll look at the word for “wheel” itself, a few other types of wheels and wheel terms, then pinwheels, and finally, as the pièce de résistance, we’ll check out the components of the phrase “Scottie Pinwheel.”
wheel: roth [say “ruh;” the “t” is silent, so it’s not like the surname “Roth;” the vowel sound is “uh,” as in English “run,” not like the “uh” in German “Huhn,” etc.]
the wheel: an roth
of a wheel: rotha [RUH-huh]: galtán rotha, a paddle steamer (steamboat)
of the wheel: an rotha
wheels: rothaí [RUH-hee]: béilí ar rothaí, meals on wheels
the wheels: na rothaí
of the wheels: na rothaí
And here are a few specific types:
roth deiridh [ruh DJERzh-ee], back wheel
roth tosaigh [ruh TUSS-ee], front wheel
roth stiúrtha [ruh SHTOOR-huh], steering wheel
roth Chaitríona [ruh KHATCH-ree-uh-nuh], Catherine wheel (in fireworks)
And a few phrases or terms using “wheel”
barra rotha, a wheelbarrow (“rotha” presumably since the item has one wheel)
cathaoir rothaí, a wheelchair (“rothaí” because the chair has two wheels)
rothadóir, a wheelwright (if anyone still practices that occupation)
A few words that have “wheel” in English, but not in Irish:
róitifear, a wheel animalcule or rotifer (I know, not much in daily use, but perhaps it could come in handy in a barfight or an epithet-hurling match).
tuirne, a spinning-wheel (apparently an earlier form was “roth tuirne” but that’s not common today)
And the metaphorical wheels:
a bheith ar rothaí an tsaoil [uh veh erzh RUH-hee un teel], to be on top of the world, lit. to be on the wheels of life/of the world/of destiny
roth mór an tsaoil [ruh mor un teel; the “s” is silent], the wheel of destiny/of life. The phrase was also immortalized in Micí Mac Gabhann’s classic 1959 memoir, Rotha Mór an tSaoil, which, incidentally uses “rotha” as a variant form of “roth” as the subject, singular in number. Mac Gabhann’s story was made into a film in 1998 and the trailer for it can be seen on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVQTbtZNGEU)
And at least one metaphorical situation using “wheel” in English but not in Irish, as in:
modhanna casta an rialtais [KAHSS-tuh un REE-ul-tish], the “wheels” of government, lit. the “complicated ways” of the government, politicians being known for being strange “bed-felloes.” <och drochimeartas focal>
And back to our main topic, “pinwheel” is “roth pionnaí,” straightforward enough, meaning “wheel of pins.” I’m actually a little puzzled as to why the plural (pins) is used, instead of the singular (pin), since each pinwheel has just one pin, but so be it. By the way, “pionna” means “pin,” but it isn’t the most common or basic word for “pin” in Irish; that would be “biorán” and a full discussion of the difference would fill blag eile, so will have to wait for am eile. But in a nutshell, “pionna” can also mean a “peg,” whereas “biorán” is also used for terms like “safety pin” (biorán dúnta) and “hat-pin” (biorán hata).
And now the Scotties! “Scottish Terrier” is “brocaire Albanach“(plural: “brocairí Albanacha“). To combine this with “roth pionnaí,” we reverse the English sequence, to suit Irish word order (“Pinwheel of Scotties” instead of “Scottie Pinwheel”), giving us: “roth pionnaí brocairí Albanacha.” To make it “The Scottie Pinwheel,” we add “na” and eclipsis: “Roth Pionnaí na mBrocairí Albanacha” (The Scottie Pinwheel). Of course, that could mean that the Scotties own a pinwheel (unlikely, in reality). The Irish name for the video could be a little less figurative, perhaps something more like “Brocairí Albanacha ag Rothlú thart ar a mBabhla” (Scottish Terriers rotating around their bowl) or “Brocairí Albanacha ar Casadh” (spinning Scotties). “Spinning Scotties,” in English, is, of course, ambiguous, but níl neart agam ar éiginnteachtaí an Bhéarla! I can just imagine na Brocairí Albanacha ag a gcuid tuirní (“at their spinning wheels” — works well for a country known for its home-spun goods!).
Or perhaps we could have “Brocairí Albanacha Mar Spócaí Rotha” (Scotties as spokes in a wheel), which, for dramatic effect could be extended to “Brocairí Albanacha Mar Spócaí i Rotha Mór an tSaoil.” Hmm, that might even lead us to a discussion of the parts of a wheel in general, primarily the mol (hub), the spócaí (spokes), and the fiolla (felloe). Bhuel, sin ábhar blag eile!
Although “goat’s milk” isn’t part of the video’s title, it’s worth a gander as a nice example of Irish word order and possessive forms: “babhla bainne gabhair” (a bowl of milk of goat, with “gabhar” in the genitive case). Recognize “gabhar“? It’s closely related to Welsh “gafr,” directly related to Scottish Gaelic “gabhar,” and a “cousin” of “goat” in various Romance languages (chèvre, cabra, caper, etc.).
Dare I say I was bowled over by the róghleoiteacht of the físeán? Agus, hmm, cén Ghaeilge a bheadh air sin mar chor cainte? Á, ‘sea, “baineadh biongadh asam” ( I was bowled over, staggered, etc.)
The original “Scottie Pinwheel” video appears to have been “postáilte” by “bggann.” Go raibh maith agat, a bggann, as ábhar an bhlag seo! SGF, Róislín
Gluais: brocaire, terrier, lit. “badgerer” (i.e. badger-dog); éiginnteacht, ambiguity; físeán mearscaipthe, viral video, lit. quickly-distributed video (no reference to “viral” or “virus” in the phrase); gleoite, pretty or “cute” in the US sense (i.e. like kittens and puppies, not as in “acuteness”), which paves the way for my new Irish coinage, “róghleoiteacht” (“toocuteness”); imeartas focal, pun; mol, hub
Nóta: please don’t confuse a “roth pionnaí” with a “pionna rotha” — the latter would be a “linchpin,” literally a “wheel-pin” or “pin of wheel,” reflecting the linchpin’s role in fastening a wheel to a “crann fearsaide” (axle-tree). “Ord na bhfocal” rules!
Nasc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDa0z0gEvI4 (The Scottie Pinwheel, posted by bggan, Jan. 25, 2013)
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