Irish Language Blog

Coronavirus Terms in Irish:  A-Z  (aisdúichiú go zónóiseach) Posted by on Jan 31, 2020 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Photo Credit:): CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #4814. Public Domain, File:Coronaviruses 004 lores.jpg Created: 1/1/75′ Téacs Gaeilge le Róislín, 2020

There are, of course, many ways to look at and discuss the ongoing coróinvíreas, but, since this is a language-learning site, how about the tried and true method of ord na haibítre (alphabetical order)?  Irish to English — and that may be a bit of a challenge since the Irish alphabet doesn’t typically have many words beginning with j, k, q, w, x, y, or z, and only a moderate number beginning with h or v.  So we’ll see if we can actually come up a full 26 for the alphabet, or if some letters will have to remain as “bearnaí” (gaps).  But I don’t want to leave out “Wuhan,” so let’s see.

A reminder for all, the traditional Irish alphabet is as follows: a b c d e f g h i l m n o p r s t u.  But since we now have words like jíp (jeep), vástchóta (waistcoat), and (zoo), it seems a bit of a moot point.  At any rate, here’s one go-round, from A to Z in Irish.  And I approached this project knowing I could at least do “z” because of the word “zónóiseach.”  The “A,” “B,” and “C” part should be straightforward enough, and as for the middle of the alphabet, feicimis.  So, ar aghaidh linn:

aisdúichiú, repatriation (cf. dúiche, territory; dúchas, heritage)

baile, can mean “town” (as in “Bally”) but can also mean “home” as in “sa bhaile” (at home), and its variant “sa mbaile.”  Other related phrases are “abhaile” (homeward and “home” in the adverbial sense) and its variant “chun a’ bhaile” and “as baile” (from home, used to say one is “not at home”)

casachtach, coughing, and of course, coróinvíreas itself

domhanda, global, world (adjective) as in Eagraíocht Dhomhanda Sláinte (World Health Organization, WHO), which I’ve also seen written as Eagraíocht Shláinte an Domhain (literally “Organization of Health of the World”)

éigeandáil, emergency

fiabhras, fever

galar, sickness, disease

Hubei, as in Cúige Hubei (Hubei Province) in China, the province where Wuhan, the airmheán (epicenter) of this novel coronavirus is located

íomhaithe (ceamara íomhaithe teirmeach), images, as in “thermal imaging camera,” literally, thermal camera of images”)

And for good measure, I’ll add another “i” word here.  I thought I might end up using Yangtze (the river that runs through the city of Wuhan) for my “y” entry.  But lo and behold, this river name has been Gaelicized, and begins with the letter “i” in Irish”

an Iaing-tsí, the Yangtze (the river that flows through Wuhan_

jab, meaning “job” and pronounced like English “job,” not like “to jab someone with your elbow.”  What we’re all wondering about these days.  Can we do “ár jabanna” (our jobs) from home?

And another good “j” word, one I couldn’t resist, even though “jab” (job) is probably more practical:

Jeidíochas, Jediism  perhaps a dose of this will help us get through these troubling times

OK, “k” — always a challenge when going through the full roman alphabet with Irish vocabulary.  Almost nothing begins with “k” in Irish since the “k” sound is taken care of by “c” in Irish (Kathleen / Caitlín; kangaroo / cangarú; Korea / An Chóiré, Kenya / An Chéinia, srl.), but I finally came up with this:

km, the abbreviation in Irish for ciliméadar, which is relevant to an coróinvíreas because “.001 km” is the very minimum recommended distance we stay apart from each other.  “.002 km” is actually much better.  OK, OK, of course it would be simpler just to say “a meter” or “two meters” instead of “a thousandth of a kilometer” or “two thousandths of a kilometer,” but like I said above, “k” is a bit of a stretch to begin with in Irish, anyway.

And it is kind of fun to realize that “km” in Irish is probably one of the very few abbreviations anywhere, i dteanga ar bith, where the abbreviation doesn’t begin with the same letter as the word itself.  And how does that work?  The Irish for “kilometer (kilometre)” is “ciliméadar” and if we abbreviated that as “cm” it would look like the abbreviation for “ceintiméadar” in Irish and in English and many other languages, for that matter.  For those in the US, it’s probably easier to think of all of this as “trí troithe” (three feet) or, better yet, “sé troithe” (six feet).

leath, spread (verb) and  leathadh, spreading, as in “Leathann sé go tapaidh ó dhuine go duine” (It spreads quickly from person to person)

monatóireacht, monitoring

nigh, wash (verb), as in nigh do lámha (wash your hands)

ordú dianghlasála, lockdown

polláire, nostril, also means “button-hole” by the way

q — this is even more of a stretch than the letter “k,” because almost nothing begins with “q” in Irish (names like Quinn and Quigley actually being “Ó Cuinn” and “Ó Coigligh” in their Irish spelling and borrowed “q” words also turning into “c” words: quart / cárt, Quadragesima i.e. Lent / Carghas ).  With some trepidation, I suggest the following:

quinín, quinine, since it’s related to the drug “Chloroquine,” which was suggested as an antidote, but which seems very questionable.  Furthermore, from an alphabetization perspective, “quinín” isn’t a great example these days since the spelling has been updated to “cuinín,” following the Irish “q” to “c” pattern.

A query!  A quandary! A question! – – Anyone have a better suggestion for the letter “q” in our list?

ráig, outbreak, as in ráig den choróinvíreas, an outbreak of the coronavirus

an tSín, na Síne, China, of China.  One trick thing about alphabetizing in Irish is the use of prefixed letters, like the “t” here.  In theory, “Sín” is the core of this word, but it’s almost never used since it gets the “t” prefix as the subject of the sentence (Tá an tSín san Áise) and would get the “-e” ending when showing possession, as in  “muintir na Síne” (the residents of China).

teocht, temperature, warmth (cf. te, warm, níos teo, warmer, is teo, warmest and sometimes “warmer”)

urlabhraí, spokesperson; sampla: urlabhraí an AE, the spokesperson of the European Union

víreas, virus — pretty self-explanatory

Wuhan, the Chinese city where this first came to global attention

x — well, I haven’t really heard of x-ghathanna being used to detect the coronavirus, and x-gha (x-ray) is one of my old standby Irish words for alphabetical lists needing an “x-word.”  So that one’s out, I think.  Some other typical x-words, out of the dornáinín that exist in Irish, are “xileafón,” not relevant here, except perhaps for music therapy (which I think is wonderful, by the way) and x-chrómasóm, but I’m not sure that genetic research is the clue to defeating the novel coronavirus.  A eipidéimeolaithe, please feel to chime in on that, since, to reverse quote Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy and to Gaelicize his famous catchphrase, “I’m a linguist, not a doctor” (Ní dochtúir mé ach teangeolaí).

y – again, not much choice for the letter “y,” especially since “The Yangtze” is out now, as noted above, since the Irish for it is “An Iaing-tsí.”  We could mention  Yokohama, the Japanese city where the cruise ship with coronavirus patients was docked, and the “yuan,” the Chinese unit of currency, neither of which change for Irish spelling (Tokyo does, though, btw: Tóiceo, note: no “k” and no “y”)

I wonder if there’s some sort of term like “éifeacht yóyó” that might describe the disease bouncing back, with repatriation happening all around the world.  I can testify that “yóyó” is the official Irish for “yoyo.”  That would give us a “y-word.”

zónóiseach, zoonotic, a term which, if we didn’t know it before this coronavirus outbreak, now we do know what the term now (transmissible from animals to humans).  I ‘m not sure if it works in reverse (transmissible from human to animal).   If anyone knows, it would be great if you could let us know and if there’s an Irish term specifically for that.

This glossary could really be hundreds of words long, so maybe some future blogs will return to this topic.  At some point, we’ll return to or rotate in some other blogs series that had been started.   Hope this was helpful  – Róislín

Foilsithe tar éis an bhlag seo:

Irish Words for Sneezing and Coughing — Sraothartach agus Casachtach (COVID-19 terms)Posted by  on Feb 18, 2020 in Irish Language

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