Irish Language Blog

Cúig Fhrása (Béarla) Gan Mhaith (De Réir Fhionntán Uí Thuathail aka Fintan O’Toole) (Cuid 3/4) Posted by on Jan 11, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

So, we’ve now covered the first three words i liosta Fhionntán Uí Thuathail a d’fhoilsigh sé ina alt “Wasting Good Words on a Terrible Situation” ag

In case you’re just joining this dúshlán focal midstream, that means we’ve matched “austerity” with “déine” and “gátar,” “bailout” with “tarrtháil,” and “difficult” with “deacair.”  Admittedly, there are lots of other possibilities for “difficult,” but as discussed in the previous blog, they tend to have more specific contexts or to be far more limited in their usage ( ).

If you haven’t already read O’Toole’s article, he discusses five words or phrases that he thinks should be outlawed in 2012, saying that they distort or conceal reality or are otherwise overused, inefficient, or simply useless.  Ar ndóigh, ní ar na focail iad féin atá an locht, ach ar  na polaiteoirí (agus na hiriseoirí) a úsáideann ad nauseam iad.  I’ll repeat the SPOILER ALERT though.  You might want to wait until after you finish this blog, or even this series of ceithre bhlag, since these four blogs are set up as a challenge to discover what English words O’Toole is thinking of, via Irish, in fact, using lots of comhainmneacha i nGaeilge.

Seo agaibh, mar sin, focal a ceathair:

4. Íobairt?  Tabhartas?  And how’s that connected to “slad,” if at allOr “deonach,” likewise highly contextualized?

Again, synonyms first.  But you can probably tell even from the punctuation in the sub-heading above that “íobairt” is the shoo-in for “Ó Tuathail a Ceathair.”

íobairt: offering, or somewhat archaically now, an immolation; cf. íobair, agus Laidin offero

tabhartas: gift, boon, offering, cf. tabhair

slad: havoc, loot, plunder, as in ”sladphraghasanna” or “é a dhíol ar shladmhargadh.”

deonach: voluntary, as in “a thitim dheonach” (ag caint faoi júdó)

Unlike the word “difficult,” with its wide sweep of associations, O’Toole’s fourth word doesn’t generate a lot of synonyms, which makes our task a bit easier.  So the common thread of meaning is “sacrifice,” an ceathrú focal i liosta Uí Thuathail.

Íobairt (genitive: íobartha) is “sacrifice” in the standard sense.

Tabhartas is a gift or offering in the general sense; it could include a sacrifice, but more basically is simply related to “tabhair” (give).

There are also times that English uses “sacrifice” where Irish will use a completely different word.  One example is “sladphraghasanna” [SLAD-FRAIS-uh-nuh, with that “FRAIS” like English “price” or “slice” or Welsh “neis,” for more on that transcription dilemma, please see an nóta below].  “Sladphraghasanna” means “sacrifice prices,” using the Irish word “slad” (loot, plunder, havoc) instead of “sacrifice” as such.  A related phrase is “é a dhíol ar shladmhargadh [ay uh yeel err HLAHD-WAHR-uh-guh], meaning “to sell it at a sacrifice (sacrifice-bargain).”

A thitim dheonach” means “his sacrifice fall” (lit. his voluntary fall).

One more word to go till we’re finished with this liosta and I’m hoping you haven’t found it liosta.  How can a “liosta” be “liosta”?  Liosta liostaTráth na gcomhainmneacha arís!  While we see the word “liosta” meaning “a list,” much more often than its homonym, liosta, the adjective meaning “tedious” or “tiresome” (i mo thaithí féin, pé scéal é), both words do exist.  My guess is that the adjective “liosta” is somehow related to the English word “prolix” and Latin “prolixus,” but I’ll have to check out some more foclóirí to be sure.

At any rate, sin focal a ceathair as an gcúig théarma ar an liosta (nach liosta liosta é, i mo thuairimse, pé scéal é, as you can see from my determination to see this tionscadal through to its logical end, namely, téarma a cúig).   Hmm, since when should a thought in parentheses be longer than the actual sentence containing it?  Hope my former English teachers don’t get wind of this transgression against Strunk and White.  Actually I’d be tickled pink if they turned out to be reading mo bhlag!

Any previews as to what “téarma a cúig” will be that can be shared with léitheoirí an bhlag seo?  “Diabhal a fhios agam,” she said, feigning ignorance.  And that’s actually a leid bheag bhídeach.  Slán go dtí sin! – Róislín

Nóta (re: fuaim an fhocail “praghas”): – yes, I could have written the vowel sound as “ice” and hoped people would connect it with words like “rice,” “trice,” or “thrice,” but that would break my principle of trying to make analogies of sound instead of the incorporating actual (or nearly actual) English words into the transcription.  You’ve probably all seen the latter type of transcription, where a word like Welsh “dyna” is transcribed as “done-uh” and Latin “haec dies” becomes “hike dee-ace (all playing havoc with English’s silent “e”).  Another example of this approach to transcription (using English soundalikes) would be Spanish “suerte” transcribed, fairly frequently it seems, as “swear tay.”  This hinges on the totally erratic English “ea,” which we know and love from such dilemmagenic words as “bear,” “beard,” “heard” and “hearth.”  What’s the moral?  Don’t use English “ea” to describe sounds!.  “Dilemmagenic?”  Hmmm, just checked, doesn’t seem to show up anywhere online, at least not in my search.  It sure seems like a word that should exist though, so, I guess I hereby coin and start using it, with the “-genic” from Greek “genein” and resulting in the meaning “dilemma-inducing.”

As you may have guessed, “praghas” is actually borrowed from the English word “price;” there is another Irish word for price, “luach,” which is not a borrowing.  Something very similar happened with the word “saghas” [sais] (kind, sort, variety, size), cf. English “size.”

Gluais (Breatnais/Laidin/Spáinnis): dyna, there is, there are, that is, that are, as in “Dyna neis!,” (there’s nice, i.e. “That’s nice!”); haec dies, this (is the) day; suerte, luck

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