Irish Language Blog

Cupán nó Corn? (when speaking of “The World”) Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Imreoir sacair (peileadóir)

Imreoir sacair (peileadóir)

Corn an Domhain.  The World Cup.  A good reminder never to assume that the closest basic Irish equivalent is the one you want for a translation.

In Irish, “cupán” is used for a cup to drink from, and can give us phrases like:

cupán tae

cupán caife

cupán cócó

A little less applicable to modern life is “cupán cuinneoige,” which is the perforated cap of a churn-dash (cuinneog, with “cuinneoige” for “of a churn-dash”).

But “cupán” is not used for sports events.  In most cases, “corn” (lit. horn) is used.  “Corn” can also be used in various combinations related to horns, such as “corn na bhfuíoll” or “corn na flúirse” (cornucopia), corn óil (a drinking horn), and of course, the various musical instruments (corn Sasanach, alpchorn, corn Francach).

In Irish, in a phrase like “World Cup,” the word “corn” will come first, then the word describing the type of event.  So World Cup is “Corn an Domhain” (lit. the cup of the world).

You might have noticed the slight change from the basic word “domhan” (world) to “domhain,” with the inserted letter “-i-” marking the genitive case.  There is a slight difference in pronunciation:

domhan [DOH-won]

domhain [DOH-win], with the “n” almost as if you’re getting ready to  say the “ny” of “canyon” or the middle “n” of “onion” or “bunion.”

These lead us to a lookalike word to watch out for, “domhain,” which has two main meanings:

domhain {DOH-win], a noun meaning “depth,” with “doimhne” [DIV-nuh] for its genitive case

domhain, an adjective, meaning “deep,” with “doimhne” for its plural form

At any rate, back to the sports cups, “Corn an Domhain,” like “World Cup” itself, is interesting in that it presumes that the sport is “soccer” (in the U.S.), “sacar” in Irish, and “football” or its equivalent (futebol, fussboll, pêl-droed, pediludium, Mpira wa Miguu, etc.) in the rest of the world.

Let’s take a quick look at some other major sporting events.  You’ll notice the actual sport is named in all of the examples below:

Corn Cruicéid an Domhain, the Cricket World Cup

Corn Haca an Domhain, the Hockey World Cup

An Corn Domhanda Rugbaí, the Rugby World Cup

Corn an Domhain sa Leadóg Bhoird, the Table-Tennis World Cup

Corn Gailf an Domhain, the Golf World Cup

Notice that there are several different structures involved in these examples:

1) corn + ainm an spóirt sa tuiseal ginideach + “an domhain”: Corn Cruicéid an Domhain, lit. Cup (of) Cricket of the World and Corn Gailf an Domhain, lit. Cup (of) Golf of the World

2) with the preposition “sa” (in the): corn + an domhain + sa + ainm an spóirt: Corn an Domhain sa Leadóg Bhoird, lit. Cup of the World in “the” Table-Tennis.  The Irish original does mean “in the table-tennis,” but standard English would not put “the” in such a phrase.  So I put it in quotation marks here.

3) with the adjective “domhanda” (world-wide, global, terrestrial): an corn + domhanda  + ainm an spóirt: An Corn Domhanda Rugbaí, lit. the world-wide cup (of) rugby

As for the physical trophy itself, that is usually just “trófaí” (Trófaí Haca na hÉireann, etc.), but sometimes “corn” is used (Corn na gCuradh, the Champions Trophy), and in some contexts, comhramh [KOH-ruv], meaning “trophy” or “triumph,” applies.

Well, whichever team you’re rooting for, bain sult as a bheith ag breathnú ar na cluichí. SGF – Róislín

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