Irish Language Blog

Dhá Bhratach: Bratach na hÉireann agus Bratach Mheiriceá Posted by on Jul 2, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Sa bhlag seo, beidh muid ag cur síos (describing) ar an dá bhratach atá luaite sa teideal: Bratach na hÉireann agus Bratach Mheiriceá.  Ar ndóigh, d’fhéadfaí i bhfad níos mó a rá faoi na bratacha seo.  Níl anseo ach cur síos beag agus cúpla ceist san áireamh (freagraí thíos).

I.  Bratach na hÉireann (The Flag of Ireland):

There are two main words for “green” in Irish: glas and uaine.  Which one do you think pertains to the Irish flag?  (freagra thíos)

There are at least two ways to say “white” in Irish, the most typical being “bán” and “geal.”  “Bán” in some contexts means “fair” (in color), “blank,” “empty” or “idle,” and “geal” can also mean “bright,” “happy,” or “beloved.”  An cheist chéanna: Which one do you think pertains to the Irish flag?  (freagra thíos)

There are several possible ways to indicate the third color of the Irish flag.  I’ve heard it described as “gold,” which would be “órga” (golden) or “órbhuí” (golden, goldish yellow).  An orange (the fruit) in Irish is “oráiste,” and sometimes things are described as being “ar dhath an oráiste” (of the color of the orange), but the word “oráiste” itself in Irish was not traditionally considered to be an adjective.  These days it is sometimes used as an adjective though.  The final main choice for the third panel of the flag would be “flannbhuí,” a combination of “flann” (blood-red) and “buí” (yellow).  So, one last time for the “ceist cheannann chéanna,” which one do you think pertains to the Irish flag?  (freagra thíos)

Tá trí dhath ar Bhratach na hÉireann agus mar sin, tugtar an leasainm “An Trídhathach” air (There are three colors on the Flag of Ireland and therefore it is called by the nickname, “The Tricolour,” which in US English would be “The Tricolor”).

II. Bratach Mheiriceá (The American Flag)

The American flag also has three colors, as we’ve previously discussed, but the term “tricolor” is generally reserved for flags with three broad panels of color, either cothrománach (mar Bhratach na hIndia or Bratach na  hAirméine) or ingearach (mar Bhratach na hÉireann, Bratach Thalamh an Éisc, nó Bratach na Fraince)

We’ve already talked about the basic colors of “Old Glory,” namely red, white, and blue (dearg, bán, gorm), but this might be an interesting time to discuss the phrases “Old Glory Red” and “Old Glory Blue,” the official names for the particular hues used in the American flag.

So let’s translate “glory” first: “glóir” would be the most logical choice, though there are other words that mean “glory” (gradam, onóir, caithréim).

“Old” here would have to be the prefix form “sean-“ since there’s no sentence into which to drop a full-fledged aidiacht fhaisnéiseach (i.e. “sean” as an adjective separated from its noun).  So, so far, we have “SeanGhlóir.”

Since “glóir” is feminine, “SeanGhlóir” is also feminine.  Since it’s a proper noun here, it seems appropriate to give it the definite article (“an” for “the”).  This will then trigger the t-prefixing used with certain feminine singular nouns beginning with “s” (like “an tsráid” and “an tsúil”).  We end up with “An tSeanGhlóir.”

So how do we apply that to the colors red and blue, to describe the American flag as specifically as possible.  I’d go with “dearg na SeanGhlóire” and “gorm na SeanGhlóire,” adding the final “-e” to “glóir” for an tuiseal ginideach.  Where’d that pesky little “t-“ go?  Hibernating until “an tSeanGhlóir” shows up as the subject or object in the sentence.  Once the phrase is made possessive, as we have here in “the red of (the) Old Glory)” and “the blue of (the) Old Glory,” that little “t” prefix goes away.

Well, that’s more than six colors to mull over and lots of food for thought.  So many words have long trails of meanings, it’s often challenging (but fun) to figure out the very best one for certain situations.  It has just come to my attention that the Latin word “asper” has at least 13 meanings, ranging from “bitter” to “violent.”  Even as an abstract noun, “asperitas,” there are at least eight meanings.  All of which contribute to our English word “asperity” (gairbhe, gairge, or boirbe, in Irish, btw).  When we’re dealing with colors, there is often overt symbolism involved, as with the Irish flag.  Any contributors in that regard? 

Amanna tugtar “trídhathach” ar bhratach a bhfuil níos mó ná trí dhath air.  Amanna tá sin mar gheall ar shuaitheantas atá forshuite ar an ngréas trí dhath.   Is sampla de sin í Bratach na hIndia, le “Roth an Dlí” (Seacra nó “Chakra” Ashoka) sa lár, ar an táláideán bán.   Amanna eile, tá sé mar gheall ar fhimbriú. 

On that semi-cliff-hanging note (cliff-hanging for vexillology buffs; maybe not-so-cliff-hanging for the world at large), we’ll wrap up for now, and return to the trídhathaigh sa chéad bhlag eile.  

Gluais: faisnéiseach, predicate (adj), predicative; fimbriú, fimbriation; forshuite, superimposed; gréas, pattern, design; seacra, chakra, a chiallaíonn “roth” i Sanscrait; suaitheantas, emblem; táláideán, fess

Freagraí: uaine, bán, flannbhuí, de réir Bhunreacht na hÉireann (according to the Constitution of Ireland).

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