Irish Language Blog

Five Civil Rights Terms in Irish (baghcat, cearta sibhialta, gníomhaí, mórshiúl, neamhfhoréigean) Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Imeascadh scoile, 1955 -- ceann de phríomhaidhmeanna ghluaiseacht na gcearta sibhialta i Meiriceá; grafaic: (By Thomas J. O'Halloran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Imeascadh scoile, 1955 — ceann de phríomhaidhmeanna ghluaiseacht na gcearta sibhialta i Meiriceá; grafaic: (By Thomas J. O’Halloran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Following our recent blog on Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought it might be useful to look a little further into some related voca-bulary.  Four of the keywords here were used in that post (nasc thíos); one (neamhfhoréigean), as it happens, was not.   Here are the words, with some pronunciation tips:

  1. Baghcat [BY-kot; with the “y” as in the IPA symbol /ai/, that is like English “I” or “by,” or, for that matter, like the Newfoundland English pronunciation of “I’s da b’ye dat builds da boat”): yes, this is the Irish spelling for “boycott,” a word which comes from the English surname of Captain Charles C. Boycott (1832-1897), an unjust and unpopular land agent (gníomhaire talún) in County Mayo. He was ostracized by the local tenants, leading to his name being used to describe such a practice. In Irish, it became a standard 1st-declension noun so we have the following forms:

an baghcat, the boycott

an bhaghcait [un WY-kuitch], of the boycott (faoi bhagairt an bhaghcait)

na baghcait [nuh BY-kuitch], the boycotts

na mbaghcat [nuh MY-kot], of the boycotts (faoi bhagairt na mbaghcat).  For what it’s worth, a Yahoo search gave me no hits (amas ar bith) for this phrase and Google gave me a scant two, both from grammar databases, not from any usage in context.

Our Martin Luther King, Jr. example?  Baghcat Bus Montgomery.

  1. Cearta Sibhialta. This phrase is probably most typically found in the plural, as given here, but it can be singular, as in:

an ceart sibhialta [un kyart SHIV-ee-ul-tuh], the civil right (probably not much used with the definite article and in the singular– the only examples I find online smack of machine translation)

an chirt shibhialta, “of the civil right,” but a very unlikely phrase in the real world.  No Google or Yahoo hits at all, for what that’s worth.

We’re more likely to encounter this in the plural, as:

na cearta sibhialta, the civil rights

na gceart sibhialta, of the civil rights.  Since most Irish phrases don’t include the words “of” or multiple uses of “the” for a phrase like, say, “(the) assurance (of the) civil rights (of) the people of …”, we don’t actually see much use of this exact phrase, either.   Online search hits: Yahoo, 50; Google, 50 — an unusual coincidence!  That’s not much to choose from, but here’s one example, at least:

Agus maireann scáil Uí Chadhain i gcónaí bíodh is gur iomaí sin Ó Cadhain atá ann: fathach liteartha, gaiscíoch na gceart sibhialta, poblachtóir dílis, sóisialach de smior, bailitheoir béaloidis, cnuasaitheoir foclóra, stocaire polaitiúil, múinteoir cruthanta, cime Curraigh, fáiteallaí faisnéise agus níl sa gcur síos sin ach cuid bheag de réimsí poiblí an fhir mhóir atá á chomóradh le linn Oireachtas seo na Bealtaine.  (from “Máirtín Ó Cadhain agus Dioscúrsa an Dúchais,” le Dónall Ó Braonáin, RTÉ, RnaG, Léacht an Oireachtais 2006 (Cuid 1),

And that lengthy quote, a glossator’s delight, might warrant a blagmhír of its own, soon.

Sometimes “ar” (on) is used to describe a civil rights organization or activity, as in:

Prótacal Roghnach a ghabhann leis an gCúnant Idirnáisiúnta ar Chearta Sibhialta agus Polaitiúla

Or, in other cases, the word “the” (and the eclipsis it triggers), is absent altogether from the first part of the phrase:

Gluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement (i.e. the movement of the civil rights of the Gaeltacht)

3) Gníomhaí, activist, also agent , player/driver/actor (one who does actions, not a theater or film actor, which is “aisteoir“)

Here are the forms, and a few examples:

an gníomhaí [un GNEEV-ee], the activist, agent, etc.

an ghníomhaí [un YNEEV-ee], of the activist (ainm an ghníomhaí)

And in the plural:

na gníomhaithe [nuh GNEEV-ih-huh], the activists

na ngníomhaithe [nung-NEEV-ih-huh], of the activists (ainmneacha na ngníomhaithe)

And some samples:

gníomhaí ar son chearta an duine, human rights activist (lit. activist on behalf of the rights of the person)

gníomhaí airgeadais, financial player

And on the scientific side of things:

gníomhaí bogtha uisce, water-softening agent

gníomhaí frithstolptha, anti-caking agent

gníomhaí greamaitheach, tackifying agent

Sometimes “oibreán” is used for functions like these.

Note the nuance of difference with “gníomhaire” (agent) as in “gníomhaire talún” (land-agent), “gníomhaire eastáit” (estate-agent), “gníomhaire faisnéise” (intelligence agent) and “gníomhaire loingis” (shipping agent)

  1. Mórshiúl, march, procession, parade. “Mairseáil” can also be used for “a march” (and for “to march”) and “paráid” for “a parade.” NB: not to be mistaken for “mórshúil” (a great expectation, lit. “a big hope/eye”)

an mórshiúl, the march, the parade, etc.

an mhórshiúil, of the march, parade, etc.

na mórshiúlta, the marches, the parades

na mórshiúlta (same form as above), of the marches, of the parades (Coimisiún na Mórshiúlta)

Agus cúpla sampla:

Mórshiúl Comhionnannais, Equality March

Mórshiúl Comhionnannais LADT, LGBT Equality March (LADT = Leispiach, Aerach, Déghnéasach, Trasinscneach)

  1. And finally, a word which is fundamental to civil rights movements in general, which I figured we should include here, even though it wasn’t in the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. blog post.

neamhfhoréigean [NyOW-OR-ayg-yun], non-violence  gs: neamhfhoréigin.  No plural.  A combination of “neamh-” (negative prefix) and “foréigean” (violence).

Sometimes the idea of “non-violence” is expressed by referring to “peace, ” as opposed to negating violence.  Seo sampla:

non-violent method: modh síochánta, with “síochánta” literally meaning “peaceful,” not “non-violent” as such

Síochánta” (peaceful, peaceable), the adjective, is related to the word “síocháin” (peace).  A couple of other well-known phrases regarding peace are “Garda Síochána” and “An Próiséas Síochána” (aka Próiséas na Síochána).  Regarding the latter, sometimes the definite article is dropped because of the structure of the phrase, particularly if it’s a long phrase, such as the name of a political or diplomatic organization.  As an example, take these nine words, add or adjust for appropriate mutations and endings, and put them in the right sequence for “Ad hoc Working Party on the Middle East Peace Process” — ad, an, an, hoc, Meánoirthear, meitheal, próiseas, síocháin, um.   Got it?  Muna bhfuil, tá an freagra thíos.

NB: The word “an” (the) does occur twice in the phrase but not in the “process of peace” section of it.

Well, no doubt this civil rights-themed vocabulary could extend far further, but liosta cúig fhocal seems a good length for now.  I hope you’ve found “ábhar machnaimh” here.  SGF — Róislín

Nasc: Martin Luther King, Jr. — Capsúlbheathaisnéis i nGaeilge (Brief Bio in Irish) Posted on 18. Jan, 2016 by róislín in Irish Language (

Freagra: An Mheitheal ad hoc um Próiseas Síochána an Mheánoirthir, lit. the working party – ad hoc – for/on – [the] process of peace — [of] the Middle East

Tags: , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: