Irish Language Blog

How to say ‘Bearded Bornean Pig’ in Irish Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Bhuel, one might first ask, “Why say Bearded Bornean Pig” in Irish?  To which my response would be, why not?  It’ll give us a chance to practice the words “pig,” “bearded” (+ “beard”), and Bornean (+ Borneo).   Plus, we used an illustration of these impressive-looking swine in the last blog (nasc thíos), on the phrase, “On the Pig’s Back,” so it seems logical to explore the possibilities further.  Especially if discussing the Sus scrofa domesticus (domestic pig or muc chlóis) has come to seem perfectly familiar. 

(grafaic: By Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada (Sus Barbatus, the Bornean Bearded Pig) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

(grafaic: By Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada (Sus Barbatus, the Bornean Bearded Pig) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Whose back would rather be on? This 'muc chlóis ghleoite' or the 'Muc Fhéasógach Bhoirneoch' to the left? (grafaic: By Ben Salter (Flickr: Pig in a bucket) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Whose back would you rather be on? This ‘muc chlóis ghleoite’ or the ‘Muc Fhéasógach Bhoirneoch’ above? (grafaic: By Ben Salter (Flickr: Pig in a bucket) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s start with “pig,” since it’s the most basic of three words in our phrase.  Also, it’ll come first in the full phrase “Bearded Bornean Pig” in Irish, which will literally be: “pig + bearded + Bornean”. 

1) muc, pig, simple enough to say, but just remember the “u” is as in “put” (not as in “putt,” or “muck,” or for that matter, “muckety-muck).”

an mhuc [un wook OR un vook], the pig.  The “oo” in the sound guide refers to the sound of “book” and “look” and “Wookie,” not the double “o” of “food” or “blood.”

muice [MWIK-yuh], of a pig (eireaball muice, a tail of a pig, a pig’s tail).  Note how the original vowel sound (“-u-” as in “put”) of “muc” changes from a short “u” to “-ui-“, with a short “i” sound (more like the “i” in “it” or “big”).  

na muice [nuh MWIK-yuh], of a pig (eireaball na muice, the tail of the pig, the pig’s tail; Claí na Muice Duibhe, The Black Pig’s Dyke, lit. the dyke of the black pig)

muca, pigs

na muca, the pigs

muc, of pigs (An Coimisiún Muc agus Bagúin, The Pig and Bacon Commision, lit. The Commission of Pigs and Bacon; also “riar muc,” pig husbandry, lit. husbandry of pigs)

na muc, of the pigs, (eireabaill na muc, the tails of the pigs; sometimes an adjective (mucúil) can be used instead, for this meaning, as in: Siondróm Atáirgthe agus Riospráide Mucúil, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, aka Blue Ear Disease (of pigs), which uses “mucúil” (porcine) instead of “na muc” (of the pigs).

2) féasógach, bearded, from “féasóg,” a beard.  The word “feasógach” seems straightforward enough, but just remember, there are several other possibilities for “bearded” in Irish: a) meantán croiméalach, a bearded reedling (type of bird), lit. “mustached” reedling, from “croiméal,” mustache; b) cruithneacht cholgach, bearded wheat, lit. prickly or bristly wheat, from “colg,” an awn (regarding wheat), which is could also be interpreted as “a bristle,” although that is more typically “guaire.” 

3) Boirneoch, Bornean, from “Boirneo.”  For describing a noun that is grammatically feminine and singular, the word “Boirneoch” becomes “Bhoirneoch,” with the “bh” pronounced either like “w” or “v.”

So our final phrase is “Muc Fhéasógach Bhoirneoch,” or, in the plural: Muca Féasógacha Boirneocha.

And speaking of pigs’ backs, whose back would you rather be on — that of the S. scrofa domesticus or that of the Sus barbatus?

Sin é, as they say.  SFG — Róislín

Nasc: On The Pig’s Back vs. On the (implied) Hog’s Back: An Irish Expression Exegetically Examined Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Irish Language

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