Irish Language Blog

Laethanta na Seachtaine i bhFrásaí le “Dé” (Days of the Week, with Pronunciation, in “Dé” Phrases) Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

As alluded to in the previous blog, there are two main ways to refer to the days of the week in Irish.  One is when the day is the subject of the sentence, as in “Inniu an Luan” (Today is Monday).  The other form is preceded by the word “Dé” instead of the word “an” and is typically used to say “on Monday / Tuesday,” etc. 

Here are the seven weekday names in the “Dé” form:

Dé Domhnaigh [djay DOH-nee]

Dé Luain [djay LOO-in]

Dé Máirt [djay mawrtch]

Dé Céadaoin (or alternately, especially in Donegal, Dé Céadaoine) [djay KyAY-deen]

Déardaoin (no separate word “dé” since it’s already built in) [DjAYR-deen]

Dé hAoine [djay HEEN-yuh]

Dé Sathairn [djay SAH-hirzhn]

As you may have noticed, there are slight changes to the names, sometimes at the beginning, sometimes at the end, and sometimes internally.  That’s the way Irish works!  The changes are as follows:

Luan and Satharn: insert an “i” before the final consonant or consonant cluster.

Domhnach: insert an “i” as above, which causes the “ch” of “Domhnach” to change to “gh”

Máirt and Céadaoin: are no longer lenited.

Déardaoin: the preceding “an” is lost; no other change

Aoine: a lower-case “h” is prefixed

The pronunciation of the “Dé” element will vary slightly, according to how “slenderly” you pronounce your slender “d’s.”  Some people pronounce it almost like “jay,” transliterated as “djay.”  For other speakers, it’s more like the “d” you might hear in titles like “The Duke of York” or “The Duke of Atholl” but not in the “Dukes of Hazzard” or other American usages (like “The Duke” himself, of course).  You might say it’s about halfway between an American pronunciation of “day” and an American pronunciation of “jay.” 

This word “” is from a now-archaic word in Irish, “dia,” meaning “day.”  The “” form meant “on the day of.”  The curious part of all this, of course, is that this word for “day” is not at all related to the ordinary Irish word for day, “lá,” as in “Tá an lá go maith.”  So Irish has two words for “day.”  One, “” is uniquely Gaelic with parallels in Scottish Gaelic and Manx.  The other, “dia” or “,” with very limited application in Irish, is in fact a neat tie in to the word for “day” in many other European languages (dies, día, dydd, deiz, Tag, etc.) 

Alternately to all of this, one can say: ar an [on the] Luan, ar an Máirt (or ar an Mháirt, depending on dialect), ar an gCéadaoin (ar an Chéadaoin), etc.

Also, these days, we find statements like “Inniu Dé Luain” for “Today is Monday,” but this isn’t as traditional.

Sin é – cur síos ar an bhfocal “Dé.”  SGF – Róislín

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