Irish Language Blog

Laethe Náisiúnta nó Idirnáisiúnta Eile i Mí Iúil (Chess, Mosquitoes, and Junk Food, Oh My!) Posted by on Jul 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

And what do those topics have in common?  Well, they all have a lá náisiúnta or idirnáisiúnta in July.  And they’re all interesting words vocabulary-wise.  But then, I find almost all words interesting vocabulary-wise.  My latest cool word in English?  “Limicoline,” which would describe various lapairí, such as feadóga, gobadáin, agus falaróip.  “Limicoline” isn’t actually such an obscure word – it’s a straight shot from Latin limicola, but somehow I think we missed that while reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Anyway, here are the three terms in Irish, and a bit of cúlra (background):

Ficheall (20 Iúil)

Corrmhíolta nó Muiscítí (23 Iúil)

Bia Beagmhaitheasa (21 Iúil)

1) Ficheall, equated with chess, and in this case, one must generally go with the flow.  However, there is an issue with saying that this Old Irish word (derived from fidchell) means or “is” chess, since it predates the alleged date for the arrival of chess in Europe (12th century). I’m slowly plowing my way through A History of Board Games  Other than Chess, by Harold James Ruthven Murray (ainm iontach!) since it finally was marked down to a reasonable price at my university bookstore.  That is, from $178 (list) to $9.95, which is more my style.  Perhaps when I’m done, I can give you a better picture.  But I must say that the Celtic input gets relatively short shrift in that book, which mostly emphasizes games like táiplis bheag agus táiplis mhór, as I recall, perhaps faultily, from memory.  My copy of the book is i bhfolach (hiding) and I can’t find a réamhamharc de online.  Those games, in sequence are, checkers (draughts) and backgammon.

Dála an scéil, tá an Lá Náisiúnta (Meiriceánach) ar an 9ú lá de mhí Mheán Fómhair.  Seo an lá idirnáisiúnta.
2) Corrmhíolta nó Muiscítí: an tSioraincheist (the eternal dilemma), which is the better choice of words, when presented with two or more.  I tend to favor “muiscít” for “mosquito” since it reflects the interesting history of the word in English, which derives from Latin “mosca” (a fly).

Corrmhíol is a bit vague sounding, to me, since it basically means “a snouted beast or insect,” and specifically also means “midge” or “gnat.”  I’m no feithideolaí, but to me that sets up a taxonomy-shattering amalgamation of meanings.  Sometimes the focal iasachta (borrowed word) is a lot more straightforward, at least for modern and global usage.

3) Bia Beagmhaitheasa, lit. “food of little goodness,” as opposed to actually saying “junk food”  “Junk” in the normal sense would be “mangarae” (roughly like saying “mongerables”).  Or simply “earra gan mhaith,” (item without goodness).  Doesn’t have quite the panache of “junk,” which probably comes from a word for “old useless rope.”

And then of course there’s “junk,” the boat, which would be “siunca” in Irish.  But I digress (ní nach ionadh!)

There are a few more choice celebrations we can discuss for July, then we can repeat the whole cycle for August.  Or maybe drift back to actual gramadach (vótaí?).  But meanwhile, Lá Lughnasa (August 1st) will trump any other upcoming national days, for this blog, at least.  So, roll over, a Thionscnóirí, agus a Chlélámhacha (note for the last term: I don’t like to use “ciotóga,” which implies awkwardness).  Yes, both of those are honored i mí Lúnasa.

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


  1. pagra:

    It`s amazing how many words in English, Irish, and other languages have been influenced by the Latin. Good Ole Monks….

Leave a comment: