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In the most recent blog (nasc thíos), we looked at Gwyneth Wynn’s charming Micí ar an bPortach (1998) and provided a glossary of some of the interesting Irish vocabulary words contained in the book. Most of the entries had to do with digging, drying and “footing” turf. Today, we’ll look at another book by Wynn about the same characters, Teidí (béar, ar ndóigh) agus Micí (madra): Micí agus an Rí (1995).
Once again, like many picture books, Micí agus an Rí isn’t “roinnte ina leathanaigh,” so I’ve provided page numbers for easy reference. Although the vocabulary in this book isn’t quite as specialized as the turbary talk in Micí ar an bPortach, there are still plenty of interesting phrases to examine, including a few that might not be crystal clear to the learner, even though the book is meant for young children.
leathanach 1: bhíodh, used to be, the infamous “aimsir ghnáthchaite” form of the verb “to be,” known in English as “the past habitual”
leathanach 3: rí na n-ainmhithe, the king of the animals, or as we might say in English, “the king of the beasts.” A nice example of an tuiseal ginideach iolra.
Anybody else share Teidí’s concern that the younger generation is spending too much time “ag breathnú ar an teilifís“? If so, all the more reason to check out Micí’s alternative entertainment as depicted in the book..
leathanach 5: néal, normally “a cloud” but here, we might say “a wink” as in “a wink of sleep.”
leathanach 7: lean ort, as a command, with “ort” (lit. on you), it means “continue on.” “Lean” by itself usually means “follow” or “continue.”
leathanach 9: breacadh an lae, dawn, lit. “the speckling of the day,” an image which I love
leathanach 11: le blianta anuas, for years, very literally, “with years down from above.” This is actually quite a common expression, often with numbers, even if the use of “anuas” may require some getting used to on the part of the Irish learners.
leathanach 13: go dtí go bhfaca sé, until he saw. Although “go dtí” often means “to” (go dtí an Spáinn) it can also mean “until” as we see here.
leathanach 15: dhá mhias lán de leite, two dishes full of porridge. This structure is for “of porridge” as the contents of the dishes. If we were talking about the characteristics of porridge, we’d probably use “leitean,” which also means “of porridge,” as in “cnapánacht na leitean” (the lumpiness of the porridge) or one of my favorite Irish expressions, “lámha leitean” (butterfingers, lit. porridge-hands).
Come to think of it, it’s interesting, isn’t it, the difference in both English and Irish between “lumpiness” (cnapánacht) and lumpishness? “Lumpishness” can be a human characteristic (dúire, bómántacht), whereas lumpiness usually isn’t (unless you are a fear bréige (scarecrow, lit. man of falseness). Those words for lumpishness also have additional meanings, including “dourness” (dúire), “dullness” (bómántacht) and “stupidity” (bómántacht, dúire), which could lead us down an interesting garden path of other synonyms, but that will have to wait for some other blogpost.
leathanach 17: well, an leon, rí na n-ainmhithe, turns out to have no “fiacla” (teeth), being a very elderly lion, so porridge is the order of the day. “Leon” is an obvious cognate to “lion” and “leo” (that’s “Leo” in English or Latin, not the Irish word “leo,” which is completely different). Remember the pronunciation of the “eo” vowel sound, like a long oh, as in “Oh my!” or like “loan” but with a slender “l.” In other words, “leon” in Irish is one syllable, not two like “Leo” [lee-oh] or “lion” [ly-un]. The “l” of the Irish “leon,” is slender, meaning it’s more like the “l” of English “million” or “billion” than like the “l” of English “lion” or “leo” or “loan.”
How the “leon” ended up somewhere near Ros Muc, Co. Galway, after spending his cubhood san Afraic, isn’t specified. Maybe someday we’ll get the back-story from Wynn.
Another nice word from this page is “lách,” (pleasant) or as we have it here, “an-lách” (very pleasant). A very useful word, although thinking of the vocabulary from the dozen or so different textbooks I’ve taught from, “lách” doesn’t seem to show up much. Another word that strikes me as similar in prominence is “stuama,” which we seem to encounter constantly in real life and in actual literature, but which doesn’t seem to show up much in textbooks. Not that I’m saying “never,” but these two words seems to be noticeably absent from textbooks and noticeably prominent in real-life descriptions. Well, that’s probably another research topic for a rainy day — important Irish vocabulary for daily life that isn’t typically taught in textbooks.
leathanach 19: ulchabhán, an owl. For more on owls, you might like to check out a previous blogpost dedicated to them: ‘Owl’ About It? Cineálacha Ulchabhán i nGaeilge (Types of Owls in Irish) Posted by róislín on Jan 14, 2015 in Irish Language.
leathanach 21: a nice example here of a rhetorical question (ceist reitriciúil), which is really more of an exclamation (uaillbhreas): “Nach ar Theidí a bhí an t-áthas nuair a tháinig Micí ar ais!” Wasn’t Teidí happy when Micí came back!, or more literally, “Wasn’t it on Teidí that happiness was when Micí came back!”
Note that, as in English, these types of exclamatory rhetorical questions (ceisteanna reitriciúla uaillbhreasa) may be punctuated (poncaithe) with exclamation marks (comharthaí uaillbhreasa) instead of with question marks (comharthaí ceiste). And even there, a point to note is that the Irish phrases for question marks and exclamation marks/exclamation points are based on “comhartha” (mark, sign, signal, symbol, etc.), not on the seemingly closer “marc” (mark, tag, marking). Hmm, is there an Irish word for “interrobang”? Má tá, níor chuala mé riamh é.
So that’s some vocabulary for Micí agus an Rí, a fun book for Irish speakers of all ages, and especially perhaps for those reading bedtime stories to children, since that’s apparently how the story originated. That makes it one more to add to the list of children’s classic books where the adventure takes place at night when the protagonists (na príomhcharachtair) are supposed to be asleep. A few others that come to mind are In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak and Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.
Anyway, to wrap up, here’s a vocab summary: bhíodh, breacadh an lae, go dtí, lách, lean ort, le blianta anuas, leite/leitean, leon, néal, rí na n-ainmhithe, ulchabhán. An cuimhin leat cialla na bhfocal sin go léir? Plus there were a few terms about language itself: aimsir ghnáthchaite, ceist reitriciúil, uaillbhreas, comhartha ceiste, comhartha uaillbhreasa. Slán go fóill — Róislín
Nasc don bhlagmhír eile faoi leabhar eile Wynn: An Irish Vocabulary Guide for Gwyneth Wynn’s ‘Micí ar an bPortach’ Posted by róislín on Apr 16, 2017 in Irish Language
Liosta (nach iomlan) d’áiteanna ina bhfuil Micí agus an Rí agus Micí ar an bPortach ar fáil: http://www.forasnagaeilge.ie/fuinn/an-gum/ceannach/
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