“Leaplings?” An Téarma As Gaeilge? Posted by róislín on Feb 29, 2012 in Irish Language
Just when I thought I had a pretty good handle on the vagaries of stórfhocal an Bhéarla, another word popped up. Maybe I should I say it entered mo bhandaleithead, or it came isteach i mo radar, or some other trendier expression. At any rate, it caught my eye. Or really, mo chluas, since I heard it ar an raidió. “Leapling.” How could I have missed it?
So, first port of call i gcás mar seo. I checked it on the Internet and found 3,790 hits for “leapling.” Not bad, but not ginormous. In contrast, “leap year baby” yielded a whopping 1,970,000. So at least I must have some company in having used the latter term. “Leap year baby” is what I’ve always heard.
In Irish, “leap year baby” should translate quite straightforwardly to one of the following, which also give us a run down on most of the Irish words for “baby”:
leanbh bliain bhisigh (lit. child/baby of leap year)
naíonán bliain bhisigh (lit. baby/infant of leap year)
leanbán bliain bhisigh (“leanbán” [LYAN-uh-bawn] is more a term of endearment, like “darling,” than a term used for officially designating babies as such, with “a leanbáin” in direct address, but I figured I should at least check it; Joyce used it, anglicized as “lambabaun,” just for regular darling babies though, not leap year ones)
babaí bliain bhisigh (baby of leap year)
bunóc bhliain bhisigh (very young infant/new-born baby of leap year)
bábán bliain bhisigh (small baby of leap year)
báb bhliain bhisigh (baby of leap year). “Báb” also means “a maiden.,” Hmm, could it be a prototype of the English “babe”? That’s as in “You Got Me,” not as in damh gorm Paul Bunyan or an “mhuc chaorach” i scéal Dick King-Smith, although I guess there’s a connection, semantically.
Bábáinín bliain bhisigh (little baby of leap year)
But I can’t say I’ve found a mhacasamhail in use in Irish, partly, perhaps, because the Irish concept of leap year isn’t based on “leaping” or “jumping.” But “leanbh bliain bhisigh” should do. That would be my choice of all the options given above.
Oh, and I checked na foirmeacha iolra also. Tada (nó más mian leat, faic! rud ar bith! amas ar bith!)!
Getting back to “leapling” as a newish word, well, I always welcome new vocabulary into the fold, and I think I’ve heard lots of special terms over the years. “Chime child,” yes. (That’s a child born between the strokes of midnight on Christmas Eve (or is that technically Christmas morning, once you get past the first stroke?). Words made with the suffix of diminution (-ling), yes. Yeanlings and weanlings, inklings and princelings (no princessling, ach sin scéal eile), bantlings and changelings, and ducklings and goslings, yes. But “leapling” was a new one for me. So I tracked it down a bit further and found it was coined around 2000. I feel partly reprieved, at least! And further by the fact that out of an cúigear mac léinn I asked about “leapling,” none had heard of it. And now we’re all so much the wiser.
An leanbh bliain bhisigh thú? If so, care to write in and tell us how (and when) you celebrate your laethanta breithe?
The term “leapling” does offer some interesting possibilities:
Would an only child born on Leap Day be a “leaplingleton”? Hmm, and the Irish for “singleton” – well, we’d revert to the term for an only child, “páiste aonair”
Would leaplings qualify for lascainí lá breithe on Irish airline tickets if they fly Aer Leaplingus? (Leaplings Aer Us? – yes, I know, I’m ducking!)
One leapling’s favorite term of endearment to another, at least sa Ghearmáin? “Mein liebling!”
And I guess a study of the way leaplings talk would have to be called “Leaplinguistics.” Hmm, straying very close to the trendy new Jeremy Lin territory here. Better end this blog now, sula bhfaighidh mé saighead sa ghlúin (before I get an arrow in the knee, or in this case, it might be sa teanga). SGF — Róislín
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