Irish Language Blog

Meryl Streep mar Éireannach Mná is mar Fhrancach Mná Posted by on Aug 13, 2009 in Irish Language

Chonaic mé an scannán Julie & Julia ar an deireadh seachtaine agus bhí sé go hiontach.  Rinne Meryl Streep ról Julia Child agus tá an-jab déanta aici leis an mblas Francach, sin mo bharúil, pé scéal é.  Ar ndóigh, níorbh Fhrancach í Julia ach Meiriceánach a d’fhoghlaim Fraincis.  Mar sin, d’fhéadfadh blas Meryl a bheith mar Mheiriceánach ag labhairt Fraincise.  Ar ndóigh blas clúiteach agus tuin chainte di féin a bhí ag Julia Child! 


Reviewer Steve Rhodes ( once described Streep as a “caimileon guthach.  Of course, he said it i mBéarla, a “vocal chameleon.” 

Now that’s a useful Irish phrase to try to work into some comhrá at your next “uair mhanglaim” (cocktail hour). 


So, how many other blasanna can you think of that Meryl Streep has mastered?  And which films were they in (freagraí thíos): Polannach?  Danmhargach?  Sasanach? Iodálach? At least one iriseoir (san iris, Time, 9/7/81) describes her as slipping into a little Zsa Zsa Gabor riff as well but I don’t think the blas “Gaborach” (or could I say, the “blas ZsaZsaíoch”?) ever made it into a film.  Please let me know if otherwise.  


Streep herself has commented on how the Irish accent she used as “Kate Mundy” in Dancing at Lughnasa wasn’t the blas Bhaile Átha Cliath that most Americans are familiar with in movies, but a distinctively Northern, Donegal one.  She has Irish, English, and Swiss ancestry on her mother’s side.  I remember reading an article around the time that Lughnasa opened, in which she said she felt a greater connection to that side of the family, while making the film.  At any rate, she was highly praised for her Irish accent work.  She ultimately mastered it more, as she once said, by letting it sink in naturally than by working with a dialect coach.  An caimileon guthach at work!.    


Cá as an sloinne “Streep” é féin?  Is focal Ollanach é agus ciallaíonn sé “líne dhíreach” ach “Messerschnitz” (-schmitz?) an sloinne fíor a bhí ar an teaghlach sular athraigh a sinsir é. 


One thing that’s certain, if there’s an official blas Nua-Gheirsí, Meryl Streep can turn it off and on at will.  Her accent work as Sister Aloysius in Doubt (2008) came close to her home territory (Geirsí Thuaidh); that movie was set sa Bhroncs [say: suh VRONKS]. 


One regret of mine, unless she chooses to reprise the role, or some long-buried tapes emerge, we’ll never get to hear Streep’s accent as the consummate hillbilly doll, Daisy Mae, in Li’l Abner, which she played in high school. 


Tá mé ag tnúth lena cloisteáil mar bhean an tsionnaigh sa scannán Fantastic Mr. Fox a

osclóidh i Mí na Samhna sna Stáit Aontaithe.  Meryl Streep agus guth sionnaigh aici!  Sionnachúil, i ngach ciall den fhocal, déarfainn.  . 


For a blúirín (snippet) of Streep sna Gleannta for the opening of Dancing at Lughnasa there, see


And finally, cúpla pointe gramadaí, for those who’ve been missing it.  In the teideal for this blog, I used the phrase to indicate a woman’s nationality; the context emphasizes the fact that an acting role is involved and that, to me, calls for the full phrase.  Typically, people don’t use this form in casual conversation, as discussed in the previous blogs on nationality.  You may remember that the word “Irishwoman” is created by stating the nationality (Éireannach) followed by mná, which is the possessive form of “bean” (woman).  This feminine noun is grammatically irregular, meaning, among other things, that its possessive form looks like its plural subject form, mná. 


Why possessive, anyway?  What’s being possessed?  Nothing really.  It’s “complicated,” as everyone’s saying these days, but basically the rule is that nouns used “attributively” to modify other nouns are in the possessive (genitive) form in Irish; sometimes they can be made into prefixes also, but sin Á.B.E.  For nationality, the basic form of the noun (Éireannach, srl.) is inherently masculine and may be understood as gender-free in some contexts.  But to truly say “Irishwoman,” one needs “mná” at the end.  


Pointe gramadaí eile: “agus” (and) may be shortened to “is,” making it look like the Irish verb “is” [say: iss], which itself is similar to but not the same as the English verb “is” [say: izz].  With so much work done previously on stating nationalities, (Is Breatnach é, srl.), just clarifying here that this “is” really is the conjunction. 


Freagraí, as Gaeilge ar dtús, just for a babhta beag traenála: a: Rogha Shadhbh, b: As an Afraic, c: Bean an Leifteanaint Fhrancaigh, d: Droichid Chontae Madison (vóta? Droichid Chontae Madison nó Droichid Chontae Mhadison?  Traditionally, one continued to lenite non-Irish words if the context called for it (An Mhississippi, An Mhackenzie, An Bhug, Guine-Bhissau, múinteoir Ghalileo), which would give us “Mhadison.”  I usually look for precedents but I find no samplaí either way for this particular case, either ar líne or i gcló.  Anois, as Béarla: Sophie’s Choice, b: Out of Africa, c: The French Lieutenant’s Woman d: The Bridges of Madison County 


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