Irish Language Blog

Mothúcháin: Joy, Melancholy, Indifference, Astonishment and more, in Irish Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Seanstraoiseoga, sula raibh na focail "straoiseog" agus "emoticon" ann.   (, public domain)

Seanstraoiseoga, sula raibh na focail “straoiseog” agus “emoticon” ann.
(, public domain)

In the last blog post, we looked at four emotions as shown in an early example of emoticons.  They pre-date the English word “emoticon” by about a century, being from an 1881 issue of Puck magazine.  Perhaps we should call them “proto-emoticons,” which in Irish could be either “prótastraoiseoga” or “luathstraoiseoga.”  Either way, it’s a mouthful.  They’re pronounced “PROH-tuh-STREESH-oh-guh” and “LOO-uh-STREESH-oh-guh,” fairly straightforward, all things considered.

Of course, those were the plural forms.  In the singular, they’d be “prótastraoiseog” or “luathstraoiseog.”  And with the word “the” in front, they’d be:

an phrótastraoiseog [un FROH-tuh-STREESH-ohg], the proto-emoticon, with lenition causing the “p” to change to “ph”

an luathstraoiseog [un LOO-uh-STREESH-ohg], no change to the spelling after the word “the” because “luathstraoiseog” starts with the letter “l.”

I wonder if the person who concocted those four designs for Puck magazine in 1881 had a group name for them, maybe something like “typographical faces.”  I wonder if we’ll ever know!

At any rate, it gives us some food for thought for further discussion of emotions.  The last blog listed several Irish words for each of the English terms given.   Here they are again, but with pronunciation tips and a few other comments:

1) joy

áthas [AW-huss], additional meaning: happiness (as in “Tá áthas orm sin a chloisteáil” or “… a chluinstin“)

lúcháir [LOOKH-irzh], additional meanings: gladness, exultation.  This one can have a special connotation of joy in welcoming someone, as in “An raibh lúcháir ar mhuintir Bozeman, Montana, roimh an triúr Vulcánach a landáil ansin sa bhliain 2063?”  Note that I don’t say “a landálfaidh,” because from today’s perspective, I’m not sure it’ll really happen (less than 50 years from now).   I’m using the past tense (landáil), because, in the First Contact movie, we’re looking back on time from a more distant Star Trek perspective.  “Landálfaidh” [lan-DAWL-hee] means “will land.”

2) melancholy

meon dubhach [myohn DOO-ukh], lit. dark/dismal/gloomy, etc. disposition, temperament, etc

And for “melancholy” as in “melancholia” (for what I assume is a narrow shade of difference in meaning):

lionn dubh [lyun duv OR lyun doo], lit. black mood or humor (“humor” as “mood” or “temperament” being fairly archaic in English, by this point)

dúlionn [doo-lyun], basically the same as “lionn dubh,” but in reverse word order, as a compound noun.  The “-bh” of “dubh” disappears in the modern (post-reform) spelling and the “u” gets a long mark to compensate

galar dubhach [GAH-lur DOO-ukh], lit. dark/dismal/gloomy, etc. disease

galar dúchroíoch [GAH-lur DOO-KHREE-ukh], lit. joyless (from “dubh” + “-chroíoch,” which, in turn, is from “croí,” heart) disease

3) indifference

neamhshuim [nyow-him, silent “m” and “s”, the “-ow” is as in “now” or “cow,” not as in “show” or “grow.”  Some speakers say “nyav-him”], lit. non-interest

fuarchúis [FOO-ur-KHOOSH], lit. “cold cause/reason,” additional meanings: apathy, imperturbability, frigidity

cuma, lit. either “the same” or “a matter of indifference” as in “Is cuma liom faoi” (I’m indifferent about it; It’s equal to me about it; I don’t care about it)

4) astonishment

iontas [EEN-tuss], additional meanings: wonder, surprise, a wonderful thing

alltacht [AWL-tukht], additional meanings: wildness (as in a wild beast), amazement (not as widely used as “iontas,” i mo thaithí féin, ar a laghad)

Bhuel, tá súil agam gur chuir tú suim sna nótaí sin (agus nár chuir tú neamhshuim ann!) agus go dtaitníonn an pictiúr leat.  SGF — Róislín

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