Irish Language Blog

Na Ceithre Shéasúr (The Four Seasons, in Gaeilge) Posted by on Sep 30, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Before completely leaving an féilire, the subject of the last four blogs, let’s take a look at the Irish words for the four seasons.  In addition, we’ll look at the adjectives pertaining to winter, spring, summer, and autumn/fall, both in their classy Latinate versions, like “(a)estival,” and in the more everyday tone, like “summery.”

Seo na séasúir, mar ainmfhocail:

geimhreadh, winter; an geimhreadh, the winter [GEV-ruh or GEV-roo or GEER-uh, depending on, you guessed it, canúint (dialect)]

earrach, spring; an t-earrach, the spring, an tEarrach, with no fleiscín, when capitalized [AR-ukh]

samhradh, summer; an samhradh, the summer [SOW-ruh or SOW-roo]

fómhar, autumn, fall, harvest-time; an fómhar, the autumn, the fall, the harvest-time [FOH-wirzh]

Irish tends to just use one core concept or word-root to make the adjective based on the season (like “geimhr-” for both “hibernal” and “wintry”) unlike English which applies at least two different core concepts for different contexts (“vernal equinox” but “spring chicken”).  Actually looking at all these words in context could take at least blag amháin eile, but I figure this is at least a start:

geimhriúil, hibernal and geimhreata, wintry (more or less interchangeable though some more exploration would be needed to be more specific)

earrachúil, vernal or springlike

samhrata, (a)estival or summery, with samhrúil as a variation (can’t say I’ve ever had much reason to use either!)

fómharach, autumnal  A related adjective, “fómharúil,” has a slightly different nuance: “pertaining to the harvest,” also, in an extended meaning, “diligent.”  “Fómharach” could also be used for “fall-like” in the American sense (hmmm, I’ll have to check on na Ceanadaigh, unless a Ceanadach on this list can fill us in on the fall vs. autumn question).  That could be, for example, for “fall-like weather,” which might be said when it’s not quite fall (or autumn) yet.  Of course that would depend on whether you use the traditional Celtic calendar, where an Fómhar consists of Lúnasa, Meán Fómhair, and Deireadh Fómhair.  Or whether you waited for cónocht an fhómhair (the autumnal equinox, or even more literally, the “co-night” of the autumn, logically enough).

For all four seasons, the actual noun can sometimes be used as an attributive adjective.  That will mean putting it in the genitive case, with an “i” inserted, as in “gaoth earraigh,” “glanadh an earraigh,” “lonnú geimhridh,” “do lá fómhair” (figuratively: your lucky day), or “cúrsa samhraidh.”

A couple of related verbs:

geimhriú: to hibernate or to “winter”

samhrú: to estivate (aestivate) or to “summer”

earrachú: to vernalize (kudos to anyone who can find a good comhthéacs for this, i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla!)

Curiously, I don’t see any basis for a verb “to autumnate” or an Irish equivalent, although there is the Latin verb, “autumnare” (to bring on or cause autumn).   Eolas ag duine ar bith ar an liosta faoi sin?

Oh, I just found a reference to “autumnalized pumpkin butter” online, but it’s one of a handful of uses of “autumnalize.”  Unusual, but sounds blasta!

Bhuel, sin é do na séasúir (the seasons)!  But not for “seasonings,” which would be “blaistithe” (from “blaistiú,” to season, cf. blas, taste, accent).  And that’s a whole different kettle of fish, and needless to say, ábhar blag eile.  SGF, Róislín

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