Irish Language Blog

Na Míonna, Na Mìosan, Ny Meeghyn (in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx), Cuid 1 as 4 Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Inspired by the last blog, I thought it would be interesting to create a chart showing the months of the year in the three Gaelic languages (Irish, Scottish, Manx).  This will show us which ones are based on the same concept (like Irish Lúnasa and Scottish Gaelic Lùnastal) and which ones aren’t (like Deireadh Fómhair and Dàmhair).  For the Irish ones, at least, I’ll provide some pronunciation tips as well, and a few background notes.

Gaeilge Fuaimniú Nótaí Gàidhlig Gaelg Gaelg (alt.)
Eanáir AN-aw-irzh Ianuarius (Laidin) am Faoilleach Jerrey Geuree  
Feabhra FYOW-ruh Februarius (Laidin) an Gearran Toshiaght Arree  
Márta MAWR-tuh Martius (Laidin) am Màrt Y Mart OR Mayrnt Mean Arree
Aibreán AB-rzhawn Aprilis (Laidin) a’ Ghiblinn Averil Jerrey Arree
Bealtaine BAL-tin-yuh Sean-Ghaeilge an Cèitean OR    a’ Mhàigh Y Voaldyn Toshiaght Souree
Meitheamh MEH-huv meitheamh an t-Ògmhios Mean Souree  
Iúil YOO-il Iulius (Laidin) an t-Iuchar Jerrey Souree Mee Vuigh
Lúnasa LOO-nuh-suh Seanlitriú: Lughnasa an Lùnastal Luanistyn Toshiaght Fouyir
Meán Fómhair MYAWN FOH-irzh “middle of harvest” an t-Sultainn Mean Fouyir  
Deireadh Fómhair DJERzh-uh FOH-irzh “end of harvest” an Dàmhair Jerrey Fouyir  
Mí na Samhna Mee nuh SOW-nuh An tSamhain an t-Samhainn Mee Houney Toshiaght Gheuree
Mí na Nollag Mee nuh NOL-uk An Nollaig an Dùdlachd Mee ny Nollick  


A. Nóta ginearálta: The Scottish Gaelic months seem to be routinely given with the definite article (an, am, or a’), so I’ve done the same.  In Irish, the definite article would typically apply when we say “month of (month’s name),” but isn’t usually included in the most basic form of the month’s name, so I’ve left it off.  Below I’ve given some variations for the Scottish versions and in the chart I’ve included a column of alternate names for some of the Manx terms.  An embarrassment of riches!

B. Pronunciation notes to the pronunciation notes (!), for Irish:

1. Feabhra [FYOW-ruh], the “f” is like English “few” or “feudal” (not like “food); the “bh” is essentially silent but does convert the “-ea-” to an “ow” sound as in “cow” or “now” (though not the Scottish pronunciation of “cow” or “now,” which may be more like “coo” or “noo”).

2. Bealtaine has three syllables [BAL-tin-yuh], with the final “e” pronounced as an unstressed “uh” sound (as in “fun” or the “-a” in “sofa”).  The anglicized form of this word, usually spelled “Beltane,” is pronounced with two syllable, following English pronunciation rules [bel-tayn], with the “tayn” rhyming with “main” or “train.”  Why don’t I write it as “-ai-” then in the pronunciation guide?  To me it seems too ambiguous since /ai/ in IPA is the vowel sound in “like” and “ai” in Irish is basically “ah.”

3. Meitheamh [MEH-huv]: the “t” is silent since it’s lenited.  The final “-mh” is typically pronounced as a “v,” although it could be more of an “oo” vowel sound since it’s broad.  The “-ei-” of “meith-” is basically the same as in English “met” or “end;” it’s not like German “stein” or Welsh “ei.”  “Meitheamh” is a somewhat dated word for the middle month of a season (as June is the middle of the traditional summer, which begins May 1 and ends July 31).

4. Lúnasa [LOO-nuh-suh]: I include the seanlitriú (old spelling), “Lughnasa,” for two reasons.  One is to show the connection to the Celtic god Lug (aka Lugh), for whom the month is named.  The other is that the older spelling has been kept alive by such phrases and titles as Dancing at Lughnasa, the play by Brian Friel (with a movie version starring Meryl Streep) and the “Lughnasa” festivals that have been held recently at sites such as Carrickfergus, Rathangan, and Craggaunowen (the historic crannóg site) in Co. Clare.

5. Mí na Samhna [mee nuh SOW-nuh]: the “-mh-” is basically silent but changes the “a” vowel to an “ow” sound.   This translates as “the month of an tSamhain [un TOW-in],” Samhain being the 1st of November, the Celtic New Year.

6. Mí na Nollag [mee nuh NOL-uk]: literally, “the month of Christmas.”  Here, “Nollaig” [NOL-ik], the word for “Christmas,” changes to “Nollag” (minus the “-i-“), which means “of Christmas.”

C. Scottish Gaelic alternate versions and spellings: 1) am Faoilteach, Ianuari, 2) Feabruari, 3) am Mart, 4) an Giblean, 5) an Ceitean, 6) an t-Òg-Mhios, Meadhan-Samhraidh (“middle of summer”), 7) Iuchar (without the definite article), 8.) an Lùnasdal, may also be translated as “Lammas,” 9) an t-Sultuine, also “September” as such, 10) Octòber, 11) “November” as such, 12) an Dùbhlachd, also “December” as such.

Here’s a little caveat lector for anyone prowling the Idirlíon looking for more examples of month names: several sites I looked at have made the capital “I” of “Iuchar” and/or “Iúil” into a capital “L.” There’s no logic behind this — it’s simply a misreading of the widely used sans serif typefaces.

Perhaps over the next blag nó dhó we’ll look further into the specific meanings and etymologies of the names of the months in the three languages.  Idir an dá linn, it’s interesting to note where the three overlap, and where they diverge in a major way.   SGF, Róislín

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: