Irish Language Blog

Na Míonna, Na Mìosan, Ny Meeghyn (in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx), Cuid 2 as 4 Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In this blog, we’ll look more closely at the meanings of the Manx Gaelic names for the months and see what their names mean in Irish.  For those who want an Béarla, that will also be provided i gcairt eile (thíos).  It’s suimiúil to note how readily translatable the Manx names are into Irish, and if you say them out loud, they’ll sound a lot like Irish (or Scottish Gaelic).  It’s just the spelling system that’s dramatically different.  But that’s not really surprising, given that the Manx spelling system is not an offshoot of traditional Gaelic spelling, which gives us pairs like Irish “fuinneog” and “” and Scottish “uinneag” and “tha.”  The Manx spelling system, in contrast, was devised more or less singlehandedly and is credited to John Phillips (ca. 1555-1633), the Welsh-born Anglican Bishop of (the diocese of) Sodor and Man.  His system was based primarily on the orthography of English, with some influence from Welsh as well.

As for “Sodor,” if it sounds children’s-book familiar, the name was used for the island setting of the Thomas the Tank Engine series by their author, the Reverend Wilbert Vere Awbrey (1911-1997).  It was a fictitious island, so Reverend Awbrey was free to develop the location as he wished.  But he took the name from the Old Norse “Suðreyjar,” (Southern Islands), which got anglicized first as the “Sudreys” and later as “Sodor.”  This was part of the “Kingdom of Mann and the Isles,” including the Outer Hebrides, governed in medieval times by Norway. The designation “Sodor and Man” is still in use and Robert Mar Erskine Paterson, MLC, currently holds the title of Bishop of Sodor and Man.

And back to the nitty-gritty.  As you’ll see, in most cases, the Manx word isn’t the same concept as the Irish.  But anyone moderately fluent in Irish will recognize the logic of the names (“Jerrey Geuree” means “Deireadh Geimhridh,” i.e. “end of winter,” etc.).   I’ve given a pronunciation guide for the Irish translations as well – this is where you can really see the similarities between Irish and Manx sounds.   If you read the Gaelg column and the Fuaimniú (pronunciation) column out loud, you’ll see what I mean.

As before, the second Gaelg column presents some alternate names for the months.

Gaeilge Gaelg Aistriúchán (go Gaeilge) Fuaimniú (Gaeilge) Gaelg (alt.) Aistriúchán (go Gaeilge) Fuaimniú (Gaeilge)
Eanáir Jerrey Geuree deireadh geimhridh DJERzh-uh Giv-ree
Feabhra Toshiaght Arree tosach earraigh TUSS-ukh   AR-ee
Márta Y Mart OR Mayrnt (an) márta Un MAWR-tuh Mean Arree meán earraigh myawn AR-ee
Aibreán Averil Aibreán AB-rzhawn Jerrey Arree deireadh earraigh DJERzh-uh AR-ee
Bealtaine Y Voaldyn an Bhealtaine Un VAL-tin-yuh Toshiaght Souree tosach samhraidh TUSS-ukh SOW-ree
Meitheamh Mean Souree meán samhraidh Myawn SOW-ree
Iúil Jerrey Souree deireadh samhraidh DJERzh-uh SOW-ree Mee Vuigh mí bhuí Mee vee (OR wee)
Lúnasa Luanistyn Lúnasa LOO-nuh-suh Toshiaght Fouyir tosach fómhair TUSS-ukh FOH-irzh
Meán Fómhair Mean Fouyir meán fómhair Myawn FOH-irzh
Deireadh Fómhair Jerrey Fouyir deireadh fómhair DJERzh-uh FOH-irzh
Mí na Samh-na Mee Houney mí Shamhna [sic] Mee HOW-nuh Toshiaght Gheuree tosach geimh-ridh TUSS-ukh YEV-ree
Mí na Nollag Mee ny Nollick mí na Nollag Mee nuh NOL-uk

So what do these Manx phrases mean?  Many of them follow a pattern of “beginning of (season),” “middle of (season),” and “end of (season).  The translation to Irish is given above, but here’s the English:

Gaelg Aistriúchán Béarla Gaelg (alt.) Aistriúchán Béarla
Jerrey Geuree deireadh geimhridh end of winter
Toshiaght Arree tosach earraigh beginning of spring
Y Mart OR Mayrnt (an) Márta March Mean Arree meán earraigh middle of spring
Averil Aibreán April Jerrey Arree deireadh earraigh end of spring
Y Voaldyn an Bhealtaine May Toshiaght Souree tosach samhraidh beginning of summer
Mean Souree meán samhraidh middle of summer
Jerrey Souree deireadh samhraidh end of summer Mee Vuigh mí bhuí yellow month
Luanistyn Lúnasa August Toshiaght Fouyir tosach fómhair beginning of harvest
Mean Fouyir meán fómhair middle of harvest
Jerrey Fouyir deireadh fómhair end of harvest
Mee Houney mí Shamhna [sic] month of Samhain Toshiaght Gheuree tosach geimhridh beginning of winter
Mee ny Nollick mí na Nollag month of Christmas

Just as a reminder, the Irish given in the “aistriúchán” (translation) column isn’t the actual month name in Irish, it’s just a translation of what the Manx words mean.

Next blog, maybe we’ll look at the Scottish Gaelic terms and their literal meanings.  SGF, Róislín

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