Irish Language Blog

Samplaí an fhocail ‘samhradh’ in alt le Liam Ó Muirthile san Irish Times Posted by on Jul 22, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Now that we’ve worked our way through the various forms of the word “samhradh” (summer) in a recent blogpost (nasc thíos), let’s enjoy them in the article “Saoirí Samhraidh,” in the column “An Peann Coitianta” (by Liam Ó Muirthile), published in The Irish Times (14 August 2002).

roinnt foirmeacha an fhocail samhradh WordArt le Róislín)

roinnt foirmeacha an fhocail ‘samhradh’ (WordArt le Róislín)

Here’s a link for the article, so you might want to open it up to have it side by side with this blogpost:  Even though it’s from 2002, I still think it makes timely reading.

I found four different forms of the word “samhradh” in the article, so it’s good reinforcement of our recent discussion.  Of course, in the last blogpost, we looked at nine forms of the word “samhradh,” but four is pretty good for one relatively short article.  I was especially glad to see the plural since it doesn’t seem to come up as often as the various singular forms.

First we have the title phrase itself, “saoirí samhraidh.”  With the “-idh” ending, the meaning is “of summer,” i.e. “holidays of summer.”  In typical English word order, we’d probably just say, “Summer Holidays” or “Summer Vacations.”

Then we have the standard form, in the opening sentence, “Baineann an samhradh an déagóir amach ionam … ”

In the phrase “caidreamh éasca an tsamhraidh,” we have the tuiseal ginideach form, with the phrase meaning “the easy companionship/company of the summer.”  Remember the pronunciation of “an tsamhraidh“?  Like “un TOW-ree,” with “tow” like “cow” (as long as it’s not the traditional Scots pronunciation, which may be more like “coo”).  The “s” has become silent.  We also see this form in the phrase “hit an tsamhraidh.”

And finally, we have the plural, as in ” Thugamar samhraí ag tabhairt na gcos linn … .”

By the way, this really is a fun article to read.  Not only does it reinforce the grammar points we looked at in the last blogpost, making it a shoo-in for discussion here, but it also has lots of references to the popular culture of the author’s adolescence.  So we have a lot of internationally known words and phrases, which are easily recognizable in an Irish context: na Stones, na Beatles, srl.  Plus it shows a great range of vocabulary, as we would expect from poet, playwright, essaying, novelist, and general wordsmith Ó Muirthile.  Examples range from “Windeálamar suas” to “ag tabhairt na gcos linn.”

One other nice language point about the “An Peann Coitianta” article is that we see the plural of “saoire” (vacation).  As you may already know, there are many ways to create the plurals of Irish nouns, depending on their root and on dialect variation, so it’s always good to see some of the less-typically-used ones in a natural context, not just in a paradigm chart.

One reason we don’t usually see “saoire” in the plural is that often it’s the word “” (day) that becomes plural.  So “lá saoire” (holiday) becomes “laethe saoire” or “laethanta saoire” (both meaning “holidays”).  Both “laethe” and laethanta” are widely used.  It is interesting to note that, in English, “holiday” (singular) is typically a specific day, usually either religious, political or “bank.” “Holidays” (plural) is usually used for one’s personal vacation in Irish and British English; “vacation” in American English.  A Cheanadacha — cé acu is fearr libhse? 

Of course, these days, with economic and security concerns, a lot of people are doing “staycations,” for which I don’t see any Irish yet.  Would it be “*fansaoire” (ar fansaoire?) or “saoire fanachta” (ar saoire fanachta?).  Or some other portmanteau?  At first I thought “staycation” was strictly an American word, and probably an ephemeral one at that, resulting from “cúlú 2008.”  A little further research shows the word emerged before that recession, between 2003 and 2005.  Recently I’ve seen in advertisements in British publications — can’t say I’ve noticed yet for Irish (English-medium) publications but that doesn’t mean it’s not in use.  Other variations are “daycation” (is that really much different from “day-tripping,” or for that matter, “lá saoire” taken literally?) and “holistay,” which I imagine is more UK than US.

Apparently Sualainnis has found a portmanteau for the concept, “hemester” (“hemma, home + semester, vacation”).   BTW, I don’t speak “Sualainnis,” but checked the meanings of “hemma” and “semester” online.  In case you’re wondering, as I was, the focal Sualainnise “semester” apparently means “vacation,” and “semester” in the English sense (a university term, etc.) apparently is “termin.”  Interesting how words can go full circle!  Any further clarification from cainteoirí Sualainnise would be welcome.  Cén teanga í an tSualainnis?  Freagra thíos!  

How about portmanteaus for ‘staycation’ in any other language spoken by readers here?  Samplaí ar bith eile?   Bheadh sé go deas cluinstin uait — Róislín

Nasc: The Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of ‘an tSamhraidh’ — how to say ‘summer’ in Irish Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Irish Language

BTW, the phrase “An Peann Coitianta” is a good example of issues in translating straight from dictionaries.  The most common definition of “coitianta” that most learners encounter is, actually, “common.”  But, I’ve seen this column referred to in English as “The Common Pen,”  “The Popular Pen” and “The Constant Pen,” each of which, to me at least, seems to have quite a different nuance to it.  I wonder which translation its author (Ó Muirthile) prefers.  Maybe someone reading this article knows him and could find out.  Of course, mostly I like to just think of it as he originally presents it, in Irish, “An Peann Coitianta.”  But what if I wanted to translate it into, say, Welsh.   Would it be “cyffredin” or “poblogaidd” or “cyson” — or “rhywbeth arall“?  Or in Gaelic (Gàidhlig), would it be “cumanta” or “mòr-chòrdte” (or “measail” or “bitheanta“) or “cunbhalach”  or “rudeigin eile.”  Freagra ag duine ar bith?

Freagra: Sualainnis, Swedish

Gluais: a Cheanadacha, Canadians — in direct address; coitianta, common, popular, agus a bhuí le Dennis D., quotidian; hit, a hit, as in a “hit song”;

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  1. Dennis Delany:

    Regarding the word ‘cuitianta’ it is cognate with qoutidien in French and ‘cotidiano’ in Spanish, which both mean ‘daily’. From Latin, of course.

    • róislín:

      @Dennis Delany An-suimiúil, a Dennis. Go raibh maith agat!

    • JP JP:

      @Dennis Delany ‘Bíonn sé ar an bpeann coitianta’, he’d be always pen pushing/writing.’
      ‘cromtha ar an bpeann’ nó ‘cromtha os cionn pinn’ is dócha….
      coitianta= go minic….
      Amhrán deas: ‘Thugamar féin an samhradh linn’

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