Irish Language Blog

‘Sceamhóg’ vs. ‘Scamhóg” in Irish (and for good measure ‘sceallóg’ and ‘scailleog’) Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

While working on the most recent blogs, on prátaí, (naisc thíos), I noticed an interesting coincidence about the pronunciation of some Irish words.  Last time, we talked extensively about words for “chips”, which included “sceamhóg” (flake, chip, slice).  In today’s post, we’ll look at a similar-sounding word, “scamhóg,” which has a completely different meaning.

And for good measure, we’ll revisit sceallóg (chips, french fries), this time contrasted with the pronunciation and meaning of “scailleog,” admittedly a much less widely used word in Irish.  So, altogether, we’ll look at sceamhóg, scamhóg, scailleog and sceallóg, in that order.

To recap “sceamhóg” from our last post, it means flake, chip or slice, and is especially used with regard to paint or rust  (sceamhóg phéinte, sceamhóg mheirge) and for bread (sceamhóg aráin). But it doesn’t tend to be used, at least not to any major extent, for potatoes.  In pronouncing this word, remember the “SC” is slender, so it’s like “SHK” would be in English, the hitch being that almost nothing starts with “SHK” in English.  We do find it medially in “babushka,” but there the pronunciation is split between two syllables (bush + ka).  No big deal, though, the main thing is that  it’s “SH” + “K,” not “S” + “K” (which we’d have in “ski” or “ska,” or “Alaska”).  In Irish, of course, it’s the same “SC-” sound as in “scian” or “scioból.”  Its forms are:

an sceamhóg, the flake, etc.

na sceamhóige, of the flake, etc.

na sceamhóga, the flakes, etc.

na sceamhóg, of the flakes

Did you spot the flakes of paint in the graphic?  They’re on the side of the boat in the middle, hopefully looking convincingly added but also hopefully blending in.

Next we have the Irish word for “lung” and some of its forms:

an scamhóg, the lung

na scamhóige, of the lung

na scamhóga, the lungs

na scamhóg, of the lungs

Remember in pronunciation, this “SC-” is broad, unlike “sceamhóg,” where it was an “SHK-” sound.  So the -sound for “scamhóg” is “SKA-” (not “SHKA-“), as in Irish “scannán” or “scamall,” or English “scald” or “scar.”

Did you spot the scamhóga in the graphic?  If not, they next to the image of the dia gaoithe (wind god).

Now let’s look at another pair of words with a similar alternaton in the “SC-” sound.  This pair also has an alternation in the “L” sound, with the double-L of “scailleog” being pronounced slender and the double-L of “sceallóg” pronounced broad.

So, starting with “scailleog,” the broad “SC” sound as in English “scam” or “scoot.”   The double L is a lot like the double L in “million” and the “E” and the “O” combine to form one single long “O” sound.  It means “splashing wave” or “chop” (referring to waves), or alternatively if you will, “a splash” or “a chopping wave. ” Not a little splashing sound like in a bath tub, though (that could be a “splais“) and not a small amount of liquid for drinking or for cooking, as in a splash of whiskey in the coffee — that could be a “steall” or a “steallóg”  (or simply a “braon“). This word can also be spelled scaileog.

Maidir leis an bpictiúr, is dócha go bhfuil sé soiléir go leor cén áit a bhfuil na scailleoga!

Of course, “tonnta” is a more widely used word for “waves,” but that wouldn’t have fit our sets of contrasting pairs.  However, for good measure, here are some of the forms for “tonn“:

an tonn, the wave

na toinne, of the wave

na tonnta, the waves

na dtonnta, which is more or less standard, and shows up in the song, “Trasna na dTonnta” OR “na dtonn“, in certain phrases, such as “rolladh na dtonn,”  the song title, “Gaoth Barra na dTonn,” or the book title Toraigh na dTonn.

In contrast to “scailleog,” with its broad “S” and slender “L’s,” our contrasting word is the familiar “sceallóg,” (chips, French fries) with the slender “SC-” and the broad “Ls” so pretty much the opposite of the pronunciation pattern of “scailleog.”

An bhfaca tú na sceallóga sa phictiúr?  Tá siad an-bheag ach tá dath dearg ar an gcoimeádán, cineál feiceálach le hais an chúlionaid bhéasa agus le suntasacht an datha ghoirm sa phictiúr.

So, with all of that under our belts, I would love to find out how the French company Scallog® got its name.  It looks Celtic but that may be sheer coincidence.  Eolas ag duine ar bith anseo?  And I’d love to get one of their attractive blue and white t-shirts and add an appliquéd letter “e” to it and an appliquéd fada for the “o.”  An appliquéd fada?  Probably the first time that expression has been used!  Mh’anam, what uncharted linguistic territory this blog takes us to!

If anyone wants to pursue how Scallog got its name, here’s what else I can tell you.  Their logo also includes the phrase “scalable logistics” (which would be “lóistíocht inscálaithe” in Irish — but don’t ask me what it really means mar ní thuigim fiú an Béarla).  I thought “scalable” had to do with mountainsides but now it has to do with “próiseáil chomhuaineach” (parallel processing) and Grafaic Veicteoireach (Vector Graphics).  Bhuel, sin an saol a bhfuil muid inár gcónaí ann anois ach, ar ndóigh, maireann roinnt rudaí, mar shaothar ealaíne Hokusai.

Hope you found this both fun and informative.  Cén t-ábhar a bheas againn sa chéad bhlagmhír eile?  Níl mé cinnte fós ach b’fhéidir “Taibhse Oiwa” (The Ghost of Oiwa)? That’s another Hokusai work, based on the same ghost legend that has inspired a 19th-century Kabuki play which, in turn, has been filmed over 30 times.  Pé scéal é, SGF – Róislín

nasc: Not just ‘bruite’ — some Irish terms for preparing potatoesPosted by on May 6, 2017 in Irish Language

Speaking of Spuds: Sceallóga (Prátaí) and Sceallóga Eile (Irish Words for Chips, Potato and Otherwise)Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Irish Language

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