Irish Language Blog

Talkin’ Turkey (Go Litriúil agus Go Fíortha) Posted by on Nov 6, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

There are probably enough “turkey” idioms in English to fill many blogs, but of course, we have to keep in mind that most of these do not occur literally in Irish.  Not surprising, since the bird isn’t native to Ireland, and the Irish language has plenty of local references for speaking go meafarach.  Just to touch the tip of that Irishly metaphoric iceberg, we could talk about being “idir dhá thine Bhealtaine” or warning someone that “Is fada ón luaith an bocaire,” also expressed as “Is minic a bádh long láimh le cuan” (mínithe thíos, N.B. however that to do these Irish expressions full justice would take some time in another blog)

But in the United States, i rith mhí na Samhna, as Lá Altaithe approaches (24 Mí na Samhna i mbliana), there’s lot of turkey talk, especially in advertising.  And the imreoirí ar fhocail come out of the woodwork, with turkey idioms, turkey trots (footraces, in case you’re wondering), bargains to be “gobbled up” for just a little “scratch,” etc.

So first let’s do a little mix ’n’ match of turkey terms, some having literally to do with turkeys, others simply translating English idioms into their (turkeyless) Irish equivalents.  Then we’ll consider the possibilities of turkey-trotting or trotting turkeys (trotting like a turkey?) below.  Freagraí don mheaitseáil thíos, mar is gnách:

1)      domestic turkey                                 a) tobstaonadh

2)      cold turkey (re: druganna,  srl.)       b) bultúr turcach

3)      cold turkey (the actual “feoil”)           c) turcaí clóis

4)      oven-ready turkey                           d) labhairt go neamhbhalbh [NyOW-WAL-uv]

5)      turkey vulture                                     e) turcaí inoighinn [IN-OY-in]

6)      to talk turkey                                       f) turcaí fuar

And in case you’re wondering about the “turkey trots” themselves, I was surprised to find from Wikipedia that these footraces have been held since at least 1896 (in Buffalo, New York, the oldest continually running trot, hmm, a continually running trot – well that’s leithleachas an Bhéarla duit).  While it’s easy enough (well, fairly easy) to translate the word “trot” itself into Irish, I’m not sure that translating “turkey trot,” as such, is much of a concern in Irish.  But minimally, having now perhaps piqued your curiosity, I will note that there are at least three words for “trot” in Irish (and that’s the literal “trot,” as a motion, not including “trot” as slang for a “crib”/“pony” nor the other slang or archaic meanings of “trot,” such as a “small child” or an “old woman” (Dame Trot?), not to mention the plural, “trots”!).  Seo iad:

sodar (noun): a trot, the act of trotting, which, btw, shows up in some of the expressions for being in a hurry: de shodar, faoi shodar

sodaráil [SUD-ur-aw-il], act of trotting

sodarnaíl [SUD-ur-neel, remember that “-aí-” tweak we recently discussed, as opposed to the more widely-used “-ái-“ as seen in “sodaráil”].  This also means the “act of trotting,” but a little more with the implication of bustling or even gadding about (ag sodarnaíl thart, srl.)

The distinction between “sodaráil” and “sodarnaíl” is subtle, and to some extent the words are interchangeable.  However, of the examples I find, “sodaráil” has more literally to do with trotting out a horse.  In other words, it seems to be a more specifically equestrian term.

So, in theory, we could discuss “sodar an turcaí,” or just “sodar turcaí,” or even “turcaithe ag sodaráil” or “turcaithe ag sodarnaíl” but I doubt it would have much ábharthacht (bainteacht) leis an saol sa Ghaeltacht.

Goile agat fós?  Nó fonn sodarála (nó fonn sodarnaíola) ort? SGF, Róislín

Gluais: clós, enclosure, yard, as in a farmyard; feoil, meat; fíortha, figurative; fonn, desire; goile, appetite, stomach; imreoir ar fhocail, punster, lit. player on words; leithleachas, idiosyncrasy; meafarach, metaphorical (go meafarach, metaphorically); neamhbhalbh, plain, blunt, lit. “non-inarticulate” (!); saol, life; staonadh, abstention

Freagraí: 1c, 2a, 3f, 4e, 5b, 6d

Mínithe na bhFrásaí in Alt a hAon (Frásaí Traidisiúnta Gaeilge):

a bheith idir dhá thine Bhealtaine, to be in a dilemma, lit. to be between two May Day fires (referring to the custom of driving cattle between two bonfires on this day)

Is fada ón luaith an bocaire, equivalent to “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, but lit. “the small cake (muffin) is far from the ashes.” De réir Myles na gCopaleen, there’s nothing níos Gaelaí ná an luaith (aka an luaithreach, or as Myles tends to say, “an gríosach,” and to all of which we could add, “an luaithghríosach,” which is hot ashes, as if “gríosach” for “hot ashes” isn’t enough of a word)

Is minic a bádh long láimh le cuan, also considered equivalent to “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip,” lit. “It’s often a ship was sunk near the port/bay.”

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