Irish Language Blog

The Parameters of ‘Pudding’ (Putóg et al.) Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

So I thought I had the parameters of pudding pretty well parsed (putóg, maróg, milseog, all potentially in contrast to “custard,” a word borrowed as is from English), when I chanced upon yet another bit of “pudding” vocabulary.  I’ll leave it for a bit of cliff-hanger at the end of this blog.

Where to begin?

I think the Irish language learner is most likely to encounter “putóg” first, since it’s often part of the typical Irish B & B breakfast.  Yes (do dhaoine ó Mheiriceá Thuaidh atá fiosrach faoi “pudding” mar chuid den bhricfeasta), pudding for breakfast.  There are two types of puddings served at breakfast, black pudding (putóg dhubh) and white pudding (putóg bhán).  And no, they have nothing to do with “seacláid” and “fanaile.”   Both are more or less like sausage, although sausages, as such, are “ispíní.”  “Black pudding” can also be described as “blood sausage,” although the term “blood sausage” is not generally used in the UK or Ireland for the native product.  The main ingredients of “white pudding” (putóg bhán) are pork scraps, suet, bread, and oatmeal, fitted into a sausage casing.  Both are usually fried and served with the “bricfeasta traidisiúnta.”

Next, I think the typical learner would encounter the word “milseog” (pudding as “dessert” in general, not used in American English; as for Canadian — níl a fhios agam, Ceanadach ar bith anseo?).  I seem to recall learning words like “uachtar reoite,” “pióg,” and “císte” before actually learning the general word for these kinds of sweet foods.   Most Americans would simply translate “milseog” as “dessert,” not “pudding.”  But in various Irish textbooks (as well as in real life, we hope), we see menus in Irish, with “milseoga” as a category, sometimes translated as “pudding.”  Most of the desserts I recall seeing are not actual “puddings” as such; more likely they are cístí, pióga, toirtíní, or uachtar reoite.

American learners of Irish should always keep in mind that you may be offered soft-boiled eggs (uibheacha bogbhruite) for your “tea” and “cake” for your “pudding.”  Ní hionann an Béarla ar gach taobh den “lochán”!

In general, I think kids tend to learn the specific items before starting to learn generic or umbrella terms.  So it seems natural for adults to also learn some of the specific items before learning the general term.    Hmm, ábhar smaointe ansin, is dócha.

I see virtually no use of the word “milseog” to indicate particular flavors or types of sweet puddings, so I think we can safely leave it as “dessert” (or “pudding” in the UK/Irish English sense).

Third in my list is “maróg,” usually used for sweet puddings and typically described with different styles.  Here are some of the typical flavors or types:

maróg aráin agus ime

maróg shamhraidh

maróg anlann taifí

maróg ríse

maróg Nollag (note the use of the genitive case of “Nollaig,” marked by the letter “i” being removed)

maróg rísíní

maróg bhiabhóige — what a fun word to say: MAHR-ohg VEE-uh-WOH-ig-yuh!

maróg gheire — dunno about this one, I always thought suet was more for birds.  How to pronounce it, regardless?  “YERzh-uh,” with  the “g” completely silent.

maróg úll na hEilvéise — hmmm, are the “apples” Swiss or is the pudding recipe “Swiss”?  And for that matter, are “Swiss rolls” any more Swiss than “danishes” are Danish?

And then, to top it all off, there’s “scoth na maróg” (the queen of puddings), using not the ordinary word for queen (banríon) but “scoth,” an intriguing word whose meanings include “flower” and “blossom” on the physical side and “pick,” “choice,” or the “best of ,” on the more figurative side.  A “scothscéil” is a top-notch story.”  But a “scothchapall” is a medium-sized horse.  Ah, well, is iontach an teanga í!

Even this distinction of maróg vs. putóg seems to have come about relatively recently (which could be one or two hundred years ago), because the earliest versions of “maróg,” sometimes spelled “maróc” indicate a sausage, not a sweet dish.  And it can be a savoury dish, such as “maróg stéige agus duáin.”

Again, Americans might want to note that it’s only relatively recently that I’ve seen many references to “maróg sheacláide” in Irish, and so far none for “líomóid,” “imreog” (hint: based on the word “im,” butter) or “piostáis.”  Let alone “fluffernutter.”  Speaking of “fluffernutter,” I couldn’t resist passing on the fact that the “Pudding Shots” Facebook page has a recipe for “fluffernutter pudding” made with “vodca” (I bet you figured that out what that Irish word means).  Itear reoite iad –is é sin a rá ní óltar iad.  I’m a bit puzzled because the “oideas” (recipe) specifies “peanut butter vodka” and “marshmallow vodka,” agus níl a fhios agam cé na cineálacha vodca iad sin ar chor ar bith.  An bhfuil a fhios agatsa?  Ar aon chaoi, má tá suim agat ann, seo an nasc:

And anyway, back to more typical puddings, there’s also “Yorkshire pudding,” which seems to be “maróg” (.i. maróg Yorkshire) wherever I see it, even though it’s quite different from a sweet dessert.  As you probably know, it’s more pastry-like, resembling an American “popover,” and is typically served with roast beef.  “Yorkshire” stays the same in Irish, although there is an Irish word for “shire” (sír) and we do have “Eabhrac,” at least historically for the city of York (Eboracum and all that!).   So we have Yorkshire Theas, Yorkshire Thiar, and Yorkshire Thuaidh, as well as “gleanntáin Yorkshire” agus “brocairí Yorkshire.”   “Yorkshire-fog” though, isn’t actually named after Yorkshire in Irish, it’s called “féar an chinn bháin” (white-headed grass), akin to one of the alternate names of this plant, “tufted grass.”

And our final “pudding ” word, so we can put paid to this topics, is < drum roll > … inreachtán ‘Sea,  inreachtán.   It’s a sausage-type pudding and so far the only literary reference I see to it is in Aislinge Meic Con Glinne, in Middle Irish.  But somehow the word has made it into modern dictionaries (20th-century ones, at least), so presumably it has some relevance for our times.

Oh, and there’s also an inedible pudding out there, too, a nautical term (nautical terminology being a wonder unto itself).  That’s a protective padding made of ropes and used to prevent scraping against other vessels of jetties.  In Irish it’s “adhartán,” which also means cushion.  Hmm, perhaps calling it “pudding” is a variation of “padding”?

And then there are some pudding-like desserts that we don’t have time to discuss here: custard, traidhfil chustaird, crème brulée, and custard caramail, not to mention getting into “mousse,” which can be “mús” in Irish or remain in the original French, “mousse.”  Or desserts like “spíonánach,” “gruthrach,” and “crannachan,” the last being more Scottish than Irish, but of the same tradition.  Bhuel, tá an blag seo ag cur ocrais orm.  This blog is, dare I say it, “pudding” hunger on me, so I guess I’ll have to stop for now.  As for the “proof,” sin ábhar blag eile!  Or maybe it’s in those alcoholic “pudding shots”!  SGF – Róislín

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