Irish Language Blog

Time Is of the Essence, except for “Eadra” and its Cohorts Posted by on Apr 30, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Thinking further about all the “time” words we’ve recently discussed, another thought struck me, with interesting vocabulary implications.  The following terms use the “-time” suffix in English, but not in Irish.

Daytime: there are several ways to express this, none using “-time” as such: an lá (as a noun) and, for “in the daytime, “sa lá,” “i rith an lae” (with the tuiseal ginideach), and “isló” (a bit literary, perhaps dated, but still in use)

Night-time: like “daytime,” we have the same basic idea, “oíche,” for both “night” and “night-time,” and similar prepositional phrases, with “san oíche” or “istoíche” for “at night-time,” and “d’oíche” or “de shiúl oíche” for “in the night-time.”

For the four seasons, we can either use just the basic noun, or add “ráithe” (three-month period, season, quarter), which means we also switch to the genitive case.  None of the words for seasons typically take any of the usual Irish “time” words as a suffix or to make a compound word as such.

Springtime: “an tEarrach,” with “san earrach” for “in the spring(time).”  Less commonly, we have “ráithe an earraigh” [… un YAR-ee]  with a total of 6 Google hits.  For “san earrach,” though, we have at least 620 hits, with ca. 17,600 before duplicates, etc. are eliminated.  A substantial difference either way!

Summertime: usually just “an Samhradh.”  There is also the phrase “ráithe an tsamhraidh” [… un TOW-ree].  Total hits online for “ráithe an tsamhraidh” – four!  For “sa samhradh,” about 609, out of 11,600 (before sorting out the duplicates).  Plus another 554 for the Northern dialect version, “sa tsamhradh” [suh TOW-roo] (out of 1,770 before sorting)

Wintertime: “an Geimhreadh,” with occasional use of “ráithe an gheimhridh” [… un YEV-ree].  Total hits for the latter?  Eight, including four duplicates, so five, really, in, erm, essence.  Simply using “sa,” we have two variant phrases to track: “sa ngeimhreadh: gives us 158 (out of 637 pre-sorting) and “sa gheimhreadh,” which yields 469 (out of about 13,100 pre-sorting)

But no “fall-time” or “autumn-time,” i mBéarlaDiabhal a fhios agam cén fáth!  Irish, though, more consistently has occasional uses (trí amas ar líne, sin an méid) of “ráithe an fhómhair.”  That comes from “Fómhar” (autumn, fall, harvest).   “In the fall/autumn” gives us 629 hits for “san fhómhar” (out of ca. 7750 pre-sorting) and 449 for “sa bhfómhar” (out of ca. 2580).

Clearly the phrases with “sa” are more widely used than the phrases with “ráithe.”  Not that these Google searches are absolute, and they will also change constantly, but they do establish a pattern – that including the element of “time” is just not that critical for these “season” terms.

A final interesting word in this regard is “eadra,” which has fascinated me since I first learned it.  “Eadra” means “late morning milking time,” “the time spent by cattle as they wait to be milked” (hmm, are they aware they’ve got their own word for this?), or, in an even further extension, “late morning” (without milking),“dinner-time,” “noon,” or “an idle interval.”  The word “” (cow) can be added for clarity but the term is understood without it.

Somewhat contradicting my general point in this blog, about “time” words without the “time” element, we do also have “eadarlinn” (milking-time) or “eadarlinn na mbó,” where “linn”   has been added, a slight spelling change (“-ra” to “-ar”) has been made, and we now have a time-related suffix.  The exception that makes the rule?  BTW, this is “linn” (period of time), not the familiar “linn” meaning “with us;” the words are completely different.

Here’s an intriguing seanfhocal to wrap up the “eadra” discussion, “Déanann na ba seasca féin an t-eadra” (even dry cows take advantage of the milking-time rest).

That “seasca” in the proverb (as in “na ba seasca“) is the plural of “seasc” (infertile, unfruitful, dry re: cows).  Nothing to do with the other word “seasca” (60), in case you were wondering.  Another use of this “seasc,” and a great word for your next Irish-medium eco-cocktail party is “corr sheasc” (a sand-eel without milt or roe).  Just what I was planning to talk about with my friends tonight.

BTW, considering the title of today’s blogpost, I hunted around online and on the printed page for an exact equivalent to “Time is of the essence.”  I didn’t find any word-for-word translation (ní nach ionadh), that is, nothing that actually included the word “eisint” or “bunbhrí” or “éirim” (not “éirím,” the verb, with the “i-fada” in the second syllable, meaning “I get up, etc.,” but “éirim,” the noun, with two short i’s).  But I did find two interesting results.  Someone writing on contributed the following “Ní tráth moille é, based on “This is no time for delay.”  (’time_is_of_the_essence’, which works as expressing the same basic sentiment.  And more formally speaking, I found the phrase “am ina bhuntréith sa chonradh” for “time of the essence of the contract.”  Literally, it means “time in its ‘essential quality’ in the contract.”  You may know “conradh” from “Conradh na Gaeilge,” where it means “league,” but it also means “contract, agreement, or treaty.”

Bhuel, sin é don bhlag seo agus tá súil agam nach am amú é.  SGF, Róislín 

Gluaisín: amú, astray; diabhal a fhios agam, lit. “divil” a bit of its knowledge (is) at me, i.e. I haven’t got a clue; na mbó, of the cows; ní nach ionadh, not a a surprise, not surprisingly;

PS1 (10 Eanáir 2017) Maidir leis an bhfrása “ar líne” (online).  It can, of course, also mean “on a line” for the relatively rare times we might say that (b’fhéidir: “There’s a speck of dust on that line and it will show up on the photograph).   Fad m’eolais, ní chiallaíonn an frása Gaeilge “ar líne” riamh “on line,” an frása “*Nua-Eabhraicise” a úsáidtear nuair a bhíonn daoine ag fanacht i líne (.i. ag ciúáil) mar a bheadh san abairt, “On May 13, 2013, we waited on line for some cronuts and it really was worth it.” Yo! New Yorkers take their line-waiting seriously, as you can see from these articles, if you care to pursue: (October 2, 2015) and (Get Paid to Stand in Line: Make $25 an Hour as a Professional Line Sitter (November 17, 2016)

PS2 (10 Eanáir 2017) Gluaisín fíorbheag do PS1: *Nua-Eabhraicis, focal a chum mé do “New-Yorkese,” .i. canúint Bhéarla mhuintir Nua-Eabhrac; Nua-Eabhraicise, of New Yorkese

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