Irish Language Blog

TSAGGSSL (An Gaeilge É Sin? Is That Irish?) Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Bhuel, to answer the title question, braitheann .  It depends.  You might remember “TSAGGSSL” from the last blog.  No, it’s not some permutation of “Yggdrasil” or a new companion to the smallish list of words with 8 letters but only one vowel.  Yes, there are some examples of those 8-letter wonders in languages like Béarla and Gearmáinis and perhaps i dteangacha eile (for samples, féach nóta 1 thíos).

So what is TSAGGSSL, aside from seacht gconsan agus guta amháin?  It stands for “Tá súil agam go gcuidíonn sé sin leat.”  IOW, “HTH.”  At least for most purposes, it would mean the same as “Hope this helps,” but without the edge of sarcasm that “HTH” sometimes has.  I say “for most purposes” since HTH, like many abbreviations, has more than one meaning (hand-to-hand, etc.).

And what exactly does “Tá súil agam go gcuidíonn sé sin leat” mean?  “Hope is at me that that help is with you,” in other words, “Hope this helps.”  Broken down further:

Tá                   súil      agam    go       gcuidíonn       sé         sin       leat

(there) is +       hope + at me + that +  helps +            it +       that +   with you.

“Súil,” as many of you will recognize, also has a more literal meaning, “eye.”  There is another word for hope in Irish, “dóchas,” which is usually used more abstractly, and which also shows up in the place name, “Rinn an Dóchais.”

Our “Tá súil agam …” sentence  is in the singular, addressing one person, as marked by the word “leat.”  We could also use “libh” for “with you” (plural), but the acronym would still come out the same.  For that matter, we could also substitute “againn” (at us) for “agam,” to make the wish come from more than one person (i.e. if several people helped to solve the problem).  But again, the acronym would still be the same!

Did you notice the two words “that” in the sentence?  The first one (“go”) introduces indirect statement, as in “Deirim go bhfuil sí ann,” “Chuala sé go raibh sí ann,” or “Thug sé an leabhar go raibh sí ann.”  The second one, “sin” [shin] is the demonstrative adjective, as in “an fear sin” or “an bhean sin.”  In Irish, the demonstrative adjective is often combined with pronouns (like “sé,” it), to give the sense of “this (thing)” (sé seo) or “that (thing)” (sé sin).

A few pronunciation tips: gcuidíonn [GUDJ-ee-un], eclipsed after the word “go” (that); [shay]; sin [shin]

Of course, I guess if we’re really going to acronymize “I hope that this helps you,” we could do what English does and shorten the entire concept.  In English, instead of saying “I hope that this helps you,” we reduce it to “Hope this helps.”  So if we drop the ending in Irish, we could just have “TSAGG” or even just “SAGG” – but I like having the initial “t” – tá cuma níos Gaelaí air, sílim.  Does this remind you of all those initial-ts words in Irish?  Like “(an) tsráid,” “(carr an) tsagairt,” and “(airgead an) tsliúcaiméara”?  Or a few more choice examples, like “(an) tsliosfhuinneog,” “(an) tslime,” “(an) tslachtmhaireacht,” or “(ainm an) tslatóra.”  Remember, “s” is silent after an initial “t” in Irish (an tsráid [un trawdj], etc.).  So, if we pronounced the acronym TSAGG as per Irish rules, it would sound like “tag,” which sounds appropriate for the context, vaguely computery-jargony.  BTW, English has only a handful of initial-ts words.  An cuimhin leat iad?  Muna cuimhin leat, féach sna nótaí thíos (2).  Of course, in Irish, the “ts” combination only occurs due to a trigger from a preceding word, like “the” before certain nouns starting with “s.”  These include feminine singular nouns (an tslat, an tsnáthaid) or the possessive forms of masculine singular nouns (sleán an tsleánadóra)

But to get back down to earth, and to deal with practical applications of the “HTH” idea, there’s no reason you have to make an acronym out of it.  It would be perfectly fine to use the full phrase, as given above, creating variations like the following:

Tá súil agam gur chuidigh sé sin leat.  I hope that helped you

Tá súil agam go gcuideoidh sé sin leat. I hope that will help you.

Tá súil agam go gcabhraíonn sé sin leat.  I hope that helps you (using “cabhraigh” instead of “cuidigh” for “help”).

Tá súil agam gur chabhraigh sé sin leat.  I hope that helped you.

Tá súil agam go gcabhróidh sé sin leat.  I hope that will help you.

And now how, I find myself wondering, has this concept been acronymized in other languages as well?  How ‘bout TMADGBESACL? GMH? Or JEQCTA or EEQCTA (although I’m getting a little out of my Celtic comfort zone with the last two!).  Cad iad siúd, in ainm Dé?  Féach nóta 3 thíos.  

As for whether the acronym form of “HTH” is widely used in Irish, or even in the other languages directly above, I’d say probably not.  I have a hunch that English is one of the most acronym-prone languages out there, to the extent that there are lots of protests against acronymization (e.g. Jeff Atwood’s  Hmmm, “anti-acronymizationism (?)”!  But meanwhile, it sure gives us an opportunity to explore stórfhocal [STOR-OK-ul] na Gaeilge.  Tá súil agam go raibh sé seo cabhrach.  Or “HTH’d.”  Hope this helped (at least to explain the acronym sa bhlag roimhe seo).  SGF, Róislín

P.S. Hmm, can I “past-tense-ize” HTH as “HTH’d”?

Nóta 1: Focail fhada nach bhfuil ach guta amháin acu:

A. Béarla:

Strength: it’s unusual in English that both the 3-letter cluster “str-“ joins up with the 4-letter ending “-ngth,” but here it is – ocht litir, guta amháin.  The ending “-ngth” is pretty rare in and of itself, but it’s only with the initial “str-“ that it real chalks up points for near-vowellessness.  The other two examples of final “-ngth,” “length” and the quite obsolete “youngth,” simply have fewer consonants in proportion to the vowels.

Schnapps, tagann an focal seo ón nGearmáinis, “schnaps” (gan ach “p” amháin).  “Schnapps” i nGaeilgeFocal atá i bhfad níos giorra [shorter] – “sneap” [shnap].

B. Gearmáinis:

Naoi litir agus guta amháin, mh’anam!:schrumpfst

Ocht litir agus guta amháin, reasonably “mh’anam-ish” freisin: “schwimmt.”

Again, what can I say, but nach iontach na cairn chonsan iad?  (carn, here, “cluster,” often “heap, mound”).  So, of these two German words, which means “he/she/it swims” and which means “you shrink”?  More or less a “tabhartas in aisce,” déarfainn.

C. Gaeilge: i nGaeilge, bhuel, ní fhaighim ach focail le seacht litir agus guta amháin ina measc: “(i) bhfadhb,” “(i) ndrúcht,” agus “(i) bhflosc,” mar shamplaí.  Níl mé ábalta smaoineamh ar aon fhocal a bhfuil ocht litir aige nach bhfuil ach guta amháin ann.  An féidir libhse?  N.B. Ceist eile ar fad í ceist na bhfocal fada nach bhfuil ach an guta céanna iontu, mar shampla, “adhantach.”  

D. Teangacha eile: Polainnis?  Sanscrait?  Moltaí ar bith agaibhse? 

If any readers can think of some other one-vowel goodies i dteangacha eile, it would be fun to see them.  Please do write in.  Irish has lots that are seven letters with one vowel, as we just saw, especially when we apply urú (eclipsis).  It has some really long words with proportionately few vowels, ach sin ábhar blag eile.  And then there’s always “na hadhbha” and “na hadhbhtha” but, guess what, sin ábhar blag eile freisin!

Nóta 2: Focail A Thosaíonn le “ts” i mBéarla:  These are all I could find, and they’re all focail iasachta (loan words).  In Irish, these words just start with a regular single “s.”  An féidir le duine ar bith agaibh smaoineamh ar cheann ar bith eile?  Additional suggestions welcome!

Ón Rúisis: tsar (czar), tsarina (czarina).  I nGaeilge?  Sár, Bansár, No initial “t” of “sár” unless possessive (mac an tsáir, the son of the tsar).  “Bansár” has the “ban-“ prefix and so would never get an initial “t.”

Ón tSeapáinis: tsunami, súnámaí; tsuzumi, susúimi (a type of Japanese drum).

Ón tSuáinis: tsetse fly, seitse [SHETCH-uh].  Note that “cuileog,” the actual word for a “fly” in Irish,  isn’t part of the term; it’s just “seitse.”

Nóta 3 (An tAcrainm i dTeangacha Eile?)

TM ADGBESACL? Tha mi an dòchas gum bi e seo a’ cuideachadh leat (or “… gu bheil e seo …”) (or “leibh,” etc.) (Gaeilge na hAlban)

GMH? Gobeithio mae’n help (or “… helpu”) (Breatnais)

JEQCTA or EEQCTA? “J’espère que ca t’aidera” or “en espérant que ca t’aide.”  Or plural forms: JEQCVA or EEQCVA for “vous”? (Fraincis)

Gluais: adhantach, igneous, inflammable; moltaí, suggestions; Rinn an Dóchais, The Cape of Good Hope; smaoineamh, to think, to reflect; Suáinis, Tswana (a language of southern Africa); tabhartas in aisce, a giveaway; thug sé an leabhar go …, he swore that … (lit. he gave/took the book that …)

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