Irish Language Blog

Warm, Hot, Sweltering, Sudorific (i nGaeilge) Posted by on Sep 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

While one may not think of the Irish climate as overwhelmingly hot, it never hurts to have the vocabulary to describe it as such.  Especially given téamh domhanda.  Or for Irish speakers vacationing i bhFlorida nó sa Spáinn.

I was about to casually say “laethe madrúla an tsamhraidh” (the dog days of summer), but I just checked and that period apparently ends around August 11th every year.  Could have fooled me, at least in the northeastern part of the States, where there can be aimsir bhrothallach (sultry weather) at least into early October.   Anyway, note to self for an Lúnasa seo chugainn: discuss “laethe madrúla.” 

It often puzzles beginners that in Irish the same word, “te,” suffices for “warm” and “hot.”  Context can sometimes determine the best translation; other times the situation may remain a bit ambiguous.  Here are some samples:

Tá sé te inniu.  It’s hot/warm today. 

Tá an tine te.  The fire is hot (fire is unlikely to be considered “warm” though aibhleoga might be)

Tá an leaba te teolaí.  The bed is warm (and) comfortable (a “hotbed” would be another matter altogether).

Tá piobar te ann.  There is hot pepper in it (again, no such thing as “warm pepper,” fad m’eolais).

Tá croí te aici.  She has a warm heart.   

Of course there are ways to clarify, either using different words altogether (like brothallach) or adding words to the phrase (like dearg te):

warm (and sultry): oíche bhrothallach, a warm night

burning hot: dearg te (lit. red hot)

lukewarm: bog (lit. soft), uisce bog, lukewarm water.  “Uisce bog” can also mean “soft water,” as opposed to “uisce crua” (hard water).  But another word, “boguisce,” can also be used for “soft water,” reducing the ambiguity.

lukewarm or indifferent: patuar (lit. fairly cool)

tepid (of water): bog, patuar

Just to mix it up a bit:

bogthe (lit. warm-hot): lukewarm.  Yet another way (!) to say “lukewarm,” for which the mysterious “luke-“ part apparently comes from Old English hleow, “tepid”)

We also have phrases that use “warm” or “hot” in English, but not in Irish, reducing the number of situations in which we have to decide whether “te” is best translated as “warm” or “hot”:

buíochas ó chroí, warm thanks, lit. thanks from the heart

fáilte agus fiche, a warm reception, lit. a welcome and twenty, twenty-one welcomes

baothchaint, hot air, nonsense, lit. foolish speech

So that takes care of “hot” and “warm.”  What about “sweltering”?  There are a couple of choices, mostly involving several words in a phrase, not a single word that specifically means “sweltering”:

beirfean teasa, sweltering heat (beirfean, boiling heat + teasa, of heat)

brothall thar meán, sweltering heat (lit. heat beyond the norm)

Tá beiriú sa lá inniu: It is a swelteringly hot day (lit. there is boiling heat in the day today)

A person could be described as “snáfa le hallas” (sweltering, lit. swimming or crawling with sweat, even more literally “swum or crawled with sweat,” but that’s a little hard to wrap one’s inchinn around, syntactically).

And that brings us to my final and favorite word for this blog, sudorific (causing sweat).  This brings us to the basic words for “sweat” and “sweating.” 

allas (an t-allas): sweat

ag cur allais: sweating (lit. “putting sweat,” just like we say “ag cur fearthainne” or “ag cur báistí” lit. “putting rain” for “raining).    

The related adjectives include:

allasach – sudorific

allasúil – sweaty (watch those adjectival suffixes – they can make quite a difference). 

Then there’s always “sudoriferous,” which in Irish is expressed by using “allais” (of sweat) with the word for whatever bears the sweat, as in “faireoga allais” (sweat glands).  But even I’d admit that that’s not particularly úsáideach for gnáthchomhrá

Finally, getting back to the basic idea of “hot” vs. “warm,” I’m sure there are varying opinions out there among léitheoirí an bhlag seo.  If you’re born and bred i bhFlorida nó “i nGleann an Bháis,” California, you probably have a different perspective on when it’s warm/hot from someone raised in Éirinn nó in Íoslainn nó sa tSibéir.  Anyone care to send in your thoughts, either i gcéimeanna Fahrenheit nó i gcéimeanna Celsius?  Then we could do a comparison and practice talking about specific temperatures and temperature conversion.

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