Irish Language Blog

When is ‘hanging’ not based on ‘croch’ in Irish Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

'crochta' nó 'ar crochadh' nó 'léibheannach' i nGaeilge?  Agus cá bhfuil siad? Na freagraí?  Léigh leat!, fearann poiblí)

‘crochta’ nó ‘ar crochadh’ nó ‘léibheannach’ i nGaeilge? Agus cá bhfuil siad? Na freagraí? Léigh leat!, fearann poiblí)

Well, the flip side of our title would be, “When the word ‘crochis used to indicate hanging in Irish.”  So this blog will deal with a little of both, some typical phrases with “crochta” or “ar crochadh,” and some phrases that use “hanging” in English but completely different words in Irish.  And, just as a little spoiler, we’ll end up taking a brief linguistic trip back in time to “An Bhablóin.”

Remember, the basic meanings of the verb “croch” [say “krokh”] include:

hang, hoist, raise up, lift, carry, throw down (in cards), clear off, dangle, droop, and crucify (when used with “ar chrois“)

With “crochta” [KROKH-tuh] we have:

babhla crochta, [BOW-luh, with the “-ow” like “cow” or “now” …] a hanging bowl

droichead crochta, a suspension bridge

geata crochta, a portcullis, lit. a “hanging gate”

inneall crochta, an outboard engine

oighearshruth crochta [OY-ur-hruh, with the “g,” s,” and “t” silent], a hanging glacier

planda crochta, a pendant plant

taca crochta, a flying buttress (not that the buttress really flies, of course–rather, I guess, we’d say, it hangs)

urlár crochta, a raised (“hung”) floor

And with feminine singular nouns, the form  is “chrochta” [KHROKH-tuh] as in:

caint chrochta, affected speech

mala chrochta, a steep incline, and yes, “mala” also does mean “eyebrow,” but presumably context clarifies the distinction!  And this is definitely not the word “mála,” which means “bag,” and which most people probably learn before learning “incline” or “eyebrow.”

fána chrochta, a steep decline or downward slope

Other items are typically described as “ar crochadh” [erzh KROKH-uh] as in

bláthchiseán ar crochadh [BLAW-HyISH-awn …], a hanging flower-basket (from “bláth,” flower + “ciseán,” basket; when combined the initial “c” is lenited and so is not pronounced).

ceithearnach ar crochadh [KyE-hirzh-nukh], a hanging pawn, in chess (a “ceithearnach” being a “kern” or “foot-soldier”)

And when is “hanging” in English not “hanging” in Irish?  Here are a couple of examples:

slapar, a hanging branch, also a loose garment or fold of skin, a cow’s dewlap, or, in horticulture, a slip (a small cutting of a plant, as used for ‘beangú,’ grafting)

taipéis bhalla [TAP-aysh WAHL-uh], a hanging tapestry or wall-hanging, lit. a wall tapestry

And, as promised, touching down in ancient Babylon,

Gairdíní Léibheann na Bablóine, lit. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, lit. the Gardens (of) Terraces (of) the Babylon, using “léibheann,” a level space, terrace, or platform, as seen in “saothrú léibheannach” (agriculture on terraces), although a “terrace house” is usually “teach sraithe,” using “sraith” (series, ply, row, tier, etc.), not “léibheann.”  As I understand it, “terraced” is a better description of those gairdíní Bablónacha, anyway–they weren’t really “hanging” as such.

The term “terraced house” isn’t usually used in the US (not sure about Canada– a Cheanadacha?) but the closest equivalent would be the “rowhouse,” also a “teach sraithe” in Irish.  But the term “terraced housing” emphasizes the presence of small gardens in the front of the house whereas a typical row house will open right onto the street.

I’ve sometimes wondered, when the Herman’s Hermits’ song, “No Milk Today,” was popular in the US, whether the young American aficionados of the song really understood the reference to terracing in the line,

“But all that’s left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town
Becomes a shrine when I think of you only
Just two up two down.”

Anyway, back to “hang” itself.   As for the colloquialism, “hanged if I know,” most equivalent phrases in Irish don’t reference “hanging” at all.  Some equivalents are “Níl barúil agamsa” (I haven’t got an idea), and a little more dramatically, “Dheamhan a fhios agamsa”  or “Diabhal a fhios agamsa.”

Well, hang it all (mo dhiomú air!), it’s about time to wrap up this blog.  Hope you found it helpful.  – SGF – Róislín

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