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The purpose of this forum is to provide a place for people who are interested in the Irish language and various Celtic languages to discuss them, to practice them, and to share information about them, particularly (but not exclusively) in the context of traditional music and culture.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:09 pm 
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Slew (not as in "killed"), bother, glom, down (the direction), slogan, pet (noun), smashing, twig...there is suggestion that "slugger" and "jazz" came from the Irish, too. Any more? There seems to be a rich array of this stuff.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:22 pm 
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"Galore" (go leor) is an obvious one.

My copy of Slanguage: A Dictionary of Irish Slang by Bernard Share has a lot of these. Borrowings galore, in fact.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:35 pm 
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Such blather. :wink:

I want to believe that Frank Zappa's album title Chunga's Revenge was in fact intentionally touching on this very subject. Nyuk.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:58 pm 
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I'm dubious, but a lot of people think "snazzy" comes from "snasail" (neat, elegant, ornamented).

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:54 pm 
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Smithereens

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:56 pm 
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Pixilated, pixel, pixie, etc.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:46 pm 
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MTGuru wrote:
"Galore" (go leor) is an obvious one.

My copy of Slanguage: A Dictionary of Irish Slang by Bernard Share has a lot of these. Borrowings galore, in fact.


Galore made it into english because of Compton Mackenzie's novel Whisky Galore which was filmed under that name in the UK, but renamed Tight Little Island for the US market, IIRC.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:19 am 
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It was suggested by one of my Oideas Gael teachers that the British slang "Smashing" meaning something very good comes from "is maith sin".

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:17 pm 
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A couple of others:

"Dig" (as in "you dig?") came into the jazz lexicon via the Irish "an dtuigeann tú?" ("do you understand?"...also used as a general place holder, in the same way we might say "you know?")

"Phoney." Actually came from the Irish "fáinne" (ring). Evidently there was quite a lot of interest in the Claddagh ring among non-Irish in the late 19th and early 20th century, which led to a lot of cheap knock-offs. Somehow the Irish word came to be associated with the cheapies.

Dare we forget "whiskey"? Came into English via "uisce beatha." Interestingly, got itself assimilated BACK into Irish as "fuisce"!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:40 pm 
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It has been suggested that the "An dtuigeann tú/You dig?" loan came from when you had large numbers of Irish-speaking laborers mixing with African American laborers when laying track for the great 19th century railroads...

One (rather dubious) example I heard over the summer was "moccasin", which a Scottish friend suggested to me came from the Scottish Gaelic "mo chasan" ("my feet"). The story goes that a Scottish fur trapper was bartering with some Native Americans one day and, pointing to his worn out shoes, said something to the effect of "Have you got anything for 'mo chasan?'", to which he was given some leather slippers. Again, dubious to say the least, I think...

A bit off topic, but I also find it interesting the sorts of grammatical constructions that have entered into English (particularly North American dialects of English) via Irish or Gaelic. For instance, many of us probably remember Yousemite Sam's signature line "That'll learn him!" from the old Warner Brothers cartoons. Some of us may have rolled our eyes at older relatives that have used similar constructions. I have a feeling this probably originally came from Scottish Gaelic, where it would be a very natural and correct grammatical construction. Gaelic does have a verb meaning "to teach" ("teagaisg"), however, it's only become widely used relatively recently. You still often hear older speakers use the construction "ag ionnsachadh + do", e.g.

Tha mi ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig dhut. ("I am learning Gaelic to you.")


What are some other examples you can think of?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:08 pm 
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The Sporting Pitchfork wrote:
Again, dubious to say the least, I think...


Gu dearbh. Moccasin come from the Algonquian languages. In Western Abenaki, for example, the root of the word for shoe is kezen, pronounced something like "guzzun". But the rules of Abenaki grammar dictate that a noun has to belong to someone or something (if I'm remembering this right - the class I took was a long time ago), and so the shoe would have to be my shoe (n'kezen), your shoe (k'kezen), his/her shoe (w'kezen), etc. When there is no identifiable owner, you use the "fourth person" pronoun (aka third person obviative), i.e. "someone's shoe", which you've probably guessed by now is m'kezen.

And that's more Eastern Algonquian grammar than anyone should have to see on C&F.

I can't think of any grammatical influences on standard North American Englishes, but in places like Cape Breton you hear quite a few constructions that must have either come from Scottish Gaelic directly, or from Irish via Newfoundland (depending on whether they're heard more in the country or in the towns). I'm thinking of things like "Come here till I see ya" and "I'm after having a cup of tea" (meaning I've already had it).

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:04 pm 
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The word "bog" actually comes from the Irish adjective "bog," which means "soft" (most likely by way of "talamh bog" -- "soft ground.") The actual Irish word for a bog (as in where you did turf) is "portach." Of course, from that you get "bogged down" and other such terms meaning "stuck."

The word "brogue" (as a slang term for an Irish accent) comes from the Irish word "bróg" ("shoe"). I've heard a couple of theories for this, both derogatory: The first being that it started with the English making fun of the fact that the Irish often didn't have shoes to wear, and the second being that they were making fun of the leather pampooties that they DID have to wear. Probably was originally a derogatory term for Irish people in general before it came to be applied to the way they speak.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:15 am 
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The Sporting Pitchfork wrote:
One (rather dubious) example I heard over the summer was "moccasin", which a Scottish friend suggested to me came from the Scottish Gaelic "mo chasan" ("my feet"). The story goes that a Scottish fur trapper was bartering with some Native Americans one day and, pointing to his worn out shoes, said something to the effect of "Have you got anything for 'mo chasan?'", to which he was given some leather slippers. Again, dubious to say the least, I think...


Be suspicious of folk etymologies containing this amount of narrative; they're usually made up.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:04 am 
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As it happens there is a Scots Canadian song as Gàidhlig Chanaideanach from I think the 19th century, and I believe it was collected in Newfoundland by Margaret Bennett, called Òran Nam Mogaisean or "Song of the Moccasins" which is a satire about new Scots immigrants, perhaps composed by the newbies and directed at themselves, and the topic is about trying to make a fist of making moccasins and doing it badly after being shown how by their Micmac (or Mi'kmaq or better yet Lnu if you prefer) neighbors, so the background story goes. The sarcasm in it doesn't translate directly into English; a straight-up rendering comes out rather flat and affectless.

I'm siding with "mogaisean" being a phonetic approximation of the Algonquian.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:26 pm 
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Redwolf wrote:
The word "brogue" (as a slang term for an Irish accent) comes from the Irish word "bróg" ("shoe"). I've heard a couple of theories for this, both derogatory: The first being that it started with the English making fun of the fact that the Irish often didn't have shoes to wear, and the second being that they were making fun of the leather pampooties that they DID have to wear. Probably was originally a derogatory term for Irish people in general before it came to be applied to the way they speak.

Growing up in northeastern Tennessee, we always called our leather farming/work boots "brogans". Don't hear that used much these days.

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