The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2000 (July-December) » Gaeilge word/meaning and few other questions « Previous Next »

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Bob B ( -
Posted on Saturday, October 07, 2000 - 06:22 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia duit! I'm a beginning beginner in Gaeilge so I hope my first question doesn't inadverently offend anyone. I'm researching my Family history. Part of this includes transcribing a tape of a now dead Aunt giving an oral history. She talks about her Aunt speaking Gaeilge. When this Aunt was mad, she used to say "a bad fess to you all". My question is about "fess". I'm not sure of the spelling. It sounds like "fess" or "fesh". Can anyone tell me 1) the correct word or likely word and 2) its meaning?

I spent all last night searching the Net trying to deduce the word from trying to learn Gaeilge pronounciation. I was a lot of fun. So much so, I decided to learn to speak and write Gaeilge. I hope to eventually become fluent in it. I always want to learn it, just never got around to it. Working on my Family history with its deeps Irish roots has given me a new appreciation of and desire to learn Gaeilge.

This leads me to my second question. Is it true Gaeilge has a verb, subject, object sentence structure unlike English's subject, verb, object order? If so, it shares a similarity with American Sign Language (ASL) and, I think, Russian. Being fluent in ASL, my brain is already "wired" for a VSO language. I hope this will help me pick up Gaeilge quicker. Can anyone offer helpful advice? I would like to learn from a native speaker, if possible. There seem to be a few in my part of New Jersey (US). Unfortunately, seems I just missed the start of a local Fall class. :-(

Third question: When telling (vocally) someone how to spell a Gaeilge word, how to you tell them a particular letter has a fada? In English, you would say "dog" d-o-g. What a about, say, Etain, (sorry, my keyboard won't put a fada over the 'E')? Just curious.

Which leads to my final question, for now :-). How is Etain pronounced. I've seen "AY-deen" and "ETT-an". The first seems more correct but does 't' sometimes have a 'd' sound in Gaeilgi?

Thanks so much for all the help! I hope soon, I will be able to write in Gaeilgi...and able to understand the replies! :-) bob

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Seosamh ( -
Posted on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 01:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

'Bad cess to you' is what she must have been saying. 'Cess' is Irish English for 'luck'. It comes from English, probably the second syllable of 'success' but some people believe it came from another English word that I cannot remember offhand.

An Irish equivalent is 'rath' (pronounced RAH) meaning prosperity, abundance:

Rath Dé ort. (RAH DJAY ort) Prosperity of God (Dé) on you (ort).

Gan rath ort. (GAHN/GUN RAH ort; gan = without) Bad cess to you. May you fail.

When people spell in Irish they usually use the English names for the letters of the alphabet*, but they add the word 'fada' after the names of long vowels: é would be said 'e fada'.

* Irish and British-born people will say 'haych' for aych (i.e., 'h'). Sometimes people say 'ah' for the letter 'a'. There is an Irish-language alphabet that a few people use and that more of us should get used to.

It's also part of the language lore that long, long ago the Irish attached tree and other plant names to letters of the alphabet. That's a system in disuse for many centuries, in case any New Age Celtic enthusiasts tell you otherwise. (I'm not sure how common the system EVER was.)

Rath Dé ort.

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Máire Ní Ógáin (
Posted on Tuesday, October 10, 2000 - 12:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

About Étaín - it's usually spelt Éadaoin these days and pronounced Ay-dtheen. I spell it 'dtheen' because the sound is between a d and a th - it's the 'th' in 'then' rather than in 'thick.'

Étaín/Éadaoin is anglicised as Aideen, too.

Go n-éirí le do chuid staidéir!

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