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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 1999-2004 (Irish Only) » Béarlagair/jargon « Previous Next »

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Seosamh (2cust19.tnt9.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.129.19)
Posted on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 04:45 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Someone raised the topic of Shelta/Cant etc.

I hope someone can add something about Shelta, but I thought I would offer what little I have about a related kind of jargon, the language of the stonemasons. I don't know if it is essentially the same as Shelta or if both grew out of the same circumstances: i.e., people being forced into a new language with little in the way of formal instruction plus a need or advantage in having a private language that the outsider couldn't understand.

In much of Ireland, if you wanted a job as a stonemason you would be asked 'Cohaec the Bearlager na Saor?' 'Do you speak the language of the masons?' Of course, you had to understand the question and answer in the same private language, if you expected to work.

As you can see, it is a mixture of English and Irish. Some words are Irish ones spelled backwards. For example, a pony or donkey was called a 'geab lapac'. Hold that up to a mirror and anyone with four or five lessons of Irish will understand how that came about: capal(l) beag (little horse).

That's only the beginning. 'Geab' came to mean bad, old and slow as well as small/little.

Here's a ditty complaining about a bad boss:

I'd costrú the world over,
Coidhnú in Dover, dioglú in Japan,
With gearra coidhne I'd ceadú in China,
Before I'd work for that bad man.

(I'd wander the world over,
Eat in Dover, drink in Japan,
With little food I'd die in China
Before I'd work for that bad man.)

Fuair mé an t-eolas seo as leabhar iontach faoin tsaoirseacht chloiche in Éirinn. Tá an teideal agus ainm an údair caillte agam, áfach, agus mar sin ní thig liom féirplé a thabhairt. I'll post some more expressions if any one is interested.

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Seosamh (1cust43.tnt12.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.136.43)
Posted on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 05:36 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Actually, holding 'geab lapac' up to a mirror won't do any such thing. I'm kind of challenged that way.

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