1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. "Béarla."

"Béarla."

Translation:English.

August 25, 2014

54 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

A nice name for English. Sounds like a real name.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/talideon

It's an abbreviation of 'sacs-béarla', literally 'saxon language'. Originally 'béarla' meant language in general, but came to mean primarily English. In modern Irish, 'teanga' ('tongue') is typically used for 'language'.

'Béarla' is also sometimes used to mean 'gibberish'.

Etymology corner: the word originated from 'beal-ra', which meant 'something produced by the mouth'. 'Beal' is 'mouth' in Irish.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NiallT

Actually, I believe "gibberish" was the original meaning. The two words for language were teanga and canan, the first being the current Irish, the second being the common word in Scottish Gaelic.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ungewitig_Wiht

So the Irish called our language "Saxon gibberish"? That's actually pretty funny


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brusslesbrout

"gibberish" describes English very well XD


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eamonn1963

Only when spoken by Westminster politicians. :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Niamh629130

Yeah its what most ppl talk anyway ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wowpow2300

It's hysterical. xD I wonder if it has to do with how the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded the British Isles and how they sorta brought Old English with them.


[deactivated user]

    I don't think they "sort of" brought Old English with them, they just plain did. Haha


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/talideon

    I perhaps wasn't precise enough in my definition. What I meant when I said 'language in general' was akin to the contrast between 'langage' and 'langue'. The former refers the the faculty of speech (including voices, gibberish, &c.), while the latter, like 'teanga' refers to specific languages. It could be used to refer to incomprehensible blather in OI, but it was also a component of words like 'bérlamail', which meant 'fluent'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katia

    That's very interesting! Many thanks! Do you know of any book/source about the linguistic history of Irish? Many thanks. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/talideon

    Not really. The only ones I have are rather scholarly and dense, such as Rudolf Thurneysen's "A Grammar of Old Irish", which isn't exactly an easy read.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katia

    Many thanks! And don't worry about the difficulty, I am already studying philology and linguistics and know how hard it can be. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/israellai

    Wow, this is amazing.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrea477019

    This is very similar to the original meaning of "barbarian" in ancient Greece, but the words seem to be unrelated


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tanay_b

    So English=Gibberish. Got it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AveleenEt

    Kind of similar how Russians/Poles call the German(s), немец/"niemiec", "a mute one", who cannot speak properly.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChromateX

    And the Norsemen and the Italians... and probs some others call them the Tysk or the Tudeschi.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nukeqler

    "Type in English". Ok then. :-)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alphabeta

    That sent me down a rabbit hole; I watched the whole thing.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MartinJami1

    Same rabbit hole. 4 episides of TV goodness.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/One_Trick_Tony

    Thanks! I just watched the first episode and it is very interesting; now I'm going to have to finish the rest of them!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Melfistofeles

    I think I'll watch this too, LOL


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zamlet

    Does this word mean exclusively "English", the language, or does it mean "English" in a more general sense (i.e. something from England)? It's not clear from the context here.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/talideon

    It refers to the language, and that's it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ataltane

    "English" in the general sense is Sasanach, from "Saxon"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaylaKnowe

    "Sasanach" is the word for english as in "coming from england"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roran212

    Béarla = English (language)

    Sasanach = Englishman or "....from England"

    Shasana = "....of England"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ataltane

    Sasanach means "English person". It's not specifically male.

    (How do people get this wrong in this day and age?)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SatharnPHL
    Mod
    • 1488

    The English language is a bit odd in that it uses the suffix "-man" for some nationalities but not others ("an Irishman", "an Englishman", "a Frenchman", versus "an Italian", "an American", "a Swede", "a Dane").

    The Irish for "Englishman" is Sasanach. A woman from England is also a Sasanach, because, strictly speaking, she also fulfils the dictionary definition of "Englishman".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ataltane

    Right, which is why in the approprate context it can be fine to translate Sasanach as "Englishman" (when you know it refers to a male), but the word can't be said to mean "Englishman" any more than "English woman"

    On your second point, not even the fetishized power of dictionaries can make it reasonable to call an English woman an "Englishman"; and I don't think the meaning of the Irish word Sasanach is mediated by any definition of the English word "Englishman".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/owenvenes

    My answer of "couldn't score a try to save their lives" wasn't accepted :(


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ruamac

    LOL - reminds me of the joke I heard yesterday - An Englishman walked into a pub . . . usually there'd be an Irishman, a Scotsman, and a Welshman there too but they're still at the rugby world cup:)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Zorua-

    English is the language of bears.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nardam89

    The language of bears.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Purple-Navi

    Are accents really important? Like can i get away with "e" instead of " é "


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ruamac

    Yes, the accent, or 'sineadh fada' as it is called, is very important. If left out or put in the wrong place it can convey a completely different meaning. For instance, the word for 'man' is 'fear' and the word for 'grass' is 'féar'. When you're speaking the words sound different so it doesn't cause a problem but when writing, you wouldn't want to tell someone that you cut the man with a scythe:)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NiallT

    Yes and no respectively. They mark different sounds (mostly just a difference in vowel length).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arabella210259

    It's still accepted by duolingo when you don't, but you should definitely use them :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nahuatl1939

    i remember reading somewhere that the Scots call the English " SASSENACH" or something like that. does it mean "english" or " saxon" ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnnikaFiercely

    Yes. 'Béarla' is the word for the English language, 'Sasanach' means 'English' in other senses. I assume it comes from 'Saxon' but the current word for 'Saxon' is 'Sacsanach'. 'Sasana' is 'England'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XoxoHaha

    It’s pronounced bear-la


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendanDoh8

    Bearla seems to be accepted as the word for English (the English language) in modern Irish, but I think it originally just meant language.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RIK-6075

    I think it should be called Sacs. Calling it béarla seems derogatory towards Gaeilge.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SatharnPHL
    Mod
    • 1488

    The noted lexicographers Ó Dónaill and de Bhaldraithe would disagree.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RIK-6075

    It's like saying English is a language and Irish is not.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NiallT

    How do you figure that one out? Calling English "blah-blah-blah" is saying English is a language and Irish isn't?

    That makes no sense.

    Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.