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  5. "Corcra nó dearg."

"Corcra dearg."

Translation:Purple or red.

August 26, 2014



Though it doesn't look like it, the word 'corcra' is actually related to the English word 'purple'. Way back in time, Old Irish almost entirely lost the letter 'p', with initial letter 'p' disappearing completely and 'p' changing into a 'k' sound, thus you get words like the 'athair', which means 'father' in Irish and 'pater' in Latin, which share a common ancestor, but the word in Irish lacks the 'p'.

Shortly after this happened, Irish came into contact with Latin speakers, and would borrow vocabulary from them, and the Latin word 'purpura' was one of them, but because Irish lacked a 'p', a 'k' sound was substituted, thus leading to 'corcair' and subsequently 'corcra'.

The other lesson to learn from this is that if you see a word starting with 'p' in Irish, it was probably borrowed from another language.

[deactivated user]

    That is an interesting example! This process happened in Gaelic languages of Irish, Scottish and Manx, that is why they are classified in the q-Celtic group, whereas Brythonic (Breton, Welsh and Cornish) are p-Celtic.

    E. g. the word "head" is ceann in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, kione in Manx, but penn in Breton and Cornish and pen in Welsh!



    Interestingly, the Celtic languages aren't the only IE language family with such a split. A similar split happened amongst the Italic languages, with Latin being one of those that ended up with [k] and some of the others ended up with [p]. Of course, then the Roman Empire happened, and we all know what happened after that. It's particularly interesting, because the Italic family of languages are thought to be the IE branch most closely related to the Celtic languages, and there's even a story that during Caesar's conquest of Gaul, he switched to speaking Greek because he realised he could understand a fair bit of what the Gauls themselves were saying. Apocryphal or not, if you've ever seen Ancient Irish inscriptions, they do bear an uncanny resemblance in some ways to Latin, in that some of the inflections are similar, and some of the words wouldn't look out of place in Old Latin.

    In fact, if you want to see an inflectional ending that has remained intact in many of the Romance languages and the Gaelic languages, the ending -(a/e/i)mos (which ended up as -ons in French, and -amo in Italian, and I couldn't tell you what it is in Romanian) and -muid in the Iberian languages and the the Gaelic language for the first person plural present tense are etymologically related!


    Re Irish and Latin connection, it seems to me that Baile and Villa are cognate via vowel metathesis.


    That's one of these things that looks plausible (and is a good guess), but unfortunately there's no etymological connection between the two. In fact, there's a closer etymological connection between "bottle" in English and "baile" in Irish than with "ville" in French. The initial letters are the giveaway: "b" is etymologically stable from Irish all the way back to Proto-Indo-European, and French "v" is almost as stable, being where it can be traced back to a "w" sound in PIE reconstructions. "Baile" goes back to the PIE root *b^huH- while "ville" goes back to PIE *weyk’-, via Proto-Italic *weikslā.


    Very interesting. So is portán borrowed then? Looked for its etymology on wiktionary but apart from pointing to OI partán it didn't tell me anything. Would you know more about it?


    Almost certainly. I've no idea what its ultimate etymology is, but it's almost certainly borrowed from another language, be it some pre-celtic language, or maybe somewhere else.


    "nó" should be pronounced as just no but with slight emphasis on the o, well that's how we'd say it in my region anyway.


    Yeah, this is a strange pronunciation to me (Dublin).


    Yeah all I heard is "new"


    I agree. To me, a Tyrone man taught Donegal Irish at school, noo sounds bizarre.


    I say it a bit like "noo", but not exactly like that.

    • 2316

    It's probably worth pointing out that Irish people say "no" differently from many other English speakers. It's a pure o, whereas many English speakers pronounce it as a diphthong or a triphthong.


    A singular pronunciation, of nó. It seems almost: ni


    I agree, I heard "nú" where I had expected to hear "nó".

    • 1416

    Is the speaker's pronunciation of 'dearg' correct? The 'd' is a slender consonant, isn't it? So there should be that little 'dj' sound, not a 'd', or am I getting this wrong?


    I was thinking the same. Memrise uses the "j" sound. When I looked the word up in an external pronunciation website, it mentions there are two pronunciations, so perhaps this is one of those regional variations?


    Because this sentence ends in a period it is a statement. However, could I also use this same sentence as question and be understood (given the right context) or would making it a question require a change to the sentence structure?


    is the pronounciation ''coffcra'' or ''cosscra''


    The Irish word for purple/violet is pronounced "Kur-krah". (As a child, I always associated it with a purple crocus, I don't know why.)

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