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https://www.duolingo.com/anfeardathuil

Diabhal r-phost nua!

I recently changed my Gmail account over to Irish, and my empty inbox declares "Diabhal r-phost nua!" I hadn't encountered the word "diabhal" yet, so I looked it up -- it means "devil." So, this is saying, "(A) Devil new email," which has got to be idiomatic. Where does that come from? How did we get "The Devil, aka Beelzebub, the Prince Of Darkness," to mean "None?"

3 years ago

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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More “not” than “none”. It’s akin to the English expression “devil-may-care”, meaning “carefree”, or to “the devil, you say”, meaning “you don’t say”, or (more popular in previous centuries) “devil a word” meaning “not a word”.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fingolfin1346

"Divil a bit of post" as my dad says.

Using "Divil a bit" to mean "none at all" seems to me to be fairly common among a slightly older generation in Ireland.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anfeardathuil

Go raibh mile maith agaibh! I found this, too, which seems to hit the nail on the head: http://english.stackexchange.com/a/76793

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TanagerMoonmist

Probably the same way "The hell you will!" came to mean "Oh, no you won't!"
We've even got the same expression in Croatian, halfway across the continent - it doesn't really invoke the devil, it's just a way of refusing or negating something. I wonder how many other European languages have the same thing.

3 years ago