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Words for Gender

Hi there! I'm an agender person, and I was wondering if Irish has any words for nonbinary genders! Thank you!

May 7, 2015



Do you mean pronouns or just nouns referring to an agendered person?


Well, the normal gender neutral way of referring to somebody in Irish is "an duine".

Dúirt an duine = The person said.

A dhuine = Hello!

Ba dhóigh le duine = One would suppose

Bhí mo dhuine ag caint = The guy was talking.

Using "mo dhuine" usually means you know them, or they're the main character in an anecdote. It's hard to explain, I wouldn't try to use it until you're fairly advanced.

  • 1865

Well, you could do what English does and use siad. It makes sense to me, and it would hardly be the first thing Irish borrowed form English, anyway.


That would not work. "Siad" refers to multiple people explicitly, it is not a gender neutral pronoun. If you did this people would think you meant multiple people.


Wow, thanks for all the replies, peeps! It's super cool to hear all of your thoughts 'n stuff!


I'll be pleasantly suprised if the answer is "yes", but we are talking here about a language which lacks a theologically neutral way to say "hello".



Beannú dhuit

(Beannú here means salutations)


Conas atá tú.

(Dialectal: Conas taoi, Conas tánn tú)

"Conas atá tú" is "hello" in Irish, just as "How are ya" is hello in Hiberno-English.


The NEID offers heileo as an alternative to Dia duit / Dia daoibh.

Do you consider the English word “goodbye” to be theologically biased?


Dia dhuit isn't going to hurt someone if they're an atheist though. It's the same as saying 'bless you' in English - it has a theological root but is hardly the same as saying JESUS bless you.


True... Well, it was worth a try.

Edit: I did a smidgen of research, but nothing came of it. :(


Maybe some should be made? Neologisms have to begin somehwhere :D

Apparently éighnéasach is asexual but éigh- means cry out, scream, or complain so not exactly a positive prefix. The grammatical neuter gender is called neamhinscne. In this sense neamh- has nothing to do with heaven, but in- an- un- and non- so it's a much nicer prefix than éigh. Perhaps a new word should be coined like neamhinscnenach, neamhinscneoir, neamhinscnéasach or something.


You’re dividing éighnéasach in the wrong place — it’s éi- + -ghnéasach (gnéasach is “sexual”). Éi- is simply a negating prefix, like the “a-” in “asexual”.

One could follow the Swedish example and alter the vowel in existing pronouns to come up with an agendered version — say, siú and ú to correspond to and é and to and í, since neither siú nor ú have any alternate meanings. One could then coin the several corresponding prepositional pronouns accordingly, taking care to avoid confusion with their respective third-person plural versions, e.g. aigiu for agendered aige / aici, liu for agendered leis / léi, etc. However, a small irony would be that the new pronouns themselves would need to be assigned grammatical gender, so that their emphatic forms could be coined.

For the possessive adjective a, what word mutation (if any) would apply to something belonging to an agendered person? I suppose that T-prothesis could be used if that something began with a vowel, since that’s not currently being used by any of the existing “his”, “her”, and “their” meanings of a ; but if it began with a consonant, that could be tricky, since eclipsis, lenition, and no mutation are already taken by the existing meanings.


Re: it could well be old-fashioned, but it’s not at all presumptuous.

This is my opinion, Scilling. If someone said "(May) God bless you" to me I would find that a tad presumptuous. What if I have a different religion and my own god(s) to bless me? What if I'm areligious? Above all, I don't think it's appropriate for when you meet people for the first time.

As for the grammar part? I really don't think the average Joe understands the concepts of vocative case or subjunctive mood so they're not going to check whether it’s in the subjunctive mood versus the imperative. All they're going to hear is God or Mary and perhaps they won't like that. I know, you can't do anything without people taking it the wrong way today, but that’s the global and multicultural world we live in now.

Re: Goodbye vs. Dia dhuit / Dia's Muire dhuit

You're comparing between two different cases though. Goodbye is a contraction and a relic from an earlier form of English (as well as an added o and obsolete ye). The same can't be said for Dia dhuit and dia is Muire dhuit as they both obviously show the unaltered words God and Mary in today's Irish. Personally, I would indeed find it surprising an Irish speaker or learner wouldn't discover their literal meanings very early on because the words are right in front of them. It would be like us being flabbergasted that the full phrase “God be with you” has a religious connotation. Yes, perhaps phrases/words do lose their impact but it's harder to deny or be ignorant of their roots if they are in their uncontracted and modern day forms.


Irish though has "Dar Crom" and "Dar Fia". Its not just Dia Dhuit. Thats three gods from three different religions. They're just common phrases.


What if you did have a different religion with your own gods to bless you, or no religion at all? It doesn’t represent any sort of proselytization effort whatsoever; it’s simply a spoken response to a sneeze. If I were in the Punjab and someone said ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (waheguru) in Punjabi to me after I sneezed, why should I possibly be offended? It’s simply a societally appropriate response, and has nothing to do with beliefs I might or might not hold.

I made that grammatical point because you had written “God bless you” (subjunctive) as “God, bless you” (imperative), which are two different statements. The average Joe will simply learn that in Irish, one says Dia duit when greeting somebody, and to respond to it with Dia’s Muire duit. As AnLonDubhBeag noted, it’s said no matter the beliefs (or lack thereöf) of the people who say them.

Since you are aware of the roots of “goodbye”, do you only say it to people whom you know to be monotheists, to avoid the possibility of offending people who also know of its roots, who aren’t monotheists, and who would take umbrage at the word because of its roots?

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