On a walk last week, I overheard a woman speak a word (Irish English slang, chiefly Munster I think) that I hadn’t heard in a long time: cnáimhseáiling, or knawvshawling. The opening c or k* is pronounced distinctly: /’knɔːv’ʃɔːlɪŋ/. After making a quick note on Twitter, I was too busy to elaborate until now, but you won’t hear me knawvshawling. The word means muttering complaints, whingeing, sullen grumbling, finding fault, or — another very Irish idiom — giving out:
Finish your plate now and don’t mind your cnáimhseáiling.
The Anglicised spelling knawvshawling is a loose phonetic approximation, as are knauvshauling and cnawvshawling. There are short entries in an online dictionary of Cork slang and a directory of Irish slang, but I think the word deserves a longer write-up.
His write-up is well worth reading; I will add a mildly interesting linguistic observation of my own. When I studied Modern Irish, it was the western dialect of Connemara that I learned, and in that dialect initial cn- is pronounced /kr/, so that the word cnáimh ‘bone’ (the first part of cnáimhseáil) is pronounced /krɑ:w’/, sounding something like “croive.” But this word is apparently not used in Connemara, only in the southern dialect region, so that if I follow my natural inclination and pronounce cnáimhseáiling “croiveshawling,” I’ll be using a pronunciation no actual Irish person uses. Ah well, I’m told it’s a grand language by them that knows.
Oh, if you’re wondering about that asterisk after “c or k,” it goes to the following footnote:
* I’ve just noticed how accidentally apt is this arrangement of letters.