The Micheal Breathnach Club.

I read Dan Barry’s long NY Times story on hurling because of my interest in Ireland, and I was pleased by “The Connemara team, from the Micheal Breathnach club in Inverin (named after an early-20th-century Irish writer, in keeping with this country’s celebration of the word)…” I’d enjoy rooting for the Mets even more if they were the New York Walt Whitmans.

One thing puzzled me:

On the Connemara side, players sat with hurleys in hand as their wiry manager, a school psychologist named Rory O Bearra, encouraged them in the language of Irish.

Mark your men, lads! Catch the ball — ball to hand! Move the ball quickly. Short grip on the hurley. Hit the man or hit the space with the ball. Let’s go, lads, let’s go!

I presume “the language of Irish” refers to the Irish language, and the passage in italics is translated therefrom, but it’s possible that is intended to mean “the quaint English dialect of the local Irish people”; it’s an odd locution, so it is.

Comments

  1. in the language of Irish

    I think that’s just an (in)elegant variation for “the Irish language”. Note below the phrase “sometimes in Irish, sometimes in English”.

    Breathnach

    Meaning, by the way, someone from Wales, or more likely Cumbria (the “old North”).

    A man’s number reflects the position he plays

    Now that’s a fine thing.

    an obscenity understood in English or Irish

    What would that be, O Master of Objurgations?

  2. I think that’s just an (in)elegant variation for “the Irish language”.

    Is it, though? Are you familiar with it as such? Because I’m not, and I’ve read a lot of newspapers. When I google “the language of Irish” I just get “the language of Irish literature,” “the language of Irish Travellers,” and the like; when I add “is” to eliminate those, I get: “No results found for ‘the language of Irish is’.”

    Now that’s a fine thing.

    It was actually tried in baseball: “In 1936, the Boston Red Sox assigned their regular position players uniform numbers that corresponded to their scorecard-numbered defensive positions, from catcher (2) through right-fielder (9).”

    What would that be, O Master of Objurgations?

    I wish I knew! Any Irish persons want to weigh in?

  3. I wish I knew! Any Irish persons want to weigh in?

    Lúdramán, spailpín, there are any number of obscenities “understood in English or Irish” by people in that (this) part of the world. If he means something etymologically English, well, that’s an unfortunate way to phrase it!

  4. David Eddyshaw says:

    Is spailpín actually obscene? The English “spalpeen” isn’t noted as such in Chambers, or even as necessarily insulting. Perhaps a loss in translation.

    Talking of melodious Irish insults reminds me of Albert Reynolds the gombeen man. Or not, as you may think, ladies and gentlemen of the (British and bemused) jury.

  5. David Eddyshaw says:

    There’s certainly precedent for foreign borrowers not understanding just how very rude the word they’ve adopted is in its Urheimat. I’m looking at you, Mike Myers.

  6. If you are referring to “shag”, well, Mike Myers has Scouse parents, I think he understands completely. It’s part of the Austin Powers meta joke.

  7. On numbers corresponding to Position – that was usual for decades in football (for the Leftpondians: soccer), with 1 usually being the keeper and 11 the most forward position. Nowadays, it mostly has been replaced with fixed numbers for each player Independent of position, especially during tournaments.

  8. US “roster” = UK “squad”. “Squad numbers” were introduced in the FIFA World Cup in 1954. The were introduced in English league soccer IIRC around the time the FA Premier League was founded in 1992, which was also when player’s names were first written on the back of their jerseys; both part of a general revolution in TV-centred marketing. The name “False 9” for a not-quite-centre-forward was coined long after the centre-forward stopped being number 9.

    Position numbers are still used in rugby union, although a few clubs used letters instead of numbers. One rugby position had no other name than “Number 8”.

  9. I presume “the language of Irish” is from the same bucket of purple prose that gave “more than a half-century ago” rather than “in the 1960s”. Likewise I presume “an obscenity understood in English or Irish” just means “an obscenity in English”.

    “Even the partitioning of Ireland did not stem hurling’s popularity among Irish nationalists living in the six counties that remain a part of the United Kingdom.” Pffft. Gaelic football is the game in Ulster. Only Antrim tries to hurl.

  10. Likewise I presume “an obscenity understood in English or Irish” just means “an obscenity in English”.

    That’s my guess as well.

  11. “foreign borrowers not understanding just how very rude the word they’ve adopted is in its Urheimat. I’m looking at you, Mike Myers.”

    Cough, cough, “Snatch” cough, cough.

  12. J. W. Brewer says:

    In football (by which my dialect means “American [and possibly also Canadian] football), numbers remain position -linked insofar as a player’s position determined what range of possible numbers his particular number may be selected from. The system has evolved over time, but the current rather complex official NFL rules are given in chart form in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_number_(American_football). The system is traditional but seems of somewhat limited functionality except to the extent it enables the officials to determine quickly who is and isn’t an eligible receiver.

  13. Irish doesn’t have any obscenities. If you want to use obscenities you have to borrow them from English. Nevertheless there are many colourful ways to insult people in Irish. If we believe the old stories, the ancient bards used to satirize people until they went mad or dropped dead.

  14. I was voting with the English supporters, so to speak, till I found this in wiki:

    >Na Breathnaigh’s Hurling squad represent Ireland in the Iomain Cholmcille shinty/hurling international for Gaelic speakers.

    There’s also the fact that the Michael Breathnach club’s homepage is in Gaelic:
    http://www.michealbreathnach.com/

    I think these two things will probably be decisive for most of you. Certainly for me.

  15. David Eddyshaw says:

    “Irish doesn’t have any obscenities.”

    Evidently a sign of language death – a language no longer usable across all domains of human interaction.

    Even Esperanto has obscenities.

  16. David Marjanović says:

    If we believe the old stories, the ancient bards used to satirize people until they went mad or dropped dead.

    Plausible in a society where warriors lived off their reputations; once the reputation was thoroughly ruined, they had a problem too big to handle.

  17. I think these two things will probably be decisive for most of you. Certainly for me.

    Yup, good sleuthing.

  18. Does hurling also have the meaning of “to vomit” in Ireland?

    I had not heard of the sport, but heard the adolescent prep school girls in my vicinity use “hurl” to mean “vomit” numerous times.

  19. I became acquainted with the “vomit” sense via “Wayne’s World”. I think most Irish under-40s would have no trouble understanding the meaning, and some might affect to use it on occasion. OTOH, saying “hurl” (rather than, say, “play hurling”) is perhaps a touch rustic? It bespeaks a familiarity with the game which not all Irish people have.

    I was confused maybe 10 years ago reading a US journalistic piece about a “hurler”; Googling revealed it was a twee synonym for “baseball pitcher”. All Irish people know about the hurler on the ditch.

  20. “On the ditch” is itself Hiberno-English, since non-Hibernian varieties use ditch for a trench and dike for a ditch.

  21. I believe “hurl” for “vomit” is an abbreviation of “hurl mighty chunks,” if memory serves.

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