Whilst working on GaelscÃ©al on Tuesday last IÂ realizedÂ that I did not know the correct Irish term for â€˜Northern Irish,â€™ so I quickly checked focal.ie, the â€˜National Terminology Databaseâ€™ for Irish.
That was a fruitless journey for they had no such term, I requested they provide one.
The term was one I have strangely never needed in Irish and I have never thought about it to date.
On the day, we simply used the English term in single speech marks.
That night I heard two terms used on TG4, â€˜Tuaisceart-Ã‰ireannaighâ€™, agus â€˜Ã‰ireannaigh Thuaisceartachaâ€™, both translating into English as Â â€˜Northern Irishâ€™ but with a subtle difference in meaning in Irish which the EnglishÂ doesn’tÂ capture.
One implies a mere geographical distinction, the other, perhaps, a clear political distinction.
A meaningless distinction for most but one could argue that constitutionalÂ future of the Northern Ireland state rests on this distinction, whether the Northern Irish are â€˜Tuaisceart-Ã‰ireannaighâ€™ or â€˜Ã‰ireannaigh Thuaisceartachaâ€™ at the end of the day.
Anyway, I received an email from Focal.ie on Thursday morning, recommending â€˜TuaisceartÃ³irâ€™ as the Irish for â€˜Northern Irishâ€™.
No trace of â€˜Irishnessâ€™ survives in the term â€˜TuaisceartÃ³irâ€™, which would translate into English as â€˜Northernerâ€™.
But hereâ€™s the rub, the word â€˜Tuaisceartachâ€™ would also translate into English as â€˜Northernerâ€™, but that would be a mere geographical description.
â€˜TuaisceartÃ³irâ€™ however, suggests a certain activity, a motion, a deliberate act.
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