Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dinneenisms: céard siad féin?

Fr Patrick Dinneen (1860-1934) in 1927 had published his pioneering and eccentrically loved Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, in the Irish Texts Society edition that in its green & gold Revivalism matches nicely the few Early English Texts Society texts I could afford when amassing my sources for that ginormous dissertation with their dignified brown covers and gold lettering. I was delighted back before UCLA's bookstore became a shopping mall, before it was removed upstairs in the interim into the old bowling alley in Kerckhoff, to find this volume for $7.50 back circa 1986. I think there was a confusion of sterling or Irish pound with dollar for the price, but I snapped it up. The cover price of my 1979 printing still was a bargain, at sé phunt, mar sin é. Isn't the cover of a more recent re-issuing of this dictionary handsome? Mine is plain wrap white paper with small green (ar ndóigh, ceart go leor) old font lettering; my Ó Dónaill's also so old it's a generic dust jacket too. Fr. Dinneen's an intriguing character; I only wish I could find out more about him with my lack of fluency needed to unpack a biography of him that I recall's been published as gaeilge.

(Note added 4/27: I googled this 1984 lecture to the Irish Texts Society by Noel O'Connell on Fr. D and his life's work with the ITS:)

The entry by Liam Mac Mathúna in Brian Lalor's massive Encyclopedia of Ireland remarks as my carrot to the stick I wield in goading myself along Michael Ó Siadhail's Learning Irish (tá mé ag an ceacht naoi déag anois) that our good lexicographer "is fortunate to have been the subject of an enlightened biography by PROINSIAS Ó CONLUAIN and Donncha Ó Céilechair, An Duinníneach (1958), itself a classic, see p. 556)." [quote p. 229]

P. 556 shows a photo of him at the entry for the ITS. The caption tells us that: "He claimed in the early twentieth century he was the only person making his living from writing in Irish." (And if he did not have a stipend from the Church, I wonder how he then would have fared. How much scholarship lacks fruition due to so many of us, myself included, lacking the time away from making that living by teaching endlessly in an insanely competitive job market oversaturated with wee sons of the working class trying to scrabble our way up the academic ladder, a few rungs perhaps behind the "quality"? How much has changed in a century?)

I learn in this entry by Bernard Shore (shout out for an Irish Jewish lexicographer whose Slanguage: a dictionary of Irish slang I find another great word-hoard) that the dictionary was published 1904 but the "stereotype plates" were a victim of the Rising. So the revised edition appeared in 1927. Ironic. I wonder how Fr. Pat regarded the destruction accidentally of his labor by the rebels who from his work had gained such appreciation if not fanaticism for the vision of the aisling, Caítlin Ní Houlihan, Irish-Ireland.

On the train home, perusing Gabriel Rosenstock's equally entertaining and erudite Beginner's Irish (reviewed on Amazon and on this blog last month), he mentions a few of his favorite definitions in his coinage of "Dinneenisms" from that 1927 dictionary, in the old Gaelic font in its headwords, which only adds to the fusty antiquarian charm of this priest (1880-1900 a Jesuit but left the Society over some scholarly tiff?) from near Rath Mór i gContae Chiarrai. Until Niall Ó Dónaill and Tomás de Bhaldraithe's later work fifty years later, Dinneen was the man to go to for céad míle focáil-- rather than cúpla focal, if you were such as Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen, or even Brian O'Nolan-- or was it Ua Nualláin?

I was going to copy them, but googling I found a Daltaí discussion thread, sadly left dangling. that gave my favorite two via Rosenstock! Here's two more however that I culled: "Drúichtín-- a small pale slug of snail. On May mornings girls examined the shade of coloring of the first drúichtín they encountered to discover the color of their future husband's hair." (p. 75, Rosenstock) Ioman Gréine-- sun-inspiration or a sun-bubble formed on herbs, bestowing the gift of poetry on the eater." (ibid)

[Errors silently corrected below from original post on Daltaí.]

Lúcas posts on 9 December 2004:

Gabriel Rosenstock seems to have coined the word Dinneenisms for arcane words taken from foclóir Phrádraigh Uí Dhuinnín. He gives about twenty examples of them in his book, Beginner's Irish. Here are two of my favorites:

buarach bháis - used in witchcraft, an unbroken hoop of skin cut form the corpse while reciting incandations. The piece, the length of the entire body from shoulder to foot sole, is then wrapped in silk of the colors of the rainbow. It is used to tie the legs of a person to produce certain special effects.

sleith - a term in Brehon Law, signifying intercourse with a woman without her consent or knowledge.

I heard Ray MacManus give one in lecture. It was a word that meant something like making love in a tree. I wish I could remember the word. Does anyone know it?

Are there any other interesting Dinneenisms you might share with us in this thread?

Earlier that day, Aonghus:
Dinneen is full of Dineenisms.

Biddy Jenkinson wrote a whole detective short story around "mac saithe" a secondary swarm of bees. Published in Feasta recently.

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