Friday 28 October 2011

żurek in Connacht

Thanks to all commentators for the very useful responses to yesterday’s posting. I shall now with confidence add to the next edition of LPD (when and if there is one) as follows.
uillean, uilleann ˈɪl ən ˈɪl jən — Irish [ˈɪ lʲənʲ ˈɪ lʲən]

While on the subject of Irish, I notice that on the American voice association’s email list a lady from Texas is asking about the pronunciation of the name of the western province of the Irish Republic, which she gives as Connaught.
Anybody out there know whether the emphasis in Connaught Province is on the second syllable? Pronunciations online seem to indicate a slight emphasis on the first syllable. My director, who lived in Ireland (but is in no way a vocal coach) seems to insist that the emphasis is on the second syllable.

Straightaway she got a reply from a voice teacher in Maryland.
I have always heard it pronounced with the stress on the second syllable. The first syllable is not 'thrown away', but de-emphasized.

Interesting. See how what appears to be misinformation disseminates. Perhaps it is true that in America you “always” hear this name given second-syllable stress. But that’s not what you hear in Ireland, or indeed in Britain. The only pronunciation I have ever heard is ˈkɒnɔːt, with initial stress.

Wikipedia offers us a range of authentic-sounding possibilities, all with initial stress:
Connacht (pronounced /ˈkɒnəxt/, /ˈkɒnəkt/ or /ˈkɒnɔːt/ —Irish: Connachta / Cúige Chonnacht —pronounced [ˈkɔnəxtə]), formerly anglicised as Connaught.

Indeed, we nowadays spell the name of this province as Connacht. We retain the old spelling in the case of the Duke of Connaught, a dukedom now extinct, and in various placenames and street names. The enquirer was talking about a play, A Lie of the Mind, whose author, Sam Shepard, no doubt uses the old spelling.

I suggest in LPD that for Connacht, though not for Connaught, we can reduce the second vowel to ə, as happens in Irish. Next time I ought to add the Irish-language pronunciation, too.
_ _ _

In the past I have congratulated the Guardian on its newly acquired ability to print letters bearing diacritics, not only for names and other words from French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, relatively familiar languages for us, but also from other languages that use the Latin alphabet (blog, 20 April 2010). Today, though, it slips. Simon Hoggart, in his always entertaining parliamentary sketch, fantasizes about the UK prime minister, excluded from hobnobbing with the big boys of the eurozone, having instead to dine (horror!) with Swedes and Poles, Hungarians and Latvians. (Even the Slovaks and Estonians are in the inner circle, but not us.)
As any fule kno, these should be “żurek” and “blåbärssoppa” respectively. Though why someone might want three kinds of soup at the same time I have no idea.
_ _ _
I shall be away for the next two weeks. Next blog: 14 November.


  1. I can't recall every hearing the pronunciation ˈkɒnɔːt.

  2. Sorry to keep going back to yesterday's topic...but the final N is uilleann is "broad" (plain/velarised), not "slender" (palatalised). So the Irish pronunciation is ˈɪlʲən, not ˈɪlʲənʲ. That would be *uilleainn, which isn't a word.

    A consonant cluster with an A, O, U or AE next to it (on either side) is broad. A cluster with I or E, not including AE next to it is slender. That's the rule, and there's only one exception in the Irish language: the copula is ɪs.

    I'll read the rest of today's post now!

  3. "we nowadays spell the name of this province as Connacht". Who is "we"? I shall go on using Connaught, I think. And Stornoway, not Steornabhaig or whatever, and Rome, and Lisbon...

    Just as we are not offended by Londra or Londyn, there is no reason for us to be ashamed of our anglicisations.

  4. The spelling "Connaught" is seldom seen in Ireland, though it pops up occasionally in corners of officialdom where any departure from the 19th-century Ordnance Survey toponym must be supported with a full audit trail. The Connaught Telegraph retains it, just as the Chicago people still called their encyclopedia the "Encyclopædia Britannica". The Connacht Tribune OTOH changed from Connaught Tribune c.1905.

    I have never heard the pronunciation [ˈkɒnɔːt] in Ireland, and I suspect most Irish people would view it as an ignorant guess from the (archaic) spelling, or perhaps fail to recognise the word at all. If "Connaught" is a spelling mainly used in Britain, and with reference to hotels and peers rather than provinces, I suppose the traditional British pronunciation deserves priority.

    The Wikipedia article's note is what they call 'original research' (not in a good way):
    In Ireland, the original pronunciation remained intact, the Gaelic-style spelling Connacht now used more often in English. It may have gained currency by mistranslation of the Irish name into English: in Irish, the form Cúige Chonnacht 'province of Connacht' is almost always used, and this may have led to people misunderstanding genitive case Connacht as the Gaelic version instead of nominative case Connachta."
    But "Connacht" is not faux Gaelic; it is the legitimate singular, per Dinneen; the placename "Connachta" is the plural.

  5., NID3, AHD4, and RHD2 all agree that the standard American pronunciation of Connacht, Connaught is /ˈkɒnɔt/, once you have extracted the meaning of their respective barbarous symbologies. However, does not have separate symbols for /ɒ/ and /ɑ/, a reasonable choice considering the pervasiveness of the LOT-PALM merger in modern American speech (only Eastern New England and supposedly NYC lack it, though I hear it daily here in NYC, so I think it is at best a recessive feature).

    But surely whoever first wrote down Connaught in English meant it to mean /ˈkɒnɔːxt/.

  6. John,

    I didn't think I was a fit person to contribute to your crowd-sourcing enterprise yesterday re "uilleann", as although I came under your rubric of "ONLY if you have heard other people use it in English", I have heard it regrettably widely as ˈuːlɪən, including in Northumberland! And I'm not a speaker of Irish by a long chalk, but I know more than enough to agree that Wikipedia's ˈɪlʲənʲ should be [ˈɪ lʲən].

    So I'm pleased that you've decided on ˈɪl ən ˈɪl jən — Irish [ˈɪ lʲən] for your entry.

    But you could still consider including OED's ˈɪljɪn if further asking around reveals its existence in English outside the cloisters of the OED. It is of course absurd of them to give it as the only pronunciation, but it must have come from somewhere, and there are variants like "uillinn pipes" and "píb uillinne". The online reference sources are such a mess that I'll just quote from my De Bhaldraithe and Ó Dónaill: the former only gives "píb uillinne", with the normal genitive singular "uillinne", for "union pipes" under both 'pipe' and 'union', and the latter only gives "píb uilleann", "uillean pipe(s)" under "píb f.", though obviously it can be plural as in Wikipedia's "píoba uilleann".

    But Ó Dónaill too gives the normal genitive singular "uillinne" under "uillinn f.", "elbow", describing "uillean" as a genitive plural as well as singular "used in certain phrases", along with other variants (gs and npl uilne and pl uilneacha) which look as though they ought to be under uille¹, f.

    All this is evidence of forms being current which could have found their way into the OED as ˈɪljɪn.

    Duchesse's Irish Culture and Customs website gives "píopaí na n-uilleann", which is especially exotic in that the n- prefix explicitly makes the "uilleann" into genitive plural elbows. I suppose it's not beyond all imagining that virtuoso pyrotechnics with two bellows and perhaps even two chanters are not without precedent. That website says the pronunciation of this "píopaí na n-uilleann" is "pee-uh-pee nah nill -inn", which is probably not worth trying to make any sense of, but again has the final -ɪn as if it were for "uillinn".

    One of the senses of "píopa m." is indeed "píb, f.", but "píopa uilleann" and "píopaí uilleann" already seem to be quite exotic variants.

  7. mallamb:
    "Duchesse's Irish Culture and Customs website gives "píopaí na n-uilleann", which is especially exotic in that the n- prefix explicitly makes the "uilleann" into genitive plural elbows. I suppose it's not beyond all imagining that virtuoso pyrotechnics with two bellows and perhaps even two chanters are not without precedent."

    But surely the plural refers to the right arm being used to operate the bellows and the left to squeeze the bag? PA plural thus makes sense, no?

  8. Of course! And I've seen them played! Duh. I didn't think that through, did I? I was hypnotized by the almost ubiquitous claim that uilleann is singular there, (and my mental picture of the two bellows – with the squeezing done by the knees?) and there does seem to be a strong sense that it is, except for this solitary example I found of "píopaí na n-uilleann" with the article marking it as plural. And the coexistence of the regular "píb uillinne" argues for the singular interpretation.

    An obvious place to find a commitment to this almost ubiquitous claim that uilleann is the genitive singular in "píb uilleann" is Wiktionary:
    «The normal genitive is uillinne, but in certain contexts it is uilleann:
    píb uilleann -- uilleann pipes»

    I suppose there's no reason why uilleann shouldn't be singular if it's not marked as plural, but it would be a sorry manifestation of Anglophone imperialism if this perception of its being singular were due to the influence of the common literal translation "pipes of the elbow", with "pipes of the elbows" being comical in English. Not that you can tell where the definite article in "píopaí na n-uilleann" would go in English! What's your feeling about this, Pete? Any aged NSs with no English you could ask about their perceptions?

  9. "
    Though why someone might want three kinds of soup at the same time I have no idea.

    Soup is in. We have restaurants now that serve only soup. (I think it's the one that also does a prison theme for the decor just to be perverse.)

    Of course, not to be outdone, there are now also restaurants serving nothing but porridge.

  10. BTW, Connacht / Connaught / Connachta is not in the Irish Republic; it's in Ireland / Éire - or the Republic of Ireland / Poblacht na hÉireann. The Irish Republic exists only in some British publications!!

  11. Rant aside - I'm from Connacht(a), and it's always stressed on the first syllable. Maybe you could also educate people re Connemara / Conamara? Connachta means 'the people of Conn by the way; whereas Conamara originates from Con nAicme Mara methinks - 'the seapeople of Conn'? hmm must recheck that one...

  12. No I'm wrong - according to wikipedia Connemara / Conamara is from Conmaicne Mara - totally different etymology. Michael D. mar Rí!

  13. The last line was a reference to the Irish Republic's (sic) new President!

  14. Local English language pronunciation is something like /ˈkɔnəmærə/ (my IPA is rudimentary) - local Irish Gaelic is /ˈkɔnəmarə/ - and finally /ˈkɒnəmaːrə/ which sounds extremely alien to those in or around the region...

  15. Oh, I don't know.

    I'm afraid I have to demur. First, the organization the list serves is the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA)and the list is called vastavox. It is an organization with a primarily North American membership, but there are members from around the world, including many in the UK.

    My second objection is that the original poster did not ask how "Connaught" (or "Connacht") was pronounced in Ireland or in the United Kingdom, but rather how a character in Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind" might pronounce it. The character is an American from an unspecified Western state. The character is not Irish, nor has she ever been to Ireland. She is reading the name from a map.

    Vastavox is a friendly and informal group, and participants are always happy to share their knowledge or even their vague intuitions. It's a varied set of people, including experienced voice and speech teachers, students, actors, and even the odd eminent phonetician. There are certainly instances when people share information that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, but that scrutiny is usually forthcoming, and someone will offer a correction from their own experience or direct readers to the appropriate resources to answer the question.

    In this case, however, there was no misinformation. Someone asked about a word spoken in a play by an American and one American responded with her impressions. Other responders gave the "correct" answer about the pronunciation in Ireland, but I think they rather missed the point of the original inquiry.

  16. The Irish Republic exists only in some British publications!!

    "British"? What do you mean by that?

  17. Not "of the British Isles, irrespective of ethnicity or political allegiance", obviously. I think the OED says all that needs to be said about the British Isles:

    «A group of islands, including Britain, Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands, the Scilly Isles, and the Channel Islands, lying off the coast of northwestern Europe, from which they are separated by the North Sea and the English Channel. Chiefly with the.
    The term is generally regarded as a geographical or territorial description, rather than as one which designates a political entity. The term is deprecated by some speakers in the Republic of Ireland.»

  18. mallamb

    The term is deprecated by some speakers in the Republic of Ireland

    Wasn't it as recently as this year that the term was removed from atlases there?

  19. The term "Irish Republic" is used by some British writers/publications - it is rarely if ever used in Ireland - where it is clearly perceived as a British putdown - how many times does one read "the French Republic" when referring to France?

  20. And I mean as a reference to the name of the country - of course the French Republic is used to describe the French state - the descriptive term for Ireland is also well known as the Republic of Ireland. Why do I bother?

  21. The term "Irish Republic" is used by some British writers/publications

    "British"? What do you mean by that?

    how many times does one read "the French Republic" when referring to France?

    All the time.

  22. Mallamb & Lipman - You won't hear the British Isles too often in Ireland; it might be an ancient descriptive usage and all, but I'm afraid it's highly politically charged. We say 'in Britain & Ireland' or something similar - even the awful 'these islands' (mostly be politicians!). The perception of British Isles in Ireland is that it subsumes Ireland's separateness, and consequentially our sovereignty.

  23. My repeated point was that talking of British publications or writers, as opposed to publications published in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and writers associated with it (please define) is on the same "incorrect" level as talking about the Irish Republic.

  24. "French Republic" is correct in a sense in which "Republic of France" would not be. The Irish case is somewhat opposite. "Republic of Ireland" is an endonym, "Irish Republic" is an exonym. Some exonyms, rightly or wrongly, rub some indigenes the wrong way.

  25. Oh dear! I can see where this is going. I won't go there in pursuit of pointless trolling.. (Sorry for the slow reply - was trick or treating with my nephew) - Let's agree to disagree shall we?

  26. And as the person who wrote "western province of the Irish Republic" perhaps I could say that I meant no "putdown" or slight. I was entirely unaware that Irish citizens (? citizens of the Republic of Ireland) find it offensive. And I find it difficult to understand why. Perhaps Gearalt will explain.

    I had supposed that for any X, "the Irish X" = "the X of Ireland". Dublin = the Irish capital = the capital of Ireland.

    Is it OK to call Michael D. Higgins "the new Irish president"? Or do Irish people (people of Ireland) prefer us to say "the new president of Ireland"?

    When Sinn Fein MPs decline to take their seats in "the British Parliament", are they making a comparable point by not saying "the Parliament of Britain"? We Brits are accustomed to saying "the British monarchy, the British army, the British constitution" etc etc. Why can't we use the parallel expressions with "Irish"?

    Gearalt, I'm genuinely puzzled.

  27. The "Irish X" v "X of Ireland" is informalDescription v. formal title, for most X. But for X = Republic, sensitivity is heightened. Wikipedia has some info on Republic of Ireland v Irish Republic, but I'm not sure how accurate or relevant it is. I think most people in the Republic would recognise "Irish Republic" as a formula used by British people for the modern state; I don't know how many would associate it with the 1919 Sinn Féin state.

    Some people seem to regard the modern British usage as showing wilful ignorance or even a deliberate snub. Other complaints are harmless banter akin to people from Newcastle or Newfoundland deriding outsiders for not pronouncing the name the way the locals do. On the internet it can hard to tell the conspiracy theorists from the jocularists.

    I might quibble with "western province of the Irish Republic" on the grounds that the Republic does not have provinces, the island does. The state's 2006 census (7 years after the claim to Northern Ireland was dropped) is broken down by province into Munster, Leinster, Connacht, and "Ulster (part of)".

  28. I wasn't aware of those implications, thanks.

    How about the Irish republic, with a lower-case R?

  29. Mollymoody

    I think most people in the Republic would recognise "Irish Republic" as a formula used by British people for the modern state; I don't know how many would associate it with the 1919 Sinn Féin state.

    When I was a boy (in England) I heard people speak of The Irish Free State — presumably a term used from 1919 or shortly after. Few English people would have known it was anachronistic. And use of the name Eire was surprisingly common.

    I can't think of any name in common use here with the formula Republic of X which isn't one of the following
    qualified People's Republic of, Federal Republic of
    metaphorical Republic of Crime
    super recent Republic of Congo

    Yes, there are various states which are officially named by this formula, but it's common practice to reduce it to ADJ of-X-Republic or simply X. Nothing specific to Ireland — we say Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Central African Republic (if that's still the name), because there's no obvious proper noun available (although other languages can say Czechia.)

    We would much prefer to say Congo, but that fails to distinguish it from what we call Congo Brazzaville. By the same token we much prefer to say Ireland — except in cases where it matters which political entity is referred to. Even then, most of us most of the time can operate with Northern Ireland and Ireland.

  30. PS

    Even the qualified Republic of names were frequently avoided: Communist China and West Germany. We just don't like the collocation republic of. It's pretty amazing to discover that some people somewhere like it.

  31. I wouldn't really agree that its citizens like "Republic of Ireland"; they merely dislike it less than "Irish Republic". Have a trawl if you dare through this Wikipedia discussion (and meta-discussion) on what to name the relevant Wikipedia article.

  32. To all,
    First of all I apologise for being overly-sensitive - my excuse is that it was an anniversary of the passing of a family member.
    Mollymooly has it in one in the following sentence:
    Some people seem to regard the modern British usage as showing wilful ignorance or even a deliberate snub.
    I have since found out that the revolutionaries of the Irish War of Independence styled their desired state as "the Irish Republic"!
    John Wells asked me:
    Is it OK to call Michael D. Higgins "the new Irish president"? Or do Irish people (people of Ireland) prefer us to say "the new president of Ireland"?
    Of course it's ok to say "the new Irish president", just as there's nothing inherently wrong with "the Irish Republic".
    There are peculiar politics to placenames in Ireland - take Londonderry / Derry or Dingle / An Daingean (in Co. Kerry); and many UK based media take cognisance of this. The BBC has a policy of saying/writing Londonderry for the first instance of same in a report, and leaving it to the writer's discretion as to what version they use thereafter. I read a fair amount of UK based media on the web; and many outlets seem to do something similar with the Irish Republic - getting it out there early on and being more liberal in usage thereinafter. That is probably where the sensitivity threshold gets lowered - some Irish people perceive this as indeed a snub - whereas in fact it probably stems from sensitivity to the unionist community (and probably from their complaints).

    On a pop psychology / national psyche / stereotypical level (forgive me), there is a tendency in a large part of Ireland for people to be very indirect - we don't say what we mean to each other or to outsiders (the northern irish seem to be the opposite) - and we use clues and cues from how people say things and how they behave to figure out what they mean (many Poles and others could not get their heads around this during the short-lived mass immigration period). That probably explains why we jump on someone who uses an exonym to refer to our country; there's nothing inherently wrong with Irish Republic - it's just that it's a cue (remember we are indirect and often say what we think others want to hear) as to how we should judge that person's attitude.

    If this makes any sense, please let me know!

  33. Just read the relevant wikipedia section on the UK cabinet meeting following the Republic of Ireland Act in 1949 as referenced by mollymooly; and how this style usage is still de rigeur - this must surely be the source of our particular iteration of the placename conflict. It's sad but probably inevitable how people can cause each other offence and be unaware of the historical origins of their gripes... Education sets us free!

  34. An American analogy: melanistic Americans are happy to be called people of color, but African Americans (a subset of melanistic Americans) object strongly to colored people nowadays as a consequence of the euphemism treadmill. Likewise, in AmE it is often the mark of an antisemite to call someone a Jew, but to say that someone is Jewish or to speak of the Jews is entirely neutral. See also people-first language.

  35. John Cowan

    Nice try, but people of colour is a totally different use of of. And I've never known anybody object to Jewish people. When the NAACP was founded, the CP was perfectly acceptable.

    The only analogy is that the named has, for reasons unknown to the namers, taken exception to the name. The reasons are unknown and unpredictable because they stem from experiences that the namers have never shared. It's the history of the use of the phrases, not the construction.

  36. David Crosbie: Quite so. I meant only that constructions which are normally taken to be denotatively synonymous wind up being sharply distinguished by some people as a result, as you say, of the experiences they have had with them. History suggests that these shifts do not make for long-term improvements (Hebe began as a jocular expression used by Jews about themselves, and wound up an antisemitic term), but as Language Hat says, there's no reason to give anyone additional pain if you can avoid it.

  37. Name, Wappen und Herkunft der deutsch-slawischen bürgerlichen und adligen Familien Zurek. Wappen Schur, Zur, (Szur, genannt Namiot oder Kisiel)

    Der Name Zurek mit der Stammform „Zur” stammt aus dem Germanischen und bedeutet als „Übername” (auch mittelbarer oder indirekter Berufsname) soviel wie Sauer = Sure als Übername zu mittelhochdeutsch Su(ve)r = S`uer, bitter, hart, böse, grausam. Wenn heute noch Sur anstelle Sauer vorkommt, ist das eine Hinweis auf niederdeutsche, das heißt norddeutsche Herkunft. Das Wesen des Ubernamens vom Beruf besteht darin, daß an die Stelle der eigentlichen Berufsbezeichnungen die Attribute der einzelnen Handwerke oder Gewerbe treten, also vor allem Werkzeug, Erzeugnis und Handelsware, ja sogar typische Arbeitsgeräusche und Begleiterscheinungen.

    Das Stammwort Sur (in diesem Fall für Sauerteig) bezieht sich als Übername auf den Beruf des Sauerteigbäckers oder herstellers. Daneben als weitere Bedeutung für Sauer: Im Jahre 1309 Sure als Übername zu mittelhochdeutsch Su(we)r = „sauer, bitter” und niederdeutsch „Suhrbher” = für den Brauer, der das haltbare Bitterbier herstellt.

    Außer als Übername kann der Name Zurek auch als Patronymikum (vom Namen des Vaters abgeleiteter Eigenname) oder als Personenname vorkommen. Zurek bedeutet denn hier auch: Sohn des Zur. Auch hier ergeben sich die verschiedensten Schreibweisen wie Zurke oder Surek. Der Name Zurek kann in den verschiedensten Sprachräumen- und Schreibweisen vorkommen. Aus der Stammform Sur oder Sauer bildeten sich die Form des engelsächsischen oder englischen Sour, und die des sorbischen und slawischen Zur. Die slawisierte Form des Namens Zurek = Zur, bedeutet im Sorbischen „Sauerteig”, ein Getränk, aber auch „mühselige Arbeit”. Im Sorbischen begegnen wir den Namensformen Zurk (1635–45 und 1658 Schurck).


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