Thursday 21 September 2017

Write side... with Darach O Séaghda

 

Darach O Séaghda
Darach O Séaghda
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Darach O Séaghda on how the success of his Twitter account led to 'Motherfoclóir', his book about Irish words

How did you end up writing a book about Irish words?

I didn't have any ambition to write a book originally. I started a Twitter account @theirishfor in 2015. I was returning to Irish after a bit of an absence, and sharing the Irish words I was enjoying - and people responded to it.

So what happened then?

I was approached by an agent about writing a book. It was important to me that it would not just be a list of tweets. I wanted to tell the personal story behind it.

Why has your Twitter account been so successful?

Sometimes social media can get very nasty but I wanted to make a cuddly corner of fun words. It's not about angry political debates.

Is it true that you found a grá for the language when your father was seriously ill?

Very much so. He had excellent Irish. When I realised that I might be losing him in the near future, I wanted to talk to him about the things that really mattered to him.

So where did the English word "smithereens" come from?

It's a great word that comes from "smidiríní", the Irish term for hot particles of metal cast aside from a smith's hammer.

How do they come up with new words, such 'scaidhpeáil' for Skype and 'Breitimeacht' for Brexit?

There is a terminology committee. It's a bit like a citizens' assembly. It's a mixture of academics and experts in different fields. There were different suggestions for Brexit, such as 'Sasamach', from Sasanach and amach.

Where do you stand on the whole 'crack' versus 'craic' debate?

Up until the 1990s, people commonly spelt it 'crack' in English. I think people changed it to the Irish spelling 'craic' to distinguish it from crack cocaine. There are Irish words with craic in them such as 'craiceáilte' for crazy and 'bualadh craicinn' for sex. So I give 'craic' a pass.

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