Friday, August 21, 2009


From The Irish language in Co. Down by Dr. Ciarán Ó Duibhín

On 11 March 1945, McPolin re James Cowan, farmer, Stang [Cluain Daimh], aged 60: ‘Traditional Irish: Cowan was able to repeat a number of phrases in Irish which his grandmother who knew the language taught him when he was a child, e.g. bless himself, count from one to ten, and such phrases as “shŏwitchshough”. At the same time he says his mother knew no Irish. She apparently was born about the transition period when parents did not wish their children to learn Irish. That would be about 1840-50 in this district. Cowan’s granny belonged to Drumboniff; she was born in the place where Barney Murnin now lives.’

What does “shŏwitchshough” mean and what can it tell us of the Gaelic dialect spoken in Clonduff? More than you might think. “shŏwitchshough” is clearly seo dhuit seo, 'here you are, there you go, here it is'.

What is interesting is that we can tell that the standard and Donegal form duit 'to you' was lenited (or aspirated) in the dialect - dhuit.

The phonetic spelling also seems to imply that this lenition had left the initial consonant very weak so that it seems to have been pronounced 'uit (witch) by this speaker.

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