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Irish can easily deal with all the Brexit jargon you can throw at it

DEAL OR NO DEAL?: British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker speaking after the Commission announced that “sufficient progress” has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks 
Robert McMIllen

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad míle fáilte isteach chuig the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

Now, believe it or not,  there are people who think that Irish is only useful for collecting feamainn - seaweed or ag cur prátaí - sowing potatoes. 

However, Irish can be used to talk about the most complicated matters imaginable. In fact there is an online dictionary of technical terms at do if you ever need to know the Irish for constant-coefficient differential equation, you’ll know where to go.

(It’s cothromóid dhifreálach comhéifeachta tairisí by the way).

Jargon, however has a way of impinging on everyday life as we discovered this week with the Brexit talks.

The Irish for Brexit is Breatimeacht although others have suggested translations that were more humorous, shall we say. 

Now all the talk down at the pub is of an Margadh Aonair - the single market and an tAontas Custam - is the customs union.

The single market was designed by An tAontas Eorpach - the European Union whose aim to make it as easy to trade between Belfast and Bordeaux or Bucharest as it is between Belfast and Birmingham.

It also provides for saoirse gluaiseachta - free movement of goods, people, services and capital.

Now, some people had forgotten that there is a teorainn - a border in the north east of Ireland and that the flow of trade across that border would have to be sorted out before talks could move forward onto substantive talks about the future relationship between An Ríocht Aontaithe - the United Kingdom and the European Union.

So the EU and the UK decided that Phase 1 would deal with cearta saoránach - citizens rights, an bille - the bill that Britain would have to pay because it had promised to fund projects when it was still a member - like you promising to pay half for a friend to build a house but then deciding to live abroad, you still have to pay the half - and thirdly, the border, whether it’s a teorainn chrua or a teorainn bhog - a soft border or anyone for a border in the Irish Sea?

It seems not, certainly not the Irish or British governments and deffo not the nouveau politically riche DUP.

Indeed, so concerned were the DUP that the scuppered the deal that was to be sealed last Monday.  

(As Harold Wilson said in the 1960s: “A week is a long time in politics.”)

Everyone agreed on the benefits of the comhlimistéar taistil - the Common Travel Area but then béarlagair - jargon raised its ugly head again. 

What is the difference, for example between éagsúlacht rialála - regulatory divergence and ailíniú rialála - regulatory alignment?

Indeed the final agreement is full of language that is meant to obfuscate and already, David Davis has said that the agreements reached on Friday were “a statement of intent” but RTÉ’s Tony Connelly points out that the EU has said that the Phase 1 agreement is binding and “all commitments should be translated faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible.”


feamainn (famin) - seaweed 

ag cur prátaí (eg ker praatee) - sowing potatoes

cothromóid dhifreálach comhéifeachta tairisí (cohromoydge yifraylakh coefaykhta tarshee) - constant-coefficient differential equation,

Breatimeacht (bratimakht) - Brexit

an Margadh Aonair (un maragoo ayner) - the single market 

an tAontas Custam (un tayntas custam) - the customs union.

An tAontas Eorpach (un tayntas orapakh) - the European Union 

saoirse gluaiseachta (seersha glooishakhta) - freedom of movement

cearta saoránach (kyarta seeraanakh) - citizens rights

an bille (un billa) - the bill 

teoirainn chrua (chorin khrooa) - a hard border

teorainn bhog (chorin wug) - a soft border 

comhlimistéar taistil (coe-limishtayr tashtil) - the Common Travel Area

béarlagair (bayrlager) - jargon 

éagsúlacht rialála (aygsoolakht reealaala) - regulatory divergence 

ailíniú rialála (alinoo reealaala) - regulatory alignment

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