‘Cupla focal’ in more ways that one

It certainly brings a new twist to the phrase ‘cúpla focal’.

The team behind the country’s main Irish-English online dictionary has revealed that many visitors are looking for the ‘as Gaeilge’ version of some crude Anglo-Saxon terms.

It was revealed last month that visitors number to focloir.ie, the English-Irish dictionary translation site run by Foras na Gaeilge, has doubled, and that ‘love’ was the word for which most visitors were seeking an Irish translation. Further down the list of the 600 most frequently searched words so far in 2014 are some less family-friendly words, namely two headwords with a “vulgar” label, at positions 54 and 389.

At number 54 was ‘fuck’, which was searched for 635 times, while ‘shit’ was sought out 273 times.

In the 600 most frequently searched words in the month after the online dictionary launched on 10 March, 2013 to April 9 of the same year, ‘fuck’ was the most searched word of all — 260 times in one month, way ahead of ‘bring’ in second place on 90 searches. Five headwords with a “vulgar” label were in that first monthly usage list, at positions 1, 35 (‘arse’), 49, 122, and 189.

According to Cathal Convery, project manager of An Foclóir Nua Béarla-Gaeilge/New English-Irish Dictionary: “When we pulled out the latest statistics we were quite surprised the top 50 didn’t include any of the ‘familiar favourites’.”

He said that while steps were taken to ensure some rude words are not highlighted if a user is not looking for them in dropdown menus on the site, the dictionary was seeking to reflect how people use Irish — expletives and all.

“Our objective is to reflect the language as it is spoken,” he said, adding that previous English-Irish dictionaries tended to be “very formal”.

The team behind the dictionary plan on launching a publicity campaign in the new year in schools to further increase awareness of the word search tool.

And as Cathal points out, ‘toin’ — Irish for backside — is not vulgar in Irish and is in common usage.


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