Irish: Pangur Ban

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by Nunty, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I think this is Irish. Does Pangur Ban mean "white cat"?

    I was given some lovely calligraphy, a long poem entitled "Pangur Ban". The rest is in English. I don't know if it's a joke or real, but the attribution at the bottom is "A marginal poem on Codex S. Pauli by a student of the monastery of Carinthia 8th/9th century". It is longish, but the first four lines give the sense:

    I and my white Pangur
    Each has his special art
    His mind is set on hunting mice
    Mine is on my special craft

    Is my "white cat" guess correct?

    Thanks. :)
  2. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    I studied the original poem at university as part of my Celtic philology class, so perhaps I can help. :)

    The version you quoted in English is actually one of many translations of a rather long, exquisitely written Irish poem dating back to the IX century. This poem is scribbled on the margins of a manuscript currently held in the Monastery of St. Paul (Austria). Here's the original text.

    Pangur Bán is the monk's cat. While "Bán" clearly means "white" (in reference possibly to the cat's coat) Pangur isn't an Irish word. It's actually the cat's name and could be of Welsh origin (pannwr).

  3. purplebroccoli Junior Member

    English, Swedish
    White cat = cat bán. [cutt bawn] :) In case you wanted to know.

    The poem itself is written in Old Irish, I'm not sure about the word "Pangur". I think it's the cat's name but I read somewhere it means "waulker". Therefore the cat is actually called "white waulker".

  4. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    The hidden treasures among my WordReference colleagues never cease to amaze me. Warm thanks to both of you. :)
  5. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Dia anseo isteach,
    I had this poem for my Leaving cert, didn't find it quite so interesting way back then. I would like to suggest a better/another translation of the name Pangur. (It's a bit 'round-about, so please bear with me.)

    Following on from Rye's suggestion ; the welsh name pannwr appearantly translates as fuller in English; as in 'Hen grefft y pannwr' = 'The ancient craft of the fuller'
    Note : A fuller then was a workman who fulls freshly woven cloth for a living. Fuller Etymology: ME < OE fullere < L fullo, prob. < IE *bheld-, to strike >
    Let me lead you on a little more down this path - Fuller's lane in Cork city (Bandon Road area) was known as Lána Mhic an Úcaire.
    I found confirmation of this translation of "Fuller" on another site in the context of this very poem:
    :idea: Perhaps their Miller was of Welsh origin. :~ We'll never know! Pangur bàn = Úcaire bàn, so maybe the cat could be called "Fuller white" in English, I imagine nowadays he be called "Dazzling white", or simply "Dazzler".
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  6. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hey Ebba,
    You are quite correct with this suggestion ; in Elberfelder's 1871 German translation, of the New Testament, we find the following lines
    In this case walker = fuller = pannwr, one and the same job, in various tongues.
    Visit the Benedictine Monastery of St.Paul in the Lavant Valley website.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009

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