Welsh: Hiraeth

L'irlandais

Senior Member
Ireland: English-speaking ♂
Hello,
In the context of the recent publication "Lost in Translation", by Ella Frances Sanders

Hiraeth a homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were...

She specifically says there isn't a word in English for it ; but I was wondering if there might be one in Irish. In a word how does one say this as Gaeilge,?
 
  • djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Not sure about Gaelic but the Breton for the French nostalgie is hiraezh. This could of course be a direct borrowing from the Welsh.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    English (Southern England)
    Not sure about Gaelic but the Breton for the French nostalgie is hiraezh. This could of course be a direct borrowing from the Welsh.

    Or they could be cognates (considering the Breton and Welsh are of the same branch of Celtic languages and are very similar, hardly beyond the realms of possibility!).
    'She specifically says there isn't a word in English for it'

    Isn't 'hiraeth' the same as 'longing'? (hir = long)

    It's related to longing, but there's a lot more wrapped up in the Welsh word "hiraeth" than just longing, in the same way that the English "cozy" just doesn't quite convey the full meaning of the Dutch "gezellig", German "gemütlich" or Danish "hygge".

    There's a short Wikipedia article on "hiraeth" (in English) which gives an explanation of its meaning.
     

    Distance

    Member
    English - UK, Welsh - Southern dialect
    I found the word "sireacht" on Google, but it doesn't get lots of results on Google. It may be something limited to Brythonic Celtic languages.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    There isn't an Irish word for hiraeth, but the Breton sounds like the same thing - they share a lot of similar vocabulary. The closest to the Welsh hiraeth in other languages is the Portuguese "saudade" which also has no direct English translation.
     

    WestFevalia

    Senior Member
    French - France
    There isn't an Irish word for hiraeth.

    I don't agree with you, Tegs. Of course I don't speak Breton fluently (just understand it a little) but here's what I found in Albert Deshayes's Dictionnaire étymologique du breton, p. 332 (the original is in French but I translate it):
    "Hirezh (hiraezh, 1499). fem. noun, impatience, homesickness, from hir + -ezh, corresponds with Cornish hyreth, Welsh hiraeth and Irish sireacht."

    By the way, the language spoken in British Cornwall is Cornish, isn't?
    'She specifically says there isn't a word in English for it'

    Isn't 'hiraeth' the same as 'longing'? (hir = long)

    It might be!

    We French also have the expression trouver le temps long:
    1) to be bored.
    2) to lose patience.

    And since hiraezh/hirezh also means impatience in Breton...
    By the way, djmc, according to Deshayes, both the Welsh and Breton words come from the Celtic root siros. It's related to Latin serus.
     
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    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    It's related to longing, but there's a lot more wrapped up in the Welsh word "hiraeth" than just longing, in the same way that the English "cozy" just doesn't quite convey the full meaning of the Dutch "gezellig", German "gemütlich" or Danish "hygge".

    There's a short Wikipedia article on "hiraeth" (in English) which gives an explanation of its meaning.

    I'll just add to this. Síreacht in Irish means longing. Hiraeth is all of the following: homesickness, grief for a lost or departed person or thing, longing.

    As far as I'm aware, there isn't one word in Irish or English that means all of those at once.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    No worries. The Welsh definitely doesn't mean impatience, although I don't know about Breton. Cornish is spoken in Cornwall, yes, as a minority language.
     

    seanos

    Member
    English - Australia
    I'll just add to this. Síreacht in Irish means longing. Hiraeth is all of the following: homesickness, grief for a lost or departed person or thing, longing.

    As far as I'm aware, there isn't one word in Irish or English that means all of those at once.

    Cumha is probably the Irish word for this. I don’t think síreacht in that sense is really a live word.

    I find these “there is no word for X” memes rather irritating as they’re almost always overstated.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    Cumha is probably the Irish word for this. I don’t think síreacht in that sense is really a live word.

    I find these “there is no word for X” memes rather irritating as they’re almost always overstated.

    It's not a meme to state that there is no single word in one language which encompasses all meanings of a word in another. Another example of this is the English word "row" which has many meanings and doesn't have a one-word equivalent in Welsh which encompasses all of those.

    Cumha is used for places, not people. For a person we would say cronaigh in Irish. You can use hiraeth for both people and places. Hiraeth is perfectly encompassed in the Portuguese word saudade, which is also good for people and places.
     
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