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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:54 pm

• leprechaun •

Pronunciation: le-prê-kahn

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A mythical Irish elfin, one of the mischievous Little People of Irish folklore with secrets to hidden treasure they share with those who catch them.

Notes: TThere are several spelling traps in this word, beginning with the second E, which is often miswritten as A. Next, look out for the CH which is pronounced [k], and, finally, the AU, which might be spelled [aw] in some dialects and [a], in others. (It is only spelled AU in all dialects.) There is an adjective, should you see someone resembling one of the wee folk: leprechaunish.

In Play: Everyone is Irish today, so we thought we would explore another word of Irish origin and wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's: "Twasn't me, mum, who broke the lamp, but a leaping little leprechaun who doesn't respect other people's property." The leprechauns do come out at night to figure in whatever mischief there is: "Well, doesn't he come home then in the wee small hours with that leprechaunish grin on his face!"

Word History: Nothing seems more Irish than the Gaelic word, leprechaun but lurking inside this word is a rare Latin borrowing. The Irish Gaelic luprachán, is a variation of Middle Irish luchrupán, which goes back to Old Irish luchorpán. This word is luchorp from lú- "small" + corp "body"—from Latin corpus 'body" + -án, a diminutive suffix. The Gaelic lu "small" is a radically reduced form of PIE *legwh- "light, having little weight" of which English light is a historical paronym. In Latin it emerged as levis "light" and in Russian lëgkiy "light". With a fickle [n], it also emerged in English as lungs which, not long ago, were called lights.
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Postby tcward » Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:46 pm

PIE *legwh- "light, having little weight"

Is this also the source of English less...?

Apparently not: PIE leu-


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Postby Stargzer » Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:35 am

Speaking of the Little People . . .

. . . there is a restaurant in nearby Laurel, Maryland, know as the Irish Pizza Pub (originally Delaney's Irish Pizza Pub--which used to offer Membership Applications to the M.A.F.I.A.--the Mothers And Fathers Italian Association :wink: ).

The resident Leprechaun there is Sammy Ross, who also appeared in several movies (including The Top Man (1943) with Donald O'Connor, as one of Borrah Minevitch's Rascals (a comic harmonica ensemble), and The War Lord (1965) with Charleton Heston, as the falconer Volc).

In Sammy's own words:
Sammy enjoys celebrating his “Irish heritage” in his routine, even though he’s Jewish. “OK, I’m half-Irish,” goes his usual gag. “If I were taller I’d be all-Irish. Of course we’re Irish. Have you ever heard of an Italian lebrechaun? A Jewish leprechaun would be called leprecohen.”

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