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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:46 pm

• leprechaun •

Pronunciation: le-prê-kahn • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A mythical Irish elfin, one of the mischievous Little People of Irish folklore with a purse, the contents of which are given to anyone who catches one.

Notes: There 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 pronounced [aw] in some dialects and [a] in others. It's only spelled AU in all dialects. There is an adjective, should you see someone resembling one of the wee folk: leprechaunish "like a leprechaun".

In Play: We thought we would explore a word of Irish origin to wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's: "Twasn't me, mum, who broke the lamp, but a leaping laughing 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 Latin borrowing that attests to the Catholic Church's influence on the language. The Irish Gaelic luprachán 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 lú "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" (as in levity) and in Russian lëgkiy "light". With a Fickle N, it also emerged in English as lungs, which are still called lights in some regions when applied to farm animals. Why is that, you ask? It's because they floated to the surface of the water in the tub where the innards were being washed when a hog was slaughtered and cleaned in times gone by.
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Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:06 pm

Although I am an unabashed Celt, the little people have never much appealed to me. The legends are good for a bit of fun. I wonder why Leprechauns didn't make it into Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".

The Good Doctor's Word History is what drew me to this Good Word discussion. Lights for lungs takes me back to a childhood were hog killing was a gala affair. It is true that every bit of the pig was used except for its squeal. The Good Doctor seems to have some Carolina memories.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:57 am

Tolkien seems to me to be more enamored with
his own creations: Ents, Orcs,Hobbits and the like.
Elves he used, but no gremlins, leprechauns or

Leprechauns are probably prevalent in some form
in many culture, not so much a "wee folk" but
the "trickster". Norse had Loki among their pantheon.
Native Americans had one form or another among
Iktomi (spider) and Coyote: tricksters. I would imagine
there are others.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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