Translating Irish. What's this mean?

My verry funny (grown) granddaughter sent me a postcard from Dublin with a cartoon picture of a donkey showing off his tail end. The caption reads “Pog mo Thoin”, which she explains on the message side means “Kiss my Ass”. So I put it in Google translate, and that is indeed what it means.
What I want to know is whether it means ass as in “donkey” or ass as in “buttocks” in Irish. Or both, as it does in the USA.

Interesting. Google translate for the phrase is as you said, but for the separate words is “kiss,” “my,” and “tones.” Tones?

Trying English to Irish, arse translates to “asal” – and so does donkey. :confused: Buttocks gives “masa,” rear end gives"deireadh chúl," jackass and burro give “jackass” and “burro.”

Pog mo thoin, on Google translate to French, German, Dutch, and Italian comes up as “kiss my ass” – which sure as hell ain’t French, German, Dutch, or Italian.

Methinks something is amiss with the translator.

When one back-translates:

Donkey is “Asal”.

Buttocks is “Masa”.

“Thoin” alone comes back as “tunes”.

I see. But whoever sold her the card translated the phrase as "kiss my ass’, which fits with the attitude of the card.
My precious granddaughter would never make up such a thing. :wink:
BTW; she fell in love with Dublin. She seriously wants to a waitress in a traditional pub!

Googling turns it up as meaning “kiss my ass” with “butt” as the specific meaning, but I don’t know if it has a double meaning at all.

I simply googled the phrase, and most all agreed that it means “kiss my ass”.
This “talkie” is pretty interesting.

“Tunes” comes back as “foinn”

“Tunning” comes back as “A dheanamh ar”

That’s not getting us anywhere.

“thoin” comes back at “ton” in French; “voce” in Latin; “Tone” in German; “choi” (transliterated) in Greek; “tonos” in Spanish; “toni” in Italian; “arlliwiau” in Welsh.

These all translate into “tones” in English, except “voce” which comes back as ‘with the voice of’ and the Greek, which I must have copied wrong.

The only conclusion I can come to is that “Kiss my tones” is a vulgar epithet in Irish.

It’s the common meaning in at least two languages that kind of surprises me. Where’s Robert MacNeil when I need him? :wink:

It’s the acute mark over the “o”. “Thóin” does indeed translate as “ass” in English. It also translates into “burro” in Portuguese, which is donkey, and “Esel” in German, which comes back in English as “donkey”, too.

The only Irish I know is a quaint expression typically uttered by someone who’s surprised or amazed. Phonetically written it’s something along the lines of:

Whale oil beef hooked!

(I’m told it helps to say it aloud)


Does a majority of people who speak Irish speak English? The phrase may not have been developed in both languages, but may have been adopted by one and translated.

The unusual aspect - I think - would be that the phrase was translated. Most adopted phrases - bete-noir, apparachik, mano-a-mano - are not.

Okay, mano a mano is a particularly bad example.

Well, you blow tunes out of your arse!

Interesting. From Irish to Polish, it comes back as “tylek,” which has the butt meaning of the word, not the donkey meaning.

“Ass” for the beast of burden is the original word. The other usages come from that. So translations that yield animal references aren’t contradicting usages that refer to cloddish people or rear ends.

So to answer the OP: the word can mean both, but the phrase assuredly refers to rear ends. Illustrating it with a donkey picture is thus a kind of bilingual pun.

Sorry, better explanation: “thóin” is posterior, “asal” is donkey–but the connotations of the asal/ass go back centuries. First the dimwit, later the bottom. So my understanding is that “thóin” beside a donkey would be comprehensible in Irish too, through the associations of “asal.” I can imagine the donkey had sort of a dopey look on his face as well.

The Irish word is actually tóin. It becomes thóin when preceded by certain words, including some of the possessive adjectives like mo.

It means “ass” as in buttocks. There are no donkey-like connotations at all according to my dictionary.

Yes. Many grew up bilingual, some learned English at school; a few older people have difficulty speaking English, and some speak no English at all - but they’re usually pretty elderly. The one who amazed me the most was my ex’s uncle, who managed to live and work for 16 years in England without picking up more than about 20 words in English.

It may be more instructive to translate the phrase as “kiss my arse” rather than “ass”, to remove any ambiguity. It’s a very well-known phrase, and is where the group The Pogues got their name.

But am I not right that “asal” carries the same three-way meaning as “ass” in English? So the linkage between buttocks and donkey would be understood from the Irish side?

No. Any arse = ass pun comes via English. In Irish asal is only ever the animal. Tóin (thóin in the phrase mo thóin) is no kind of animal, though an asal (donkey) has a tóin (rump). Enough Irish are familiar with English, and asal sounds enough like asshole / arsehole, to make a bilingual pun, but it doesn’t work in Irish alone.

Okay. I was pretty sure that the linkage I described was referenced in Last of the Donkey Pilgrims (though O’Hara is firm that his donkey is no fool)… but I may have mixed it up somehow.