Saturday, 12 February 2011

Millennia Women Research Diary


    I love this word, I love the look of it, I would love to use it in the title of my book. The working title of my book is Millennia Women. Look up millennia; this is a good word too. Visually Mná does it for me. Can you imagine walking into Waterstones and there on the ‘hot’ table is a book with Mná on the cover. I do believe it’s intriguing enough to make you pick it up.
     The word is dangerous. It is dangerous in three respects, and I may increase this number. It is dangerous first of all for me because it is an Irish word and my knowledge of the Irish language is nonexistent. But I like a bit of danger. Do something dangerous every day I read somewhere. I know this is not to be taken literally. I think it just means challenge yourself and that’s a good argument for anyone, but let’s stick with the word for now. So I have to be exactly right in its meaning and usage. Online Irish dictionaries revealed nothing. The only reference I could trek down on the net was Government documents. So it must be an Irish word that is not in common usage. I have arranged time with an Irish language development officer to figure all of this out. She knows of a song with the word in it, so I am encouraged.
     If you are English speaking and you are on holiday in Ireland you will see this word on the toilets, and if you are a man you will be forgiven for thinking you know where you are going. Equally if you are a woman, you will see ‘Fir’ so again you may be forgiven that this somehow or other relates to female. Mná is plural for woman or ladies, and Fir is gentlemen. I hope I have got my first Irish lesson right. The danger here is whether the word only therefore link people’s minds to unfortunate experiences in toilets. Or maybe I worry too much.
     The next danger it reveals how our minds try to make sense of something by taking it to where we are coming from. I love how this word about women looks like it is closer to man. And I love that the meaning of man is somewhat confused. Most people consider man to mean humans of the male gender. However if we go into the etymology of the word in previous centuries it meant ‘human.’ Visually mná shares this confusion, but I expect to find its etymology is quite different.
     So will I use Mná in the title? Will I take a measured risk and jump in the deep end? It gets deeper. I am standing north up the coast from the Cliffs of Moher.  Have you been there? Nearly 400 feet above the sea. There are whales close in and the water is prussian blue. Does this mean the seabed drops down as far as the cliffs go up? What else is going on down there? How deep is a word? 

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