An Caitín Beag, and how to pronounce it

An Caitín Beag is Irish for The Little Small Cat, or The Wee Small Cat, or The Tiny Little Cat, or any other variation on diminutive felines that you fancy putting together.

It breaks down like this: An means The, Cait is cat, and the -ín at the end makes it a small cat. Beag also means small, or little.

And it pronounces like: On Cat-een BeUG.

The ín / een is interesting. It’s added to nouns as a diminutive – making them smaller, or younger (or female, thanks the patriarchy).

Young beasts often get an -een. So my caitín could be a kitten, and not a small cat. A cat óg (prounounced cat ogh, meaning young cat) would also be a kitten. Or – and this is one of best words ever – piscín also means kitten. That’s pronounced pish-keen, and it’s such a kittenish word! A duck is a lacha, and a duckling is a lachín, as another example. A little house (teach) is a teachín. A little road, or path, is a bóithrín (or boreen). The -een is very common in names, too. – especially girls’ names. Roisín means little rose, Realtín is little star.

The accent over i is known as a fada. It only appears on vowels, and it elongates them. (I was always appalling at remembering to add it. I still am, and I just use it on the one word nowdays.) But it can be essential for telling words apart. Ceád (prononced kayd) means a hundred, cead (pronounced key-ad) means permisson.

Small disclaimer: I haven’t used Irish for YEARS and I might have errors here! Also I’m terrible at trying to write out pronunciations. Happy to take correction, or to try to answer any questions, though!