Deiseal agus tuathal
Yesterday we discussed the Irish words deiseal (/ˈdʲɛʃəl/) and tuathal (/’tuəhəl/) in class. Deiseal means clockwise, dextral, right-hand, rightward, starboard, and tuathal means the opposite: anticlockwise, sinistral left-hand, leftward, port.
Some examples of usage:
- bogadh ar deiseal = to go in a clockwise direction
- dul deiseal = to go in a rightward direction
- fad is a bheas grian ag dul deiseal = whilst the sun follows its course
- ag bogadh ar tuathal = going in an anticlockwise direction
- cúl tuathail = own goal
They are related to the course of the sun, and date back to a time when the sun was thought to move around the earth from east to west. The course of the sun was considered the correct, right and good direction or deiseal, while the opposite direction tuathal was considered the wrong and bad direction. Buildings were built facing towards the rising sun, and adhering to these directions was thought to bring luck and prosperity.
The word deasil also exists in English, though isn’t commonly used. The opposite is widdershins or withershins.
Deiseal comes from the Old Irish word dessel, which means ‘direction of the sun, right-hand course, and comes from dess (right) and sel (turn).
Tuathal comes from the Old Irish word túaithbel, which means ‘a turning lefthandwise, against the sun, withershins’ and is a combination of túath (northern; left, on the left; perverse, wicked, evil) and sel (turn).
Do other languages have words for directions with similar roots?