Politics Racism

The True Meaning of Tacsaí on Our Taxi Signs

For the last five or six years, some of our taxis have borne a new word on their signs: Tacsaí.

tacsai 1

What does Tacsaí mean?

Clearly it can’t be a phonetic representation of the word Taxi, which is used all over the world in every language.  Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Irish-language spelling would know that Tacsaí sounds something like Toxy.  A schoolchild would know that.  To get the phonetics right, it would have to be spelled Taicsí, but it isn’t and I wondered why.

At first, when I noticed these signs, I found them mildly annoying but no more than that.  I assumed that they were simply the result of some ignorant  fool who speaks not a word of Irish trying to use the language as a political statement.  You get a lot of that: people who die for Ireland every Saturday night in their favourite pub, singing along to some Wolfe Tones tribute band, getting quietly scuttered and truculent before blundering home to beat the missus.    I call them the  Hareenarawnies from the way they pronounce their version of the national anthem.

For or five or six years, I allowed the low-level irritation to simmer below the surface because, after all, it wouldn’t be the first time some fool decided to appropriate and mangle the Irish language, but I was wrong, and today it dawned on me why.

Tacsaí doesn’t mean Taxi at all, and it doesn’t mean For Hire.

Tacsaí is a completely different word from Taicsí— and you won’t find it in Dinneen’s dictionary.

What’s the difference?

Simple.  Taicsí is an unfortunate attempt to render the universal word Taxi in the Irish-language spelling.  It means Taxi.

Tacsaí, on the other hand, means Not Black.

That’s what Tacsaí means.  Not Black.

Next time you approach a taxi rank, remember this.  You heard it here first.




26 replies on “The True Meaning of Tacsaí on Our Taxi Signs”

Zoo = Zu
Fuse = Fius
Museum = Musaem

Thank God that we have clever creative citizens who can dream up alternative spellings to distinguish our mother tongue from the foreign English. They might instead have wasted their lives on useless endeavours like developing medicines to make people better or products that people might want to use.

I would love to meet the total asshole who came up with the word “Taicsí” he/she really needs to get out more often, rather than spending their days sitting in front of their ríomhaire deisce (desktop computer) or their ríomhaire glúine (laptop) trawling the Idirghréasán (Internet) looking for words that they can translate and post on

If however, the use of the abortion of a word indicates to me, that the taxi driver is an Irish person trying to make a living in his/her own country, as disticnt from a foreign person who has decided that this country owes him/her a living, then, it will at least serve some purpose.

Before the PC brigade get on their high horse with claims of “racist” let me assure them I am not a racist, I am howevr a “Non Multiculturalist” and make no apology for it, and I will decide how and with whom I spend my money, perhaps if more of our citizens did the same we would have a lot less unemployed Irish people, and we would not have the need to issue 5542 PPS numbers to Brazilian citizens in 2012

Oh Shit. Would that be ironic if a black taxi driver was driving one?
I once had a black man tell me he wasn’t black he was brown.
(He was so black, he was navy) Sorry.

This is all so terrible.

jbkenn, Isn’t “non multiculturalism” just another name for bigotry? Surely the Brazilian citizens you refer to who acquired PPS numbers last year were entitled to them, that is usually why they’re issued. What do they have to do with this post anyway?

I hate made up Irish words. All signs at UCG (in my day, bones creak…..) had to be in Irish and English. The stupidest one was photocopeaileacht for photocopying. Sometimes a word just isn’t Irish. Like buffet. Just eat the damn food.

“Zoo = Zu
Fuse = Fius
Museum = Musaem”

“photocopeaileacht for photocopying”

“Saitilít? Hipideirmic”

All of these words are derived from Greek or Latin. Most languages will take classical roots and modify them to fit the standard spelling structure of their languages.

And Taicsí would be takshee – slender S. Tacsaí is pronounced taxi – toxy would be “teacsaí”

How do you feel about the hybrid-bastarding (as I put it) where you have a name coined which is half Gaelic, half English? I speak of course of the deplorable ‘saor-view’.. Its either freeview Or saorvíu don’t you think?

I think Gaeilge is a beautiful but essentially dead language. Creating makey-uppy hybrid words isn’t going to save it. It should be a specialist choice subject in school. We need to be teaching our primary school children the basics of languages such as Chinese , Spanish, German etc. Many teachers recognize that hijacking primary education with Irish and religious studies is at the cost of standards in science, mathematics and the living languages that European schoolchildren excel at. It is humbling when you can have a conversation in English with a teenage Dutch or German child who speaks English using a more complex vocabulary and with better diction than most Irish children. Sin sceil eile.

My fondest memory of a dear auld Dubalin Taisci driver was some years back. He first started going on about the amount of foreigners coming over to Ireland and taking our jobs and taking our benefits as well. All well and good I says to myself its been a good night, I’ll let it be. But no, he then starts to go on about his brother working on the sites in London and signing on at three different dole offices. He’s making a fortune. You’ll never beat the Irish for hypocrisy.

Who ever did it may be attached either to Clare county council or possibly that with Gay Byrne shower of bully-boys; the NRA.
The road signs that direct passing travelers to Lahinch in west Clare have for the same number of years as the Tacsaí creation been directing travelers to a place called Lehinch.
Most peculiar.

Back when i was in St Clements………… my very wise Irish teacher Mr Siochru who was a genius of a man had a issue with this very same thing… coming from the gaetacht he didnt believe that words like Zu should be just transplanted in to the Irish language…. It being so close to my leaving cert i arrived in front of his desk and demanded to know what i should say instead. I was asked a question by my teacher….. Which do you thinks sounds nicer and inspires the imagination more. Gairdin Na hAinmhithe or Zu…… I stopped for a second and realised his point. Nothing can be translated verbatim from one language to another and foor that reason we shouldnt even try.

P.S. It personally thought it was a fantastic point made by a wonderful teacher who managed to instill a love of the language in all his students despite most of us hating it……

Cheers Sioccy

Awful to read comments like Gaeilge is a dead language.
Awful to read Gaeilge and religious studies used in the same sentence.
There appears to be a lot of Irish people who see the Irish language as some sort of useless legacy from the past that we should rid ourselves of, as soon as possible.
Also a lot of so called liberals who see the Irish language and religion, in particular the catholic church as one and the same thing. Or worse still some sort of evil language that is only spoken by die hard catholic nationalists.
I think these are sad and very misguided opinions.
I wonder Is it an inbuilt shame of being Irish and speaking Irish that we have inherited from our peasant ancestors?
Anyway Tacsai/Toxy sound great if you are from the south side of Dublin, roight?

@LJS – well said. I wish I could remember what I learned in school, but every time I try I remember with something approaching physical nausea how it was rammed down my throat by rabid, nationalist teachers, the deathly boring sub-standard period poetry and literature we had to endure….nothing wrong with the language, everything wrong with how it was/is taught in my school at least.

I agree Steve. I would love to see the language taught orally to young children for at least the first 3 years at school to allow the children develop an aptitude for the sound of the language using just every day events in the childrens lives, as the class subjects. We should also create a classroom environment whereby the children develop a natural love for speaking the language. After this period then they will learn to read and write in Irish. I do genuinely believe that deep in the phyche of the Irish mind we have been programmed to believe that the Irish language is the language of the fool.

We programmed ourselves to believe that. Let’s start taking responsibility for our own actions so that we can move on and take ownership of the problem. After all, the Welsh have managed to revive their language whereas our own Gaeltacht areas have steadily shrunk since 1921.

Did you know that Kilronan in Inis Mór has been English-speaking for nearly two centuries, and furthermore that the inhabitants of that fine hamlet looked down on their Irish-speaking cousins a hundred yards up the road?

If you believe that we alone “programmed ourselves to do that” as you put it. Then you need to share with me the answer to the big question, Why? Why would a nation, a tribe, whatever you wish to call it, decide to turn its back on its own language, all by itself. Why?
Take off the blinkers bock. We were a conquered people, surely the conqueror may have had some small influence with regards to an entire people turning its back on its native language. I am not suggesting that we did not have our fare share of uncle toms, to aid the process. In fact the great catholic church was high on the list when it came to ridiculing the Irish language once they got their feet under the desk at maynooth college. But its nothing short of naive to suggest that we did that all by ourselves. Why did the people of Kilronan look down on their Irish speaking cousins? Is it because their cousins spoke the language of the fool? People normally “look down” on what they perceive to be foolish behaviour.

I try not to make the comments here personal, because it impedes rational debate. Therefore if you don’t mind I’ll wait until somebody can convince me I’m wearing blinkers instead of just accusing me of it.

The Kilronan people looked down on their Irish-speaking neighbours because they perceived it to be the language not of the fool but of the poor. For the avoidance of all doubt, and in case you say I’m also blinkered about this, it isn’t my my personal view. I’m simply repeating to you what I was told by my friends in the Aran Islands, regarding their own family histories.

Sometimes we can all be accused of wearing blinkers when it comes to personal opinions. But nothing personal was meant. If I had said that you are blinkered in your approach to most things, then that would be personal. Again I stress nothing personal was intended. If offence was taken, then please accept my sincere apology.
How did the language of Kings, Earls, Historians, Mathematicians, Scientists, Poets, Musicians and the tribe become the language of the poor in so short a period of time?
Did we program ourselves to make this happen? If we did, why?
It was you who suggested that we did this ourselves. In my opinion this is a blinkered view point and does not reflect the whole story.

No offence taken, my friend.

Of course it doesn’t reflect the whole story, but that’s the point. Certainly, colonialism is part of the explanation, but to attribute all ills to it is simplistic and out of line with the facts. I think if we Irish didn’t have an oppressor, we’d need to invent one so that we could feel hard done by.

I think the huge social dislocation of the famine was one factor, but another was the perception that speaking English was the way to prosperity, just as it’s perceived to be so throughout the world these days. Combine that perception with the propensity to shame, mentioned in a previous post and I’m coming close to telling you my understanding of the dynamic.

As regards kings and earls, you are of course talking about feudal chieftains who cared as little for the Irish poor as the English kings and earls did. And when they ended their squabble with their fellow mega-rich aristos from the neighbouring island, the only ones left were the poor. Incidentally, as I understand it, these Irish kings and earls were in fact bilingual or even trilingual.

Let me make a parallel. In the last couple of decades, young people have abandoned traditional local accents in favour of a painful and homogenised mid-Atlantic whine. Why? Because their parents’ accents, I suspect, are associated in their snobbish little minds, with backwardness. It’s not as trivial a comparison as might appear at first glance and I think it reveals the same mindset that led the Irish people to continue abandoning their language long after the British had left. After all, nobody is preventing kids from speaking Irish and yet almost none of them choose to do so.

We’re not the only ones –

The British did put restrictions on the use of Gaelic and it was seen as barbaric by them.

To give the U.S. as an example also, you wouldn’t come across many – if any – third generation Americans who were taught Polish, Italian, German etc from their parents, passed down through the grandparents.
It was a case of losing their native language asap as soon as the boat docked.

In terms of the appropriation of the Irish language, I think any living language evolves. I’ve heard native speakers in Donegal speaking a total weird sounding combination of Irish and English together.

Languages and accents evolve. We still are and sound Irish to any non Irish person.

I’ll have my army of researchers executed immediately.

You’ll have to help me with your information though. Is this phonetic representation of Taxi taken from Dinneen’s dictionary? I couldn’t see any reference to 1904 in the page, though I don’t doubt you for a minute. It’s just that Foras na Gaeilge has hardly covered itself in glory when it comes to transliteration. This is the body that gave us Saitilít and Hipidearmaic, straight from the English Hippydermic, no doubt. Irish is a very regular language when it comes to spelling, and Tacsaí breaks all the rules if anyone thinks it’s pronounced the same as Taxi.

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