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