Irish Language Blog

An bhfuil peata agat?  Talking about Pets in Irish: Seirbilí agus Muca Guine (Gerbils and Guinea Pigs) Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We could say that “Peataí go leor” has been our recent “téama,” and we’ve covered the following so far: cait, piscíní, madraí, pearóidí, hamstair.

Next we’ll take up a couple more popular pets: seirbilí agus muca guine.

Actually, for years, I checked all the available Irish dictionaries for the Irish for “gerbil” and all I could find was “gearbú” (jerboa), which has virtually nothing in common with “seirbilí,” except for both being part of the order RodentiaeGearbúnna are not widely kept as pets, at least not outside of their natural habitat, since there are restrictions against importing them (at least to the US) and they apparently do not breed well in captivity.  But somehow, the body of the jerboa reminds me a bit of a gerbil, so today’s post will cover the words for all three animals: an tseirbil, an mhuc ghuine, and, for good measure, an gearbú.

Starting with seirbilí:

an tseirbil, the gerbil

na seirbile, of the gerbil; eireaball na seirbile, the tail of the gerbil

na seirbilí, the gerbils

na seirbilí, of the gerbils (same spelling as above), eireabaill na seirbilí, the tails of the gerbils

Note that the letter “t-” is prefixed to the basic form, for saying “the gerbil” but the “t” is not used for “of the gerbil” or for the plural forms.

An bhfuil seirbilí mar pheataí ag duine ar bith ar an liosta seo?

Next, na muca guine:

an mhuc ghuine, the guinea pig (note the change from “guine,” the Irish for “guinea,” to “ghuine.”  Why?  Because “muc” (pig) is grammatically feminine and causes the same mutation for all adjectives that might follow it: muc mhór, muc bheag, muc bhándearg, etc.)

na muice guine, of the guinea pig; fiacla na muice guine, the teeth of the guinea pig

na muca guine, the guinea pigs

na muc guine, of the guinea pigs; fiacla na muc guine

An bhfuil muca guine mar pheataí ag duine ar bith ar an liosta seo?

Caveat: I just Googled “muice guine” to look for some in-context examples and came up with a very odd assortment of probably machine-translated phrases scrambling all different combinations of muc, mhuc, muice, and muca, with guine and ghuine. While I don’t want to dwell on the issues of the accuracy of informal Irish on the Internet, I will say that I notice things like putting “guine” before “muc” (breaking Irish word order) or using the masculine form (“an“) of “the” in a possessive phrase, when it should be the feminine form (“na“), remember, because “muc” itself is grammatically feminine. So I have a new theory — maybe the cuter the animal that people want to write about (and a lot of the examples I found are associated with playful games and cute videos), the more prone people are to just grabbing any form of some words they can find and putting them in the sentence structure of their native language (often English), disregarding rules of grammatical gender, singular and plural matching, and position within the sentence.  And then they post it, and at first it might look like, oh, cool, there’s an animated video of a cute gerbil dancing, with some text in Irish, and then you analyze the caption and realize it’s like a word salad.  Well, anyway, so much for the “clamhsán” and back to foirmeacha na bhfocal.

I didn’t originally intend to include jerboas in this post, but they’re gleoite and they are creimirí, even if they’re not widely owned as pets around here, so why not:

an gearbú, the jerboa

an ghearbú, of the jerboa, cosa fada iontacha an ghearbú, the amazing long legs of the jerboa

na gearbúnna, the jerboas

na ngearbúnna, of the jerboas; cluasa móra iontacha na ngearbúnna fadchluasacha, the amazing big ears of the long-eared jerboas

An bhfuil gearbúnna mar pheataí ag duine ar bith ar an liosta seo?  Má tá, cé na hainmneacha a chuir tú orthu?  De réir na físe seo (, tugtar leasainm a chiallaíonn “núdal-léim-léim” ar na gearbúnna sa teanga Casaicise.  Céard faoi “núdal” mar ainm do cheann acu agus “léim-léim” don cheann eile (má tá péire agat)?  Ach, ar ndóigh, is annamh a choinnítear mar pheataí iad taobh amuigh dena ngnáthóga nádúrtha.

Interesting, to me at least, that in gaelicizing the words “gerbil” and “jerboa,” which have the same initial “g/j” sound as in “giant” or “jug,” we end up with a slender inital “s” (pronounced like English “sh”) for “seirbil” and initial “g” (pronounced like the “g” in “argue”) for “gearbú.”  Well, as I’m fond of saying, wonders never cease.

By the way, the captions for the graphic above mean:

Which is bigger — the gerbil or the guinea pig?  The guinea pig answers, “[It is] me that is bigger.”

The jerboa asks, “Hey!  What about me?” [since he wasn’t part of the original question].

The gerbil wonders [in his thought balloon], “What is that strange animal in the box below?”

SGF agus ná bíodh aon leisce ort scríobh isteach má bhíonn seirbil nó muc ghuine nó gearbú mar pheata agat.  Nó peata ar bith, fiú.  B’fhéidir gur mhaith leat pictiúr de do pheata a bheith mar ghnéghrianghraf i mblagmhír éigin anseo sa todhchaí.  Más féidir leat nasc de do phictiúr de do pheata a sheoladh chugam, sílim go mbeidh mé ábalta é a phostáil.  Hmm, b’fhéidir go mbeidh liosta feithimh againn, fiú.  — Róislín

gluaisín: feitheamh, waiting; fiú, for that matter, even; gné, feature; todhchaí, future

Blagmhíreanna faoi hamstair agus peataí eile: 

An bhfuil peata agat? Talking about Pets in Irish: Hamstair (hamsters) Posted by  on Jul 24, 2017 in Irish Language

 Which Celtic Language Has 5 Words for ‘Hamster’ (Leid: Ní hí an Ghaeilge í!)?Posted by róislín on Jan 28, 2016 in Irish Language

Comhrá: Searbhán an tSeirbil agus Hamaltún an Hamstar ag caint faoina gcásanna Posted by róislín on Jan 31, 2016 in Irish Language

Irish Vocabulary Round-up for ‘Comhrá idir Hamstar agus Seirbil’ Posted by róislín on Feb 6, 2016 in Irish Language

Naisc (previous pet-themed blogposts): cait agus madraí agus pearóidí

Aghaidheanna Cat (Faces of Cats) — Their Main Features in Irish Posted by róislín on Jun 25, 2017 in Irish Language; An bhfuil peata agat?  Talking about Pets in Irish: Piscíní (Kittens) Posted by róislín on Jun 16, 2017 in Irish Language 

An bhfuil peata agat?  Talking about Pets in Irish: Madraí (Dogs) Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in Irish Language 

An bhfuil peata agat? Talking about Pets in Irish: Pearóidí (parrots) Posted by  on Jul 21, 2017 in Irish Language

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