Irish Language Blog

An bhfuil peata agat?  Talking about Pets in Irish Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Remember when we talked about hamstair and their gothaí gnúise gleoite, not to mention their “rothaí“?  Hmm, a ngothaí agus a rothaí! — this is the first time I ever got to link up those two words!   And we have, at various times in this blog, talked about different types of pets (madraí, cait, srl.).

So I figured we’d start an occasional series on pets.  Since we looked at coiníní fiáine in the last post, let’s begin with a pet rabbit (peata coinín), as you see in the picture above.  Eventually we’ll continue with other pets, such as cait, madraí, éin, éisc, ioguánaí, seirbilí, muca guine, and at some point we’ll probably do “hamstair redux” although they were pretty thoroughly covered previously.  And of course other suggestions from readers would be welcome. And if we’re feeling a little extraterrestrial at some point, we might consider “*targanna” and “*tribilí” and “*sehlait,” to attempt to Gaelicize some Star Trek terms.

But for now, let’s stick to “an domhan” and look at some typical pets that humans might have, or that “own” them, as some might say.

Last time, we looked at most of the forms of the word for rabbit, such as: an coinín, lapa an choinín, na coiníní, lapaí na gcoiníní.  So let’s look at an interesting feature of the rabbit pictured above — it’s “spadchluasach” (lop-eared), meaning it has ears that droop.

The word “spadchluasach” is interesting in its own right.  The “-c(h)luasach” part is straightforward enough:

cluas, ear; an chluas, the ear; na cluasa, the ears, srl.

-c(h)luasach: “-eared,” which occurs in various other compound words, such as:

fadchluasach, long-eared

gearrchluasach, short-eared

leathchluasach, one-eared

maolchluasach, crop-eared or droop-eared (two seemingly different concepts!)

Not that all descriptions of ears include the element “-chluasach” (the lenited term).  The word “catach,” for example, means both “cat-eared” (logically enough), and curiously, “dog-eared.”

Getting back to the word “spadchluasach,” the curious thing is that the “spad-” part is pretty obscure.  For all the other compound words listed above, we can easily pick out both parts of the compound:  fad, length (cf. fada, long); gearr, short; leath-, half; and maol, bald, tonsured, blunt, bare, cropped, flattened, or obtuse.  The one thing “maol” doesn’t normally mean is “drooping” — that would typically be “cromtha” or “ligthe síos” or “íslithe” or “sleabhctha.”  So far, I haven’t really found anything that completely explains the “spad-” part of “spadchluasach.”  The closest I see are a few presumably related words:

spadchosach, slow-footed, flat-footed (from spadchos, flat-foot)

spadintinneach, slow-witted

spadliath, dull gray

spadach, heavy and wet

These all seem to have a negative connotation, whereas I don’t really see anything negative about being “lop-eared.’  Barúil ar bith eile ag duine ar bith agaibhse?

And how to find out if someone has a pet?  Here’s a basic, very useful question structure:

An bhfuil peata agat? (Do you have a pet?)

And the two typical answers, (yes), or níl (no).

Tá, tá ___________ agam  OR Níl peata ar bith agam.

So we could have a mionchomhrá like:

A: An bhfuil peata agat?

B: Tá, tá coinín agam.

A: Cén sórt coinín é agus cén dath atá air?

B: Is coinín spadchluasach Dúitseach é agus tá sé donn.   (ag tarraingt amach a ghutháin chliste).  Seo pictiúr de. 

A: Ó, nach bhfuil sé gleoite?   Cén t-ainm atá air?

B: _____________ is ainm dó. 

NB: I left the pet rabbit’s name blank in hopes that someone would suggest one we could use.  Moladh ar bith agatsa? 

And speaking of “moltaí,” any suggestions for the next pet for this series? SGF  – Róislín

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