Irish Language Blog

An Iarmhír “-ach” sa Chúigiú Díochlaonadh: Beoir (Beer) vs. Beorach (of Beer), srl. Posted by on Jun 3, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We’ve recently seen one pattern for the 5th category of Irish nouns (an cúigiú díochlaonadh), which involved dropping the “i” of words like máthair, athair, deartháir, and bráthair.

As you may recall, that change results in phrases like the following (aistriúcháin thíos):

a) gach mac máthar

b) in ainm an Athar

c) carr an dearthár

d) Cill an Bhráthar, as in the place names Cill an Bhráthar Theas and Cill an Bhráthar Thuaidh, both i gContae Chorcaí. 

Let’s now look at another pattern for 5th-declension nouns:

beoir (beer); buidéal beorach (a bottle of beer); na beoracha (the beers)

cathair (city); lár na cathrach (the center of the city); na cathracha (the cities)

Here, as you probably noticed, we drop the “i” before the final “r” (“broadening” the r) and add “-ach” for the genitive singular.  This is the form to use for phrases like “of beer” or “of the city.”

A variation on this pattern adds “-each” and keeps the “i” (keeping the “slenderness” of the “r”)

cathaoir (chair); luach na cathaoireach (the price of the chair); na cathaoireacha (the chairs)

In both cases, for the plural, we keep the “-ach/-each” ending and add a suffix (“-a”) to it.  Suffixing the suffix!

While this pattern enables us to make some predictions for other 5th-declension nouns, it’s not as though there’s any magic formula that would enable learners to experience constant “nóiméidí hahá.”  For examples, just by learning the pattern for “cathair,” you can’t apply that wholesale to “cathaoir,” since “cathaoir” retains its full second syllable (-aoir), while “cathair” gets shortened.  You may well have seen the phrase “lár na cathrach,” referring to the “city center.”  Did you also notice that the letters “-ai-“ had been dropped, leaving us with “cathrach”?

Care to try the following?  Freagraí thíos.

nathair (snake); goineoga na __________ (of the snake, singular); na _____________ (plural)

uimhir (number); de réir na ___________ adamhaí (of the atomic number, singular); na ____________ (plural)

And this one might be quite familiar.  It follows the same pattern, even though the ending is “-in” instead of “-ir.”

traein (a train),

an stáisiún _______________ (the train station)

na _______________ (the trains)

Another “-in” example, this time a two-syllable noun keeping its middle syllable (like “cathaoir”), thank you very much!  But, fainic (!), there is “leathnú”

coróin (a crown, either the royal headgear, or the crown coin, in use pre-decimalization)

bonn _______________ (a crown coin, i.e. a five-shilling piece)

na ________________ (the crowns)

That’s it for this sub-pattern, at least for now.  Unless I hear some clamoring for samplaí le “cabhail,” “cráin,” agus “siúr,” agus a leithéidí.  SGF, ó Róislín

Aistriúcháin: a) every mother’s son, lit. every son of a mother; b) in the name of the Father; c) the car of the brother; d) Killabraher South and Killabraher North.  Notice how the anglicized versions of the place name “Killabraher” reflect the pronunciation of the “-th-“ in the Irish itself (-aher, with the “-t-“ of “bhráthar” completely silent).  Technically, I suppose we’d have to say that “Killabraher” is the anglicization of “Cill an Bhráthar,” not the translation, which would be “the cell of the brother, the brother’s cell).  In theory, we might find “-vraher” in this anglicization, not “-braher,” since the original “br” has become “bhr,” pronounced “vr” in Irish, but that degree of matching up doesn’t always occur in the anglicized versions.

Fuaimniú na bhFrásaí Thuas:

a)     [gahkh mahk MAW-hur]

b)     [in AN-yim un AH-hur]

c)      [kahr uh DJAR-hawr] or [kahr un DJAR-hawr]

d)     [kill uh VRAW-hur] or [kill un VRAW-hur]

Why two pronunciations for examples c) and d)?  When the word “an” occurs in the middle of phrases like “bean an tí,” “fear an tí,” “bean an leanna,” or examples c) and d) above, the “n” sound is typically dropped, unless one is trying to articulate very thoroughly.  So, for these additional three examples, we get the following pronunciations, all with [uh] instead of [un]:

[ban-uh-TEE], meaning “the woman of the house”

[far-uh-TEE], meaning, “the man of the house”

[ban-uh-LYAN-uh], meaning “the woman of the ale,” i.e. a barmaid or an alewife.  That is to say, an “alewife” of the human type, not the ichthyic type, for which the Alewife Brook Parkway in Massachusetts is named.  That would be a “sead alósach” in Irish, which would be another “kettle of fish” altogether.

This rule changes when the word following “an” begins with a vowel, as in:

in ainm an Athar

i gcarr an athar [i gahr un AH-hur], in the car of the father

“R” scornaí an Albanaigh” [arr SKOR-nee un AHL-uh-bun-ee], the Scotsman’s burr, lit. the “throat-R” of the Scotsman

Freagraí: goineoga na nathrach, na nathracha; de réir na huimhreach adamhaí; na huimhreacha; an stáisiún traenach, na traenacha; bonn corónach, na corónacha

Gluais: adamhach, atomic; alósach, allis or allice, as in the type of shad known as “alewife,” (Alosa pseudoharengus); goineog, fang (of a snake); hahá!, aha!; leann, ale; leathnú, broadening; scornach, throat; sead, shad

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