Irish Language Blog

Back to the Relative Clauses AND Discussing Fools! Posted by on Mar 31, 2010 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

As you may have guessed, this blag will introduce some of the Irish terms for “fool” and will resume our long-awaited (right?) series of irregular verbs in direct and indirect relative clauses.  This is in honor of Lá na nAmadán, the day of fools, April 1.  Amadán is the most basic Irish word for “a fool.”  Look for a few more below

Let’s first refresh the pattern we had set up for this, using a verb we had recently (déan – make, do).  An cuimhin libh na habairtí seo (all based on “She makes a muzzle for the calf”)?

Aimsir láithreach: Déanann sí soc don lao.  An ndéanann sí soc don lao?  Sin í an bhean a dhéanann soc don lao.  Sin í an bhean a ndéanann a hiníon soc don lao.

Aimsir chaite: Rinne sí soc don lao.  An ndearna sí soc don lao?  Sin í an bhean a rinne soc don lao.  Sin í an bhean a ndearna a hiníon soc don lao.

Aimsir fháistineach: Déanfaidh sí soc don lao.  An ndéanfaidh sí soc don lao?  Sin í an bhean a dhéanfaidh soc don lao.  Sin í an bhean a ndéanfaidh a hiníon soc don lao.

Remember how important séimhiú (lenition aka aspiration) and urú (eclipsis) are in Irish?  Lenition and eclipsis are what this system is all about.  They’re why we’re spending at least aon bhlag déag (11 blogs) on it.  Irish doesn’t use a relative pronoun “who” in the way English does, to say things like “This is woman who bakes every day.” You might try to work out the Irish for that, by the way; the answer is thíos (below).  It simply uses the “relative particle(an páirteagal coibhneasta) which is spelled “a” and pronounced “uh.”  Oh, yes, and followed by lenition (b->bh, etc.).

Likewise, to say “whose” in the relative sense (as in “This is the woman whose son bakes every day,” Irish below), we also use “a” but it is followed by eclipsis (b->mb, etc.).  Please do note that this is not the interrogative “whose” (as in “Whose book is this?”).  That could be covered in another blog series.  Interested?  Please let me know by writing in the comments section.  Or, if anyone can recall the “lumpy pillow” anecdote famously used to illustrate this feature of Irish, I’ll plunge right into it (maybe after a short change of tack to deal with Easter, Passover, and related terms).

Now, having said all that, here are our examples, using the verb “say” (abair, which changes “root” todeir-,” -,” ordéar-“ for our samples below, so this one’s highly irregular).  This is the seventh out of the 11 briathra neamhrialta of Irish we’ll cover in this series and, to be topical, for Lá na nAmadán, we’ll use fools as the subject:

Aimsir láithreach: 

Simple sentence and question: Deir an t-amadán rudaí amaideacha(The fool says foolish things).  An ndeir t-amadán rudaí amaideacha?

Sentences with relative clauses:

Direct relative: Seo é an t-amadán a deir rudaí amaideachaThis is the fool who says foolish things.

Notice anything amiss there?  Yep, there’s always an exception to break the rule.  The verbdeir (says) doesn’t get lenited after our particlea(or after other particles, for that matter, cf.ní deir sé– he doesn’t say, etc.  The same will apply in the past and future.)

But we do eclipse for the indirect relative:

Seo é an t-amadán a ndeir a bhean rudaí amaideacha.  This is the fool whose wife says foolish things.

Aimsir chaite (and now we’ll switch toóinseach,” for a female fool.  Maybe she’s bean an amadáin, the fool’s wife):

Dúirt an óinseach rudaí amaideacha.  An ndúirt an óinseach rudaí amaideacha?

Sentences with relative clauses:

Seo í an bhean a dúirt rudaí amaideacha.  Seo í an bhean a ndúirt a cara rudaí amaideacha.

Aimsir fháistineach (and let’s have the friend be agamal,” yet another word for fool, adding to “amadán” and “óinseach”):

Déarfaidh an gamal rudaí amaideacha.  An ndéarfaidh an gamal rudaí amaideacha?

Sentences with relative clauses:

Seo é an gamal a déarfaidh rudaí amaideacha.  Seo é an gamal a ndéarfaidh a mhac rudaí amaideacha. 

Yes, Irish does distinguish between male and female fools.  I’ve sometimes heardamadánused for women; gender-wise, it’s much like the word “guys” in English (originally masculine, but now used for men and women). Óinseachis specifically female.  At least I’ve never heard it applied to a man!  Which is probably just as well!  SGF- Róislín

Nóta (though you might have figured it out already): Direct relative: Seo í an bhean a bhácálann gach lá.  Indirect relative: Seo í an bhean a mbácálann a mhac gach lá.  Both sentences are based on the verbbácálann(bakes).

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  1. Mise Áine:

    Ní bhácálann mise ná mo mhac. Ní amadán é, ná ní óinseach mise, cé go bhféadfadh seisean bheith ina amadán, ach ní fheádfadh mise…;-)

    Go raibh maith agat, arís, a chara, agus bain sult as an deireadh seachtaine.

  2. róislín:

    A Áine, a chara,

    Is beag nach casfhocal atá agat ansin! Tá áthas orm nach amadán é do mhac — bhí a fhios agam cheana nach bhféadfá féin a bheith i d’óinseach!

    Ach nár ‘úirt Shakespeare, “A Thiarna, nach amadáin iad go léir lucht an tsaoil dhuthain?”
    Mise ina measc, amanna, ar a laghad.

    GRMA arís as scríobh!

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