Irish Language Blog

‘Being Loud’ Not Allowed? (i gcaife sa Choireán, Co. Chiarraí) Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

By now you might have seen the article about the café sign in Waterville, Co. Kerry (An Coireán, Co. Chiarraí), which appeared to ban bus and coach passengers and loud Americans.

Why do I say “appeared”?  The punctuation on the sign is such that it defeats its own purpose.  The phrase “loud American’s” refers to something owned by a loud American.  But what?  If the sign was supposed to mean a whole slew of loud Americans, there shouldn’t have been an apostrophe.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the sign, it says “No bus/coach, or Loud American’s.  Thank you.”  It was posted by Maurice Campbell on Twitter, and then picked up by (

Anyway, interpreting the sign as written, with “Loud American’s” [sic] as a possessive singular phrase, not as a plural , we’ll see what Irish translations are possible for a loud American, a loud Irishman, a loud Englishman, a loud child, and, let’s see, to wrap up, we’ll do a loud guru.  Even if that last one is a bit ocsamórónach (oxymoronic).  Then we’ll try each phrase “sa tuiseal ginideach” (in the genitive case), to show how possession is shown.

So our first step is actually to decide what word to use for “loud.”  As usual, with translations, there are several choices, shown here with some sample phrases:

ard, loud (ardsoiléir, loud and clear; de ghuth ard, in a loud voice); also means: high, tall (fear ard, a tall man)

scol– (as a prefix), loud (scolmhír, a loud passage of music; scolgháire, a loud laugh or guffaw); as a noun on its own, it also means a song, a shout, or a singing or crying voice (an scol, na scolta)

bladhmannach, loud, loud-mouthed, also blazing, boastful, bombastic, or flamboyant; related to “bladhm” (a flame, a blaze) and “bladhmann” (a sending forth of steam from a fermented haystack)

callánach, loud, loud-mouthed, noisy (cruinniú callánach, a noisy meeting; duine callánach, a noisy person); also means “blustery” (gaoth challánach, a blustery wind)

glórach, loud, loud-mouthed (fothram glórach, a loud noise; duine glórach, a loud person); based on the word “glór” (voice, sound, noise), “glórach” also means “clamorous” and “noisy”

ardghlórach [AWRD-GHLOR-ukh], loud, loud-mouthed, loud-voiced (a combination of “ard” + “glórach,” which has now become “ghlórach“).   In the pronunciation guide, the spelling “gh” stands for IPA  / ɣ /, the voiced velar fricative, a throatier version of the “kh” sound found in German “Buch” and Scottish “loch”.  Usually I’ve been a stickler for using the IPA symbol / ɣ /, but I see it often gets read as a “y,” so I figured I’d try just writing “gh.”  This sound is not in English.

As you can see, the last four can also mean “loud-mouthed,” whereas the first two tend not to be used to indicate loudness of people.

Ardghlórach” seems best suited to our purposes, so now let’s try combining the adjective with some terms for people:

an Meiriceánach ardghlórach

an tÉireannach ardghlórach

an Sasanach ardghlórach

an páiste ardghlórach

an gúrú ardghlórach

Now the plurals:

na  Meiriceánaigh  ardghlóracha

And based on that pattern, can you complete the phrases for “the loud Irishmen” and “the loud Englishmen”?  Hint: I’ve typed these with the correct number of blanks to be filled in.  Freagraí thíos, iad uimhrithe:

1) __a      __Éireanna__ __  __     ardghlórach__

2) __a     Sasana__  __  __      ardghlórach__

Páiste” and “gúrú” are 4th-declension nouns, so the plural endings are different.  The plural for “ardghlórach” stays the same as shown above.

3) __a     páist__     ardghlórach__

4) __a     gúrú__  __  __     ardghlórach__

And now for “an tuiseal ginideach,” singular and plural.  One convenient feature of Irish is that is doesn’t use apostrophes to show possession.   On the other hand, Irish does have some special endings and initial mutations to use to show possession.  Ó theach an diabhail go teach an deamhaín, is dócha, maidir le castacht an struchtúir atá i gceist!

At any rate, there’s no need to worry about “na huaschamóga earráideacha,” or, to translate the linguistic term more literally, “uaschamóga na ngrósaeirí glasraí.”  There are lots of interesting discussions and examples of the “greengrocers’ apostrophe” online (cúpla nasc thíos), but like I said, it’s not an issue that pertains to Irish word endings for showing possession.  Irish has plenty of other instances of using the “uaschamóg,” as with “an” (Ros a’ Mhíl for Ros an Mhíl) and verb phrases based on “an chopail” (‘S é an dochtúir é for Is é an dochtúir é).  But it doesn’t use uaschamóga at the end of the word for the possessor.

But back to the markers of the genitive case.  I’ll use the word “guth” (voice; [GUH, silent “t”) to illustrate the concept of possession, so we’ll be saying  “the voice of the loud-mouthed (person).”

Note that the noun and the adjective have changed ending, and the words for American, Irishman, Englishman, child, and guru will all change at the beginning as well.  Remember, I said “initial” mutation.

guth  an  Mheiriceánaigh  ardghlóraigh [ … un VERzh-ik-yawn-ee  AWRD-GHLOR-ee, the final “-igh” pronounced “ee” because it’s “slender”]

guth  an  Éireannaigh  ardghlóraigh  [ … un AYRzh-un-ee … ]

guth  an  tSasanaigh  ardghlóraigh  [ … un TAHSS-un-ee …, the first “s” of “tSasanaigh” is now silent]

guth  an  pháiste  ardghlóraigh  [… un FwAWSH-tchuh … ]

guth an  ghúrú  ardghlóraigh  [un GHOO-roo …]

Now the plurals, starting with the pattern for the nationality names, and making “guth” (voice) plural also (guthanna [GUH-huh-nuh, silent “t”):

guthanna  na  Meiriceánach  ardghlórach

And based on that pattern, can you complete the phrases for “the voices of the loud Irishmen” and “the voices of the loud Englishmen”?  Leid: once again, I’ve typed these with the correct number of blanks to be filled in.  Note that the adjective (ardghlórach) is back to its basic form.  Freagraí thíos:

5) guthanna  na    __Éireanna__ __     ardghlórach

6) guthanna  na  Sasana__  __       ardghlórach

Did you remember the eclipsis at the beginning of the nouns indicating the people?   That’s the main marker of genitive plural these days.   If “eclipsis” is new for you, there is a list of the changes with the answers below, but I think most learners will agree, it’ll take more than a footnote to thoroughly digest the process.  But there’s no time like the present to start with your initial mutations!

Páiste” and “gúrú” are 4th-declension nouns, so, as previously, their genitive plural endings are different than the endings for “American,” “Irishman,” and “Englishman.”  And now also, hey presto, we make the adjective agree, so it takes its plural ending.

7) guthanna  na   __páist__     ardghlórach__

8) guthanna  na   __gúrú__  __  __     ardghlórach__

So, that’s my response to the Peter’s Place café sign.  Make it a teachable moment.  The sign delightfully conjures up the question of what is being possessed by the “loud American.”  And how we show possession for Irish nouns.

Actually all the grammar on the sign is strange.  No “bus/coach”!  What’s a “bus/coach”?  Aren’t such phrases on signs usually plural?  “No buses or coaches.”  Or “No busses or coaches,” since “busses” is also a plural form of “bus” (although I favor “buses).  Even “no buses/coaches” would read better to me.  Do bharúilse?

Hmm, do we see signs that say “No dog” or “No trespasser” or “No pet”?  Hmm, again, I’m even thinking back to a book I enjoyed as a child, No Children, No Pets, by Marion Holland (   The title is indelibly printed in my brain as plural.

And then, if you look closely at the sign, there’s also an interesting mixture of “litreacha sa chás uachtair” (ceannlitreacha) and “litreacha sa chás íochtair.”  Cén fáth?

But I do like the cascade of “poncanna” surrounding the leading word “no.”  Cúig phonc atá ann.  Cén fáth?

Nothing like a slight touch of calligraphy to enhance the message.

And, wait, fan bomaite, aha, an nóméad “eureka”!  I think I’ve got it.  The five dots (“dot” is “ponc” in Irish) are actually a cryptic reference to “Poncánaigh” (Yanks).  The “gnáthphonc” at the end of the line isn’t enough to draw attention to this subtext.  So we have the five as decoration.  “Five Yanks.”  The mystery must unfold further somehow.

Or maybe I’ve watched too much X-Chomhaid in my lifetime.

On that bemused note, slán go fóill — Róislín



A. Iolra / Ainmneach

1) na  hÉireannaigh  ardghlóracha

2) na  Sasanaigh  ardghlóracha

3) na  páistí  ardghlóracha

4) na  gúrúnna  ardghlóracha

B. Iolra, Ginideach

5) guthanna  na  nÉireannach  ardghlórach

6) guthanna  na  Sasanach  ardghlórach

7) guthanna  na  bpáistí  ardghlóracha

8) guthanna  na  ngúrúnna  ardghlóracha

Eclipsis spelling changes: b/mb, c/gc, d/nd, f/bhf, g/ng, p/bp, t/dt

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