Irish Language Blog

Cé mhéad zombaí? – A ‘quiz’ for ‘Oíche Shamhna’ (Halloween) Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

You might remember a previous blog (Ag Comhaireamh Daoine i gCultacha Oíche Shamhna (Vaimpírí, Gúil, srl.) that gave the Irish for many typical Halloween costumes. In that blog, we also used the “uimhreacha pearsanta” to count how many ghouls and zombies we were talking about. In this blog, we’ll recap those costume terms, this time as a mioncheistiúchán (mini-quiz). So we have deich gculaith and fiche focal to complete, filling in the missing letters.

You might want to reread the “Comhaireamh Daoine” blog, cited above, before doing this. Freagraí thíos:

1) g__l  a__háin

2) be__rt  t__aibhs__

3) tri__r   __omba__th__

4) ceathr__r  __ruaga__h

5) c__igear  b__n sí. As I noted last time, 12 Deireadh Fómhair 2012, it’s not that I’ve ever heard of more than one of these supernatural creatures existing in one time and place, but it makes for good counting practice.

6) seis__ar  d__abh__l

7) seacht__r  __aimpírí OR seacht__r deamhan f__la (lit. demons of blood) or seacht__r *s__-vaimp__” (the last being my Irish coinage for the trendy new English word, “psy-vamp, as you might recall from the blog of October 12th, 2012, cited above).

8) __chtar  cn__mharla__h. As discussed last time, this assumes the “cn __ mharlai __h” to be human-type beings, and thus counted with the “uimhreacha pearsanta” (personal numbers, used for counting “people”). If we consider the cn __ mharlai __ h to simply be inanimate objects, we’d say “ocht gcn __ mharla __ h,” using eclipsis and keeping the noun singular.

9) naon__r  m__mait__e, or if you prefer the more specific implication of desiccation, naon__r searg__n

10) deichn__úr  ne_ch   ___othaitheach (It might be a little tricky to design costumes for these, but surely, with imagination, it could be done. Hmm, so how does one dress up as a crystalline entity (beith chriostalach; “Silicon Avatar,” Star Trek TNG) or as a shimmering mass of energy (meall crithlonrach fuinnimh; “Metamorphosis” Star Trek TOS). Smaointe ar bith agaibh?

Tá súil agam go mbaineann tú sult as a bheith ag líonadh isteach na mbearnaí. BTW, that’s “beith” in its more typical usage, the infinitive “a bheith” (to be). In reality, I can’t say I’ve heard “beith” used all that often as a noun meaning “entity” or “being.” But then, that’s getting into pretty philosophical topics, which are not necessarily the subject of everyday conversations in English, either. Ar aon chaoi, bain sult as Oíche Shamhna freisin. B’fhéidir go mbeidh muid ag caint go luath faoi na cultacha a bhí ar léitheoirí an bhlag seo. Slán go gúl (closest I could get to something Halloweenish that sort of rhymes with “fóill“) — Róislín

Freagraí: Please remember, as I stated in the 10/12/12 blog (12/10/12 sa R.A. agus in Éirinn), that I’m using the “genitive plural” rule for these. Several patterns are used following the personal numbers, but it seems to me that “ginideach iolra” gives the most consistency, since “beirt bhan” and “beirt mhac,” both widely used phrases, fit the pattern and are not construed as exceptions.

BTW, the number “one,” here used for our “ghoul,” isn’t so specifically part of the “uimhreacha pearsanta” system. As you can see, it follows the noun; most Irish numbers, in contrast, come before the noun. And “amháin” isn’t limited to people; it’s also used to count things or abstract nouns (bosca amháin; smaoineamh amháin). But “beirt,” “triúr,” etc., are mostly limited to counting people, although there is some leeway when we’re just using numbers as an answer, not as part of a full sentence, but that somewhat exceptional situation will have to be ábhar blag eile.

1) gúl amháin, one ghoul

2) beirt thaibhsí, two ghosts

3) triúr zombaithe, three zombies

4) ceathrar gruagach, four hairy goblins. Hmm, so “gruagach” is specifically a hairy goblin — does that mean “na bocánaigh” are non-hairy goblins? And how about the “ginidí“? Bhuel, the “giobachas” (hirsuteness) of goblins will have to be ábhar eile blag eile. Vs. “mosachas“? Vs. “fionnaitheachas“? Hmm, I’m looking forward to writing that one, some day. And making sure that “fionnaitheachas” (hairiness, furriness, shagginess) remains distinct from “fionnaitheacht” (a creeping sensation).

5) cúigear ban sí, five banshees. And I wonder how well five of these would get along if they found they had to share the back seat of a car or a railway compartment.

6) seisear diabhal, six devils

7) seachtar vaimpírí OR seachtar deamhan fola OR seachtar *sí-vaimpí, seven vampires OR demons of blood OR “psy-vamps”

8) ochtar cnámharlach, eight skeletons. As noted above, this considers the “cnámharlaigh” to be human-ish, if not fully human. As “objects,” they would be “ocht gcnámharlach,” using eclipsis and the singular form of the noun. If the “-ach” ending being repeated seems odd, it’s just because this is an “m1” noun, with cnámharlach being both nominative (common case) singular and genitive plural. “Cnámharlaigh” is genitive singular and nominative (common case) plural, the exact opposite. Lots of possible future blog topics there. How to say, skeleton, of a skeleton, skeletons, of skeletons, etc.

9) naonúr mumaithe, nine mummies, or, to emphasize triomú as opposed to balsamú, naonúr seargán, nine desiccated mummies or nine shrivelled or withered persons

10) deichniúr neach mothaitheach, ten sentient beings, and for good measure, deichniúr beitheanna criostalacha, ten crystalline entities, and deichniúr meallta crithlonracha fuinnimh, ten shimmering balls of energy

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