Irish Language Blog

Cineálacha Pióg De Réir na nDíochlaontaí Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Well, probably only a language blog would mix pies (blasta!) with declensions (a grammar topic typically considered “tirim”), but here goes.  It actually will help provide the basics for how to say the names of different kinds of pies in Irish.  The key point is that the noun used to describe the pie (apple, meat, etc.) is in the genitive case (sa tuiseal ginideach) and the way to form the genitive case varies with each declension.  So we’ll pick four pies for the first four declensions.  So far no fifth-declension pies come to mind, unless there’s such as thing as “duck pie” (since “duck” is a 5th-declension noun, lacha, gs. and gpl. lachan).  Pióg lachan?  Anraith lachan, ‘sea, ach sin scéal eile!

An additional factor, although I’ve never seen it formally presented, is that if the pie filling is made of many small cut-up pieces of a fruit, such as apple, the form used is usually genitive plural, as with “pióg úll.”  And the caveat is that genitive plural may look like the nominative singular, as with úll, or to jump topics, “siopa leabhar” (shop of books, with “leabhar” being the genitive plural here, but also meaning “a book” — singular).  If the pie filling is of a smooth consistency, not chunky, the form used is usually genitive singular, as with seacláid and puimcín, for example.  This is also true of the meat pies, where one wouldn’t typically refer to “meats” or “porks,” for example.  So here are some samples, plus the different forms of the “filling” word:

1. Úll: An Chéad Díochlaonadh

Foirmeacha an fhocail “úll”: úll, úill (genitive singular), úlla (nominative plural), úll (genitive plural)

An phióg: pióg úll (pie of apples)

2. Seacláid: An Dara Díochlaonadh

Foirmeacha an fhocail “seacláid”: seacláid, seacláide (genitive singular), seacláidí (nominative and genitive plural)

An phióg:  pióg sheacláide (pie of chocolate)

Dála an scéil, if there were such a thing as a “pióg sheacláidí,” using the genitive plural form, it would suggest to me a pie containing individual pieces of chocolate candy, perhaps embedded in some type of custard filling.  Not a bad idea, but can’t say I’ve ever seen a leithéid (the likes of it).  On that note, though, the last wedding I attended had a císte bainise made entirely of tiered cupcakes, very elegant, and convenient for an fuílleach (the leftovers).  Maybe the idea will catch on for a “chocolates pie” as well.

3. Feoil: An Tríú Díochlaonadh

Foirmeacha an fhocail “feoil”: feoil, feola (genitive singular), feolta (nominative and genitive plural)

An phióg: pióg feola (pie of meat)

Sampla eile: pióg mhuiceola (pie of pork)

4. Puimcín: An Ceathrú Díochlaonadh

Foirmeacha an fhocail “puimcín”: puimcín, puimcín (genitive singular), puimcíní (nominative and genitive plural)

An phióg: pióg phuimcín (not “pióg phuimcíní,” which would imply either intact pumpkins baked into a pie, which would be impossible, or perhaps that it took more than one pumpkin to make the filling for a pumpkin pie.  While I’ve never actually made a pumpkin pie from scratch, I think one large pumpkin would probably generate enough filling for a single pie.  If it doesn’t, well, I don’t think the pie-classification system I propose is necessarily that exact.  Some of the prize-winning pumpkins (the 1500- or 1800-pounders) could probably make enough filling for numerous pies, for that matter.

As for actually using adjectives to describe pies, well, that can happen too, of course.  For example:

pióg veigeatórach, a vegetarian pie.  This presents a moot point from the general American perspective, where pies are usually desserts and rarely have meat products in them anyway, but it is an apt point in a country where there are many types of meat pies, such as Ireland or Britain.  In the U.S., “pork-pie” generally refers to a “hata fir,” not an actual meat pie.  Fortunately, the adjective ending of “veigeatórach” (-ach) distinguishes this word from potential tragedy, pióg veigeatóirí, which would be a pie made of, well, never mind.  Oddly, the English term, “vegetarian pie,” remains ambiguous (a pie for vegetarians or a pie made of vegetarians!) though in these cases, context rules – we hope!  The opposite of what Eustace and Jill and Puddleglum found out when they read the Harfang giants’ cookbook title, How To Serve Man, if you remember your C. S. Lewis.

You might have noticed the use of lenition (séimhiú) throughout many of these pie names, as in the “s” of “seacláid” changing to “sh.”  That’s because the word “pióg” is grammatically feminine.  What would happen if we switched some of fillings to cístí (cakes) or toirtíní (tarts, tartlets, or flans), both of which are masculine nouns?  Watch out for the 200-foot drop, ‘cause that’s the cliffhanger ending for this blog.

SGF, Róislín

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