Irish Language Blog

Counting Crows and Cows, i nGaeilge (Ag Comhaireamh Préachán agus Bó) Posted by on Aug 25, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Last time we practiced counting, it was mostly ways to say “zero,” and we finished with a quick view of counting cows (bó amháin, dhá bhó, seacht mbó, deich mbó, míle bó).  So let’s count some more cows (why not?) and, for good measure, let’s count some crows too.  Of course, to do that thoroughly we’ll have to use all three possible words for crow (préachán, caróg, feannóg).  I would say upfront though, that “préachán” seems to be more widely used in everyday chat and “caróg” and “feannóg” are used for more specific types of crows.

Na ba, ar dtús, simply because we’ve already introduced them.  Of course, the noun stays singular, as is typical, following numbers in Irish.  So we won’t actually use “ba” (cows), but simply “bó” (cow).  Remember the basic set-up?

A.. For one of something, simply say the noun by itself, or add “amháin” [uh-WAW-in, stress on the 2nd syllable] after the noun.  No lenition (séimhiú), no inserted letters (litreacha curtha isteach sa bhfocal), and no prefixed letters (litreacha curtha mar réimíreanna), because the number is actually after the noun:

bó, a cow, one cow OR bó amháin, one cow

B.. For two to six of most nouns (excluding people and also some units of measurement), use lenition where applicable.  This means “bó” will change to “bhó” pronounced “woh” (or in some dialects, “voh”):

dhá bhó, trí bhó, ceithre bhó, cúig bhó, sé bhó

C.. For seven to ten of most nouns (excluding people and some units of measurement), use eclipsis (urú) where possible.  This means that “bó” will change to “mbó,” with the “b” becoming silent [moh], same pronunciation as “Moe”  in Larry, Moe, and Curly (An Triúr Amadán), or, for that matter Manny, Moe, and Jack (Na Buachaillí Fuinnimh):

seacht mbó, ocht mbó, naoi mbó, deich mbó

D.. For multiples of ten, past the number “10” itself, there is no change to the noun, so we just use “”: fiche bó, tríocha bó, céad bó, míle bó, srl.

Higher numbers, like 99 cows?  Blag éigin eile!  This blog is just for 1-10.

And how about na préacháin (the crows).  Ceart go leor, seo préacháin, óna haon go dtí a sé, le séimhiú ag tosú le huimhir a dó:

préachán amháin

dhá phréachán, trí phréachán, ceithre phréachán, cúig phréachán, sé phréachán

As you probably noticed, we switched back to the singular ending, not the “-áin” of “préacháin,” which I used to introduce this section of the blog.  An ghnáthriail – nouns usually stay singular after numbers.

Who remembers what sound change will happen when we count from seven to ten crows?  That’s right, it’s urú (eclipsis).  In each case, the same new letter should be prefixed to the following, where the blanks are (freagraí thíos):

seacht  ___ préachán, ocht  ___ préachán,  naoi  ___ préachán,  deich  ___ préachán

How about eclipsis for the other words for crow?  If we’re counting caróga, using lenition starting with “two crows,” it’s:

caróg amháin, dhá charóg, trí charóg, ceithre charóg, cúig charóg, sé charóg

What letter do we use to “eclipse” seven to ten “caróga” (i.e. what letter comes before the “c” below)?

seacht  ___ caróg,  ocht ___caróg,  naoi ___caróg,  deich  ___caróg

And our final word for “crow”:

feannóg amháin, dhá fheannóg, trí fheannóg, ceithre fheannóg, cúig fheannóg, sé fheannóg

And what letters do we use to “eclipse” seven to ten “feannóga” (i.e. what comes before the “f’s” below)?  Yes, “letters,” plural, since the letter “f” is unique in requiring two letters for eclipsis.  Freagraí thíos

seacht  ___ ___  feannóg,  ocht ___ ___ feannóg,  naoi ___ ___ feannóg,  deich  ___ ___ feannóg

Of course, according to the history of the band, Counting Crows, their name comes from the traditional rhyme that starts “One for sorrow, two for joy.”  In Ireland and Britain, that would more traditionally be applied to counting magpies (snaganna breaca), not crows.  Ach sin ábhar blag eile arís. 

So, we’ve counted cows and three words for crow.   Now don’t tell me you’d rather count something more urban, more hi-tech, or more specific to an saol sa chéad seo.  Bhuel, ceart go leor.  Cad faoi seo:

móideim amháin, dhá bhloc (sa chathair), trí chathaoir eirgeanamaíocha, ceithre mhata luiche, cúig mhéaróg chuimhne, sé chlúdach dúnphoill, seacht gceamara dhigiteacha, ocht luch optúla (no change to the “l”), naoi gcaoineog, deich nGaelscoil.  Sásta anois? 

That was also a good work-out for lenition and eclipsis, as well as for plurals of adjectives and the ubiquitous tuiseal ginideach. 

Not that cows and crows aren’t pertinent to daily life, of course, it’s just good to balance the “traidisiúnta” with the “nua.”

Sin é don bhlag seo, sgf, Róislín

Freagraí: For préachán, the letter “p” is eclipsed by “b,” and only the “b” is pronounced:

seacht bpréachán [shakht BrzhAYKH-awn], ocht bpréachán, naoi bpréachán, deich bpréachán

For “caróg,” the letter “c” is eclipsed by “g” and only the “g” is pronounced

seacht gcaróg [shakht GAR-ohg], ocht gcaróg, naoi gcaróg, deich gcaróg

For “feannóg,” the letter “f” is eclipsed by “bh,” and the new combination is pronounced like “v.”

seacht bhfeannóg [shakht VyAN-ohg], ocht bhfeannóg, naoi bhfeannóg, deich bhfeannóg

You may also remember the “bhf” cluster pronounced like a “w,” as in “An bhfuil …?” [un wil], but the “w” sound there is because the following vowel, “u,” is broad, whereas for “bhfeannóg,” the following vowel, “e,” is slender.  Other blogs sa tsraith seo have dealt more with that topic (vowel harmony).

Gluais: amadán, fool, here “stooge;” céad, hundred, century; curtha, put, placed; fuinneamh, spirit, energy, pep; gnáth-, ordinary

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: