Irish Language Blog

Irish language glossary for ‘Comhrá idir an dá iora ghlasa’ (Diarmaid agus Dearbháil), pt. 2 Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

It occurred to me that there might be a few more words worthy of definition or pronunciation deconstruction from the “Diarmaid agus Dearbháil” story (nasc thíos).  So here’s beagáinín eile:

Taighde, research.  The “gh” is silent in the “taigh-” part of this word, so the vowel sound is as in the verb “faigh” (get), more or less like the vowel sound in the variously spelled English words “I,” “my,” “pie,” “sigh,” etc.  Related words and phrases include: taighdeoir (a researcher), an buntaighde (the basic research), taighde margaidh (market research), An Coiste Taighde um Athrú Aeráide (The Climate Change Research Committee), and An Ghníomhaireacht um Thaighde ar Bhradáin (The Salmon Research Agency), as opposed to the Salmon Research Trust of Ireland Inc., which is “Iontaobhas Éireann Crp. um Thaighde Bradán.”  Note the interesting grammar switch where research on salmon uses “ar bhradáin,” with the standard plural ending (-áin), but research of or about salmon uses the genitive plural, bradán, with no “-i-.”  In fact, the “of” part is implied, since there’s no equivalent word for that function in Irish.

Bhuel, for me (agus mé i m’fhanaiceach gramadaí)  that’s an-suimiúil anyway.  Perhaps for general purposes, it’s worth noting that of the major English linguistic oddities where words for animals have no plural (deer, sheep, salmon, etc.), the situation doesn’t apply to Irish.  In Irish, all the words for animals that I can think of have plural forms.  Nice and loighiciúil!

fia, deer, fianna, deer (plural)

caora, sheep, caoirigh, sheep (plural)

bradán, salmon, bradáin, salmon (plural, except, of course, when we need the genitive plural, which is a whole different kettle of fish, well, really just a whole different “tuiseal,” not a whole different “citeal iasc.”  Actually it’s not so different, anyway.  The “ginideach iolra” form for this word simply reverts back to the “ainmneach uatha,” that is, “bradán,” which is probably how you first learned the word anyway, especially all ye singers of the now legendary Daltaí na Gaeilge anthem.  Oops, wasn’t that “sa tuiseal gairmeach,” since we were invoking the Salmon of Knowledge (“a Bhradáin Feasa,” in direct address).  So that would give us both séimhiú (the “h”) and caolú (the inserted “i”).  And, errmm, maybe I’d better quit while I’m ahead and go on to another word.

Bhuel, actually, just returning for one more minute to the animals-with-no-plural theme, there’s one I couldn’t find, but it’s finscéalach, not fíor (fad m’eolais), and there’s only ever one at a time in the whole wide world (de réir an fhinscéil, ar aon chaoi).  Cén t-ainmhí é sin?  An féinics, ar ndóigh.  I can ponder the plural possibilities, grammarwise, but I think that’ll have to wait for blagmhír éigin eile.  Of course,idir an dá linn, if anyone knows for sure, please do write in and let us know.  None of the dictionaries I checked list a plural for “féinics” and my brief online search yielded no results.  And definitely, if you’ve ever seen two phoenixes at the same time, tell us, in fact, tell the world, ‘cause that’d be pretty highly neamhghnách!  As long as it’s not because you’re “feelin’ single, seein’ double” or advertising Doublemint gum, in which case seeing two phoenixes might be a marketing trick or a hallucination.

And back to the word “taighde,” I made a point of including the phrase “an buntaighde” above as a reminder that this word is grammatically masculine.  Somehow, with the slender “-gh” and the final “e,” it always looks grammatically feminine to me.  One of the best ways I know to remember the gender of unpredictable words is just to see them over and over again, especially in situations where spelling changes would be required to show gender.  With a phrase like “an taighde,” where the noun starts with “t,” the general rule of  showing feminine gender with lenition doesn’t apply.  Why?  Because of the so-called DNTLS rule, which reminds us that “d” and “t” don’t lenite after “n.”  So, while we have “an bord” (the table, masculine) but “an bhean” (the woman, feminine), with nice, orderly, systematic lenition, we don’t see initial changes in pairs like the following:

masculine: an taighde, the research vs. feminine: an tine, the fire

masculine: an doras, the door vs. feminine: an dair, the oak, also, an deoir, the tear

Of course, we’d also get a reminder of the “inscne” of the word “taighde” if we saw phrases like “torthaí an taighde” or “tús an taighde,” because the “an” would show us that “taighde” is masculine.  When we want to say “of the” for a feminine noun, “an” changes to “na,” as in “Raidió na Gaeltachta” or “Banc na hÉireann.”

Yikes, how did most of one blog get to be such a “timchaint fhoclach” (palaverous circumlocution) on just one word, anyway?  Bhuel, I’ve always felt that each word in Irish has a scéal.  Probably that’s true in all languages, but it seems like in Irish the béim ar scéalaíocht is even stronger.

So in the remaining space, here are a few more, mínithe go gonta:

Deireadh Fómhair, October, lit.  “end of harvest”

Muimhneach [MWEEN-yukh], Munster (used here as an adjective, i.e. of the province of Munster)

Mo dhearmad! I forgot, lit. my (act of) forgetting.  And remember the pronunciation of that “dhe-” as “yuh”!  That was the whole point of the original Diarmaid and Dearbháil story, to get as much practice for that “dh” sound in as possible.  Not that it’s hard to pronounce—it’s just a little surprising for English speakers when they first encounter it since they usually only see “dh-” in loan words like “dharma,” “dharna”  and “sandhi,” and names (Hindi and maybe other Indian languages) like “Gandhi”.  In those words, the actual “d” sound is pronounced (unlike Irish, where it isn’t), albeit with a noticeable simultaneous “huh” sound (almost like “duh-harma”).  

And our last one, for today,

Sult, enjoyment, as in “Ta súil agam gur bhain tú sult as sin.” 


Naisc: (Comhrá: Diarmaid agus Dearbháil agus Na Dearcáin, Posted on 10. Oct, 2015 by róislín in Irish Language)

Irish language glossary for ‘Comhrá idir an dá iora ghlasa’ (Diarmaid agus Dearbháil) Posted by  on Oct 15, 2015 in Irish Language

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