Irish Language Blog

Logainmneacha Eile: Urú agus Ainmneacha gan “An” Posted by on Jul 15, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Here are some more possibilities for saying where you live, according to country, to follow up on the flurry of interest after the recent “ghost-town” blog (an blag faoin scáilbhaile).  This blog will just deal with ainmneacha tíortha that don’t include the definite article, like Ceanada, Meicsiceo, Sasana, Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá.  Irish, unlike English, does use the definite article with many, though not all, country names (An Bheilg, An tSile, An Bhreatain Bheag, Na Stáit Aontaithe (if leaving out the “Mheiriceá” part), srl., but  that will be ábhar blag eile

For place names that don’t include the definite article, Ceanada, mar shampla, we apply urú (eclipsis), i gCeanada, m. sh.).   Of course, certain consonants are not subject to eclipsis, so in those cases, there is no change to the initial consonant (i Vítneam, i Singeapór, srl.)

Although this blog mostly discusses countries as such, for a few examples I’ve used territories, cities, or other geographic subdivisions.

Here are some more examples of saying “in + place name” when there’s no definite article, with a rough pronunciation guide in brackets:

Tá mé i mo chónaí i mBuircíne Fasó. [i-MURK-een-yuh fah-soh, silent “B”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i gCúba. [i-GOO-buh, silent “C”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i nDoiminice.  [in-IM-in-ik-yuh, silent “D”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i bhFidsí. [iv-ID-shee, silent “F”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i nGána. [ing-AW-nuh, “n+g” run together as in “singing”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i bParagua. [ib-AHR-uh-goo-uh, silent “P”]

Tá mé i mo chónaí i dTaihítí (cuid de Pholainéis na Fraince). [id-ah-HEE-tchee, silent “T”] 

I’m not sure if we’ll have many léitheoirí from any of those places.  They’re a little far afield from eipealár ghluaiseacht na Gaeilge, but in this era of cibearGhaeltachtaí, one never knows.  Why aren’t places like France or Germany represented more prominently here, you might wonder?  It’s a matter of linguistic convention.  Most of the larger European countries, as well as the more traditional-style place names globally, use the definite article (An Fhrainc, An Ghearmáin, An tSín, srl.) and that causes a different sound change (séimhiú), best handled, I think, i mblag eile (in another blog). 

As you may have noticed, the following consonants are omitted from the group above, since they wouldn’t take eclipsis anyway: h, j, k, l, m, n, q, r, s, v, w, x, y, z. 

There are actually more consonants that aren’t affected by urú than consonants that are affected by it, but some of these exceptions (j, k, q, v, w, x, y, z) are pretty rare in Irish.  They are even rarer for country names, since most possible examples get gaelicized and start with a different letter (Jamaica, for example, becomes “Iamáice” and Zimbabwe becomes “An tSiombáib”).  So, to wrap up, here is an assortment of countries, regions, cities, and other geographical entities that undergo no change to the initial consonant after the word “i”: i Háítí, i Jammu, i Meicsiceo, i Sainsibeár (oileán, iarshabhdánacht, srl.), i Sasana, i Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá, i Xenia (cathair in Ohio), agus i Zelienople (buirg i bPennsylvania).

Still to come (ábhar blag eile, or perhaps, ábhar blaganna eile), place names with the definite article (An Astráil, An tSile, srl.) and place names starting with gutaí, since you may have noticed that the latter aren’t represented here at all yet.  The place names starting with vowels do involve eclipsis, but in a sort of, hmm, transplanted way, since the “n-“ showing eclipsis of a vowel actually gets tacked onto the preceding “i.”  Like I said, “ábhar blag eile.  But it may sound more complicated when described than it is in practice, since many have you have probably already been using phrases that exemplify this,  like “in Éirinn” or “in Albain,” since you started Irish.  These often used to be written as “i nÉirinn” and “i nAlbain,” showing the eclipsis more clearly, but this isn’t the typical practice today.   

Any takers for na háiteanna seo a leanas?  Which ones requires an initial change to say “in + place name” and which ones don’t?  An bhfuil tú i do chónaí i gceann de na háiteanna sin?  Live there?  N.B. This first batch is a mixture of cities and countries.  Freagraí thíos.

Búcairist?  Lucsamburg?  Camarún?  Monacó?  Málta?  Páras?  Nasaireit? 

And to throw in a few back in Éirinn:

Gaillimh?  Baile Átha Cliath?  Port Láirge?  Loch Garman?  Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile?

Sin é don bhlag seo, sgf, or maybe I should now try out “slán@@,” for those who like bilingual puzzlers.  I guess the monolingual version would just be “slán@.”– Róislín

Freagraí: i mBúcairist, i Lucsamburg, i gCamarún, i Monacó, i Málta, i bPáras, i Nasaireit

Áiteanna in Éirinn: i nGaillimh, i mBaile Átha Cliath, i bPort Láirge, i Loch Garman, i Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile

And in case there’s any doubt as to what these places are in English: Bucharest, Luxembourg, Cameroon, Monaco, Malta, Paris, Nazareth, Galway, Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, and, last, but far from least, Muckanaghederdauhaulia

P.S. An Cúigiú Díochlaonadh, coming back one of these days.  “Ar sos.”


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