Irish Language Blog

Logainmneacha le “an” agus Guta (a, e, i, o, u): An Afraic, An Aird Mhóir, srl. Posted by on Jul 30, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

The last major segment of this logainmneacha series will deal with place names that have the definite article “an” and where the actual place names starts with a vowel.  So far, for a quick review, we’ve seen samplaí of the various other combinations, like:

i (ins) + an + consan: An Ghearmáin, sa Ghearmáin (with lenition); An Rúis, sa Rúis (not lenitable)

i + consan: Conamara, i gConamara (with eclipsis)

i + -n + guta: in Uachtar Ard, in Osló (with “eclipsis” of vowel by attaching “-n” to “i”)

i (ins) + na + consan: sna Stáit Aontaithe, sna Forbacha (no initial change)

i (ins) + na + guta: sna hOileáin Fhilipíneacha (h prefixed before vowel), sna hEochracha

In this blog, we’ll deal with place names like “An Ostair” and “An Ungáir.”  And the good news is we’ve seen most of the pattern unfolding already. 

Let’s start with some international examples:

An Afraic, Africa; san Afraic, in Africa

We’ve added “ins” to the “an” giving us the shortened version, “san;” the final ‘n” is retained before vowels.

And continuing with different vowels:

An Éigipt, san Éigipt

An Íoslainn, san Íoslainn

An Ostair, san Ostair (the vowel combination “au” is virtually unknown in Irish, so it’s not surprising that the spelling of “Austria” has changed)

An Ungáir, san Ungáir (remember, very few Irish words actually start with “h” so it’s not surprising that “Hungary” starts with a vowel in Irish)

And for some Irish samples:

An Aird Mhóir, san Aird Mhóir (i gContae na Gaillimhe; this place name is in contrast to other variations of the name without the definite article, like Aird Mhóir, i gContae Phort Láirge, for which we would just say “in Aird Mhóir”)

An Eaglais, san Eaglais (examples of this as a place name can be found in ten counties; since “eaglais” is also the basic word for “church,” only the capitalization and context clarifies when it is being used as a logainm)

An Imleach, san Imleach (i gContae Chiarraí)

An Ómaigh, san Ómaigh (i gContae Thír Eoghain)

An Uaimh, san Uaimh (i gContae na Mí)

Agus na hainmneacha sin i mBéarla:  Ardmore, Aglish or Eglish, Emlagh, Omagh, Navan (note how the initial “n” of “Navan” actually comes from the final “n” of “an”).  You can see that the initial vowel, or initial letters in general, aren’t necessarily the same once the word is anglicized. 

So that now covers the main aspects of how to say “in” plus a place name in Irish.  Basically, you’re dealing with i, in, sa, san, or sna, just like you would with generic nouns (i mbosca, in uisce, sa bhosca, san uisce, sna boscaí, sna huiscí).  Of course there are still a few more arenas that could be covered, like living “ar an gCnoc” or “ar an gCeathrú Rua” and the interesting general phrase “faoin tuath,” but those might wait a while, since we should return to our seanchairde, the 5th-declension nouns, one of these days. 

By the way, you might be wondering what’s with the “log-“ part of “logainmneacha.”  Why not just use some form of the word “áit,” the most basic word for “place,” if we’re going to say “place names?”  Well, I didn’t create the system, but can simply say that the word “log” exists on its own in Irish, meaning “place” or “hollow place” or, depending on context, “socket,” as in “log súile” or “well” as in “log staighre,” a stair well (not a “tobar” and not the interjection “bhuel”).  However, as a word for “place,” “log” is considered literary, and the more familiar “áit” would be used for questions or phrases like “Cén áit?” or “muintir na háite.”

All of which makes me wish there was an Irish version of “Cén áit sa domhan a bhfuil Carmen Sandiego?”  If there is, I haven’t been able to track it down.  Leid r b ó dhuine r b?  Next up, perhaps a few waifs and strays of place name lore, well, really place name grammar practice, but “lore” makes it sound more appealing.  And then back to na díochlaontaí.  SGF, ó Róislín

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: