Irish Language Blog

Na Focail “Beoir” agus “Leann” i nGaeilge (Beer and Ale) Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

muga beorach lán go béal

I’m sure lots of people have lots of thoughts about beer and ale at this festive time of year.  Probably most folks aren’t “declining” those nouns at the moment.  That’s “declining” as a grammatical term, of course, not literally turning down or rejecting.  But if you’re reading this blog, that’s what we’re in for.  It’s not so bad, really – it’s just specifying the subject and possessive forms in the singular and plural.  “Plural” quite likely sounds appealing at this point!  If you’re actually talking to your beer or ale (it can happen!) you would technically have one more set of forms, but the dea-scéal here is that while we do have a direct-address concept for these beverages (and all nouns, animate or inanimate), in the case of beer (hmmm! unintentional!), there’s no separate spelling or ending, just the routine lenition at the beginning of the word.

So let’s go ahead and decline these nouns, then double back and accept, imbibe, indulge in, or otherwise consume them!

beoir, beer, f5 (a 5th-declension feminine noun so we decline it similarly to its cohorts, like cathair/cathrach or litir/litreach):

an bheoir [un VYOH-irzh], the beer
beorach [BYOH-rukh], of beer: buidéal beorach, canna beorach, muga beorach, ceaig beorach
na beorach [nuh BYOH-rukh], of the beer: blas na beorach (the taste of the beer), cúr na beorach (the foam of the beer)
beoracha [BYOH-rukh-uh], beers (again, we tend to say “bottles of beer,” “mugs of beer,” etc., but there are times when “beers” works!)
na mbeoracha [num-YOH-rukh-uh], of the beers
A bheoir! [uh VYOH-irzh], O, beer! (in direct address)
A bheoracha! [uh VYOH-rukh-uh], O, beers! (in direct address, plural; your context is as good as mine!)

Leann, ale, m3 (a 3rd-declension masculine noun so we decline it sort of similarly to its cohorts, like rud/ruda or droim/droma, although admittedly, the “-ta” plural ending isn’t very typical for this declension).  It is worth noting that “leann” isn’t declined like “ceann” or “peann,” which are 1st-declension, or “beann” (regard) or “beann” (antler), which are both 2nd-declension and declined accordingly:

an leann, the ale (and of course, an leann dubh, the stout, i.e. stout porter)
leanna, of ale: buidéal leanna, a bottle of ale
an leanna, of the ale: blas an leanna
leannta, ales
na leannta, the ales
na leannta, of the ales

As for one likely accompaniment when discussing beoir, this one is probably fairly transparent, dare I even say it, clichéd: scidilí, which could either refer to an actual “cluiche scidilí” or imply the abstract (where skittles = pleasure).  Let’s not forget “dairteanna.”  Of course that’s not talking about edible accompaniments, for either beoir or leann.  That would more likely be brioscáin phrátaí (or to cut to the chase, not chaser, btw, just chase), Taytos.  “Criospaí,” can also be used, based on the word “crisps,” as opposed to “potato chips,” in both Irish and British English.  “Criospaí” may also occur with “ríse,” though, referring to the rice-based breakfast cereal.  What else might you munch?  Piseanna talún, peanuts aka ground-nuts, lit. here “peas of the ground.”  Céard eile?  Uibheacha picilte?  Cén sneaic* is fearr leatsa nuair a bhíonns tú ag ól beorach (… at the drinking of beer)?

As for “an leann dubh” (stout), it doesn’t really need an edible accompaniment, does it?  After all, as they used to say, “There’s a sandwich in every glass.”  If there’s a “hunh?” factor there, bhuel, please hang on for blag eile.  Slán (dare I say “sláinte” there?) go fóill!  Sláinte, as well, anyway. – Róislín

*Maidir le hinscne an fhocail “sneaic”: it’s feminine, so technically we should have an initial “t” before “sneaic,” but I’m letting precedence rule here and going with the flow, which is to treat it as masculine and not add the “-initial “t”.  Fáilte roimh bhur mbarúlacha agus “incoming.”

Gluais: dubh, black; inscne, gender; rís [reesh], rice (ríse [REESH-uh], of rice); talamh, ground, land (talún, of ground, of land)



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