Irish Language Blog

Piontaí agus an Ceathrú Díochlaonadh Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

As long as we’re on the topic of “turas an Uachtaráin go hÉirinn,” how about “piontaí Guinness”? And since “pionta” happens to be a 4th-declension noun, all the more reason to keep sraith na ndíochlaontaí going.

Credit: / Public Domain Image

So, if we’re going to describe this pint, what are the forms of the word “pionta” that we use?  Since this is a 4th-declension noun, there are fewer endings to manipulate than say with 1st- or 5th- declension ones.  And “cheers” to that!

The singular forms of “pionta” will always end in “-a,” whether subject, object, or any other role in the sentence.  Samplaí:

pionta, a pint.  For the “io” pronunciation, it’s basically like the short “i” of English “in” or “pin” (but, ironically not like the long “i,” eye-ish, my-ish sound of English “pint,” which is /ai/ in IPA, if that helps).  Some speakers have more of an “oo” sound for the vowel; fair play dhóibh.  Remember the “p” here is slender, so it’s more like the “p” in English words like “pew” or “puny,” rather than the “p” of “puma” or “Pune” (formerly “Poona”).

pionta can also mean “of a pint” (as opposed to “an phionta,” which is “of the pint”).  Sampla: ceathrú pionta, a gill.  Not a fish’s gill, of course, unless there’s a new species of fish I don’t know of.  Cén sórt “gill” mar sin?  Tuilleadh eolais thíos.

an pionta, the pint.  Cé leis an pionta sin?  Whose is that pint?, lit. Who with him (is) that pint?

an phionta, of the pint, the “ph” is pronounced  as “f,” closer to the “f” of “few” than to the “f” of “food.”  Samplaí: blas an phionta, the taste of the pint; an cúr ar bharr an phionta, the foam on the top of the pint; an tseamróg sa chúr ar bharr an phionta

piontaí [PYIN-tee], pints

na piontaí, the pints.  An bhfuil na piontaí Guinness i Meiriceá chomh blasta leis na piontaí Guinness in Éirinn?  Freagra: Tá / Níl

na bpiontaí [nuh BYIN-tee], of the pints.  An ionann blas na bpiontaí i bpubanna i Meiriceá agus blas na bpiontaí i bpubanna in Éirinn?  Freagra: Is ionann / Ní hionann

How about these for an exercise in translation?  Aistriúcháin thíos.

1. Cé hé an fear a chuir an tseamróg sa chúr atá ar bharr an phionta?

Freagra: Is é Séamas an fear a chuir an tseamróg sa chúr atá ar bharr an phionta, or more concisely, Is é Séamas an fear a chuir ann í.

2. An é an Séamas a chuireanns na seamróga ar bharr na bpiontaí sa phub an Séamas céanna a bhíodh ag obair mar “bharista” agus a bhíodh ag cur seamróga sa chúr ar bharr an chaife?   Shortest possible answer: ‘S é (or “Is é), i.e. “Yes.”  Next shortest, “Is é an Séamas céanna é” (He is the same Séamas).  The long answer is fairly redundant, but here it is, mar sin féin:

Is é an Séamas a chuireanns na seamróga ar bharr na bpiontaí sa phub an Séamas céanna a bhíodh ag obair mar “bharista” agus a bhíodh ag cur seamróga sa chúr ar bharr an chaife.
Negative answers for 2. would be “Ní hé” or “Ní hé an Séamas céanna é.”  The long answer would start with “Ní hé …”


1. Who is the man who put the shamrock in the foam that is on the top of the pint?  Séamas is the man who put the shamrock in the foam that is on top of the pint.  Or: Séamas is the man who put it there.

2. Is the Séamas who puts the shamrocks on the top of the pints in the pub the same Séamas who used to work as a barista and who used to put (be putting) shamrocks in the foam on the top of the coffee?
Bhuel, sin agaibh foirmeacha agus tuisil go leor: ainmneach uatha, ginideach uatha, ainmneach iolra, ginideach iolra, cinnteach, neamhchinnteach, cleachtadh le ceisteanna, agus tagairt do sheamróga leis.  Agus gan ann mar dheirí ach “-a” agus “-aí.” Who could ask for anything more?  Lucht an tuisil ghairmigh?  Sibhse ag caint le piontaí in insint dhíreach?  Fanaigí socair go ceann tamaill eile, le bhur dtoil.  Is leor an méid sin thuas do bhlag amháin, sílim.  SGF ó Róislín

Gluais: barr, top; blas, taste (or accent); blasta: tasty (or accented); caife, coffee, café; caifé, café; céanna, same; chomh, as; cur, putting, to put; cúr, foam (n); iolra, plural; ionann, same; leis, lit. with it, here with the sense of “to boot;” mar, like, as; sraith, series; tagairt, reference; turas, trip; uachtarán, president; uatha, singular 

Nóta 1: “gill” here is the English word for a “quarter-pint,” distantly related to the word for “gallon.”
Nóta 2:  the síneadh fada may be used to distinguish “café” from “coffee in Irish,” as in “caifé,” but sometimes just “caife” is used for “café.”  “Café,” as such, is also used.  Among the Irish-speaking cafés you might find in Ireland are Caifé Feirste in Belfast, and, in Co. Kerry, An Café Liteartha and Caife na Cille.  So, in theory, in ceist a dó above, Séamas could have been working on the roof of a café, perhaps making “ollseamróga” out of cúr-rubar or some other such industrial material.  But not likely.  When in doubt, we can usually rely on either “comhthéacs,” or if that fails, “gnáthchiall.

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  1. mankso:

    >An é an Séamas a chuireanns na seamróga ….

    What’s the extra -s ending on ‘chuireann-‘ for, please? Maybe I’ve overlooked something, but I don’t think it’s anything explained in any of the Caighdeán texts or grammars I presently have ar fáil. Is it wrong to write or say:
    An é an Séamas a chuireann na seamróga … ?

    Go raibh maith agat!

    • róislín:

      @mankso “a chuireann” isn’t wrong. The “-s” ending is simply a traditional relative-clause ending that pre-dates An Caighdeán. You see it routinely in the phrase “a bheas.” Go raibh maith agat as do cheist.

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