Irish Language Blog

Practice with “Piontaí” Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

(le Róislín)

To wrap up this Guinnessian interlude, and before we return to díochlaontaí, how about some hands-on practice with ordering pints, or otherwise discussing them?  This will foreshadow an upcoming unit on “uimhreacha” in general.  Some of you will have done this before, but I hope you’ll find that “sraith” interesting and perhaps a little different from other presentation of the amazing world of Irish numbers (maoluimhreacha, bunuimhreacha, orduimhreacha, agus uimhreacha pearsanta, srl.)

But meanwhile, let’s just order pints of Guinness (or deochanna / beoracha eile). 

Counting pints involves both types of change to the initial “p” of “pionta.”  These are “lenition” or “séimhiú,” where the “p” changes to “ph,” and “eclipsis” or “urú,” where the “p” changes to “bp,” with only the “b” pronounced.   A quick preview of how these changes work is:

pionta, pint (basic form, with no changes)

an pionta, the pint (no changes, in this case because the noun is masculine)

trí phionta, three pints (with lenition and the “p” changing to “ph,” pronounced like “f”)

ocht bpionta, eight pints (with eclipsis and the “p” changing to “bp,” pronounced “b”)

A real basic phrase for ordering food or drinks is “ba mhaith liom” ([buh wah lyum], I would like).  Particularly with ordering drinks, there is a tendency to buy rounds, so one person might say “Ba mhaith linn” ([buh wah lin], We would like).  Alternatively, you could say, “Pionta, le do thoil” (A pint, please) and skip the full conditional-mood verb phrase.  There are several ways to be polite in this context.  So, seo agaibh piontaí, óna haon go dtí a deich.  If you want to talk about 11 pints, or 33, I’ll leave that to blag éigin eile:

Ba mhaith liom pionta.   I would like a pint.

If you want to emphasize “one” pint as opposed to “a” pint, as, for example, if ordering for two:

Pionta amháin agus oráiste amháin, le do thoil [“orange” here referring to the sweetened drink, not the fruit itself, also “oráiste,” or the juice, which would be “sú oráiste”]

Dhá phionta Smithwick’s, le do thoil.  Two pints of Smithwick’s, please.

Trí phionta Harp, le do thoil. 

Ceithre phionta leann fraoigh, le do thoil.  (Heather Beer, literally “heather ale,” but that distinction is ábhar blag eile; zymurgic commentary welcome, since there are so many mionrudaí involved)

Cúig phionta kurmi, le do thoil.  (Sin an bheoir Bhablónach)

Ba mhaith linn sé pionta Rosy Pelican (although, hmm, is that sold ar tarraingt, on tap?; ní cuimhin liom ach buidéil.  Cén fáth an tagairt seo d’India?  Bhuel, bhí mé i mo chónaí san India tráth, agus mar sin, cén fáth nach mbeadh?)

You might have already noticed that the word “pionta” does not take its plural ending (-ai) here.  So we’re not saying “piontaí” but just “pionta.”  That’s the standard Irish rule for counting.  Nouns stay singular after cardinal numbers: trí bhus (not “bhusanna”), seacht gcarr (not “gcarranna” or the other plural “gcairr”), etc.

Seacht bpionta Stella, le do thoil.

Ocht bpionta Heineken, más é do thoil é.

Naoi bpionta Carlsberg, le do thoil.

Deich bpionta Miller, le do thoil.

And finally, if you’re ordering half-pints, there’s relief from both lenition and eclipsis, since “leathphionta” starts with “l,” which doesn’t show the initial mutations in writing.  “L” can’t be eclipsed and an oral version of a lenited “l,” sort of extra-slenderized but not written with the “h,” is a pretty limited feature these days.  Back in 1980, Mícheál Ó Siadhail said this pertained to “some speakers of the [Cois Fhairrge] dialect,” and it seems to me that its use is fading. 

dhá leathphionta, sé leathphionta, seacht leathphionta, deich leathphionta,

Although who would be ordering that many half-pints in one go is a bit of a mystery to me. 

I hope I got all these right as to which are available on tap.  Rosy Pelican may remain a question, but you see, I’ve been waiting for years to have an opportunity to write about it, in any context, so I just figured I’d throw it out there and await a response. 

How about beoracha tíortha eile?  Beoir Astrálach?  Beoir Sheiceach?  Beoir Cheanadach?   Moltaí ar bith do liosta eile?  Má tá, inis dom an ndíoltar ar tarraingt iad.  Ina dtíortha féin agus in Éirinn, más féidir. 

Any other suggestions for beers “ar tarraingt”?  I guess we’ll have to do “buidéal/buidéil” soon, since it seems a lot more beers are sold in bottles than on tap.  One way to expand vocabulary anyway.

Oh, and for GuinnessIan, whoever you are, I hope you didn’t mind if my adjectival version of the word “Guinness” overlapped a bit with your moniker.  I figure that what with “Shavian,” “Joycean,” and “Foucauldian,” we should have some way to adjectivize the name, to promote Guinnessian discourse, theory, analysis, and whatever.   Anyway, the “ceannlitir sa lár” does make your version distinctive, Ian.   Sin é don bhlag seo.  – Róislín

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  1. Aidan:

    Chun do cheist a fhreagairt: níor chonaic mé riamh Rosy Pelican anseo, ach tá an cheart agat maidir leis an cuid is mó de na beoiracha eile. And, as to other beers that are available ‘ar tarraingt’, I’m delighted to report that there are a growing number of microbrews from Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Roscommon, Antrim, Kildare, and Waterford, amongst other spots – their beers are becoming more and more widely available (slowly, but surely). The people at maintain a directory of pubs around the country stocking the local brews, which is well worth a look if you’re nearby any of them. Sláinte!

    • róislín:

      @Aidan Go raibh maith agat! Tá sé sin an-suimiúil. Bhí sé go deas a léamh faoi na micreaghrúdlanna freisin. GRMA as an nasc do “Bheoir.” Nach iontach an oiread de bheoracha atá ann. – R

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