Irish Language Blog

Rudaí Gaelacha, Rudaí Éireannacha Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We’ve recently discussed rudaí Francacha and a cluster of rudaí Ollannacha, rudaí Dúitseacha, agus rudaí Ísiltíreacha.  How about now cúpla rud Gaelach agus cúpla rud Éireannach?

And before we proceed with the interesting cultural “stuif,” let’s look at the structures in the paragraph thuas.

Rudaí is a plural noun (plural of rud, thing), so the adjective modifying it is also plural, shown for these adjectives by adding the “-a” ending: rudaí Francacha (as opposed to “rud Francach”, srl.).

In English, the noun “couple” is followed by a plural as in “a couple of books” or “a couple of people.”  Or, beagáinín more dramatically, the title of the Irish comedy by Frank and Malachy McCourt, “A Couple of Blaguards “  Or, a little farther afield,  “A Couple of Misfits,” the song sung Hermie the Elf and Rúdolf an Réinfhia Deargshrónach, in the Burl Ives TV special.  Not that they call him a “réinfhia deargshrónach” in the show, but, after all, this is a blag dátheangach.  And yes, I know, that that clár is a good couple of decades old (i.e. more like 4 or 5 decades old, not the “two” that a “couple” is supposed to represent), but they keep re-releasing it, mar sin, tá súil agam go bhfuil sé feicthe agaibh.  So, whatever the topic following “couple” in English, it’s plural (books, people, blaguards, misfits, etc.).

Blaguards and misfits?  Hmmm, sounds like ábhar blag eile to me, am éigin sa todhchaí!

Anyway, back to the word “couple,” this time in Irish, “cúpla.”  It’s followed by the noun in the singular, as in “cúpla duine,” “cúpla rud,” or “cúpla focal.”  If there’s an adjective following the noun, it simply follows suit.  Masculine singular noun, masculine singular adjective: cúpla bosca mór.  Feminine singular noun, feminine singular adjective (marked by lenition, where possible): cúpla cearc bhán (a couple of white hens).  If we weren’t dealing with the word “cúpla,” and just wanted to say “big boxes” or “white hens,” we’d have “boscaí móra” or “cearca bána,” each with the appropriate plural endings.


cúpla rud Gaelach, a couple of Irish things (whatever the things might be)

cúpla rud Éireannach, a couple of Irish things (ditto)

For a couple of real-life examples, agus an stuif cultúrtha, and for good measure, ceistiúchán beag:

cúpla cnó gaelach, a couple of hazel-nuts (yes, literally the adjective means “Irish” but this is one of the two main terms for “hazel-nut” in Irish, the other being “collchnó,” which is more specifically related to the phrase for “hazel tree,” which is “crann coill”).  Note that “gaelach” here is lower-cased, since this is a generalized usage.

cúpla pas Éireannach, a couple of Irish passports

Here are some additional nouns that would typically be followed by either “Gaelach” or “Éireannach” – can you match them up?  Freagraí thíos.

1.. punt (when it was i bhfeidhm, now just a historical reference)

2.. cló (remember “an seanchló”?)

3.. léann (as in an academic department at a university)

4.. blastán (for salad)

5.. bréidín baile (homespun tweed)

6.. peil (as opposed to “peil Mheiriceánach”)

7.. ceol (for music related to Irish tradition, including, but not limited to, singing in the Irish language)

8.. ceol (any music created by Irish people, any style)

9.. caife (one could probably make a case for either choice here, but since there’s an established precedent for this usage, I’d say, tradition rules)

10.. fonn tíre (= folk tune)

Bhuel, sin cleachtadh beag ar an ábhar seo: Gaelach vs. gaelach, Gaelach vs. Éireannach, firinscneach vs. baininscneach, uatha vs. iolra.  Go leor do bhlag amháin, déarfainn.  SGF, ó Róislín

Freagraí: 1. punt Éireannach,  2. cló Gaelach, 3. Léann Éireannach (Irish Studies), 4. blastán Éireannach,  5. bréidín baile Éireannach, 6. peil Ghaelach (note the lenition), 7. ceol Gaelach, 8. ceol Éireannach, 9. caife Gaelach, 10. fonn tíre Gaelach

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