Irish Language Blog

Smashing Pumpkins – not really, just counting them, leniting them and eclipsing them (in Irish) Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

‘Tis the séasúr to be talking about puimcíní. In some previous blogs (naisc thíos), we’ve looked at how to count pumpkins and use the word “puimcín” in various types of abairtí and frásaí.

So this blog will basically recap some of the phrases we’ve looked at before, but with the added twist of … fill in the blanks! The blanks reflect what happens when we say “pumpkins” (plural), of a pumpkin (possessive), of pumpkins (possessive), my pumpkin, your pumpkin, his / her / their pumpkin(s), etc. And, for good measure, we’ll do “O Pumpkin!” (in case you meet An tOllphuimcín or if you want to use “pumpkin” as a an affectionate term of direct address, perhaps to young children).   Some of the phrases require lenition (inserting the letter “h”) and some require eclipsis (prefixing another consonant before the “p” of puimcín). And some have no change, just “p” for “puimcín.” An cuimhin leat céard a tharlaíonns i ngach cás?

So here goes. Fiche frása, fiche bearna le líonadh (agus b’fhéidir cúpla ceann breise), agus, ag bun an bhlag, fiche freagra:

  1. an __uimcín (the pumpkin)
  2. dath an p__uimcín (the color of the pumpkin)
  3. na puimcín__ mór__ (the big pumpkins)
  4. dathanna na __puimcíní (the colors of the pumpkins)
  5. muifín puimcí__ (a pumpkin muffin)
  6. ar an __puimcín (on the pumpkin – there are actually two choices here, depending on canúint, i.e. dialect)
  7. puimcín __mháin (1 pumpkin)
  8. d__á phuimcín (2 pumpkins)
  9. trí p__uimcín déag (13 pumpkins)
  10. ocht __ puimcín déag (18 pumpkins)
  11. fiche __uimcín (20 pumpkins)
  12. mo p__uimcín (my pumpkin)
  13. do p__uimcín (your pumpkin, talking about one person’s pumpkin)
  14. bhur __puimcín__ (your pumpkins, talking about several people’s pumpkins)
  15. a __uimcín (her pumpkin)
  16. a p__uimcín (his pumpkin)
  17. a __puimcín__ (their pumpkins)
  18. “A Ollp__uimcín!” (O Great Pumpkin!)
  19. “A p__uimcín!” (addressing an ordinary pumpkin, or using the phrase as an ordinary term of endearment, like “a stóirín” or “a mhuirnín”)
  20. “A ghnáthp__uimcín!” (derogatorily addressing an ordinary pumpkin and emphasizing that it’s just an ordinary pumpkin, so it doesn’t get swell-headed or, as some might say, swollen-headed, i.e. in Irish, “mustrach” or “leitheadach”). As for the likelihood of pumpkins getting swell-headed, let’s just hope it doesn’t happen to this year’s winner for size, gurd John Hawkley i Half Moon Bay, California (2058 punt); nasc faoin ngurd sin agus Hawkley thíos. It’s described as a “gourd,” not a “pumpkin,” but it still won this year’s Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off. I’ve never quite fully understood the parameters of pumpkinhood vs. gourdhood vs. squashhood. And the fact that the Irish word “ollphuimcín” technically means “squash pumpkin” doesn’t help. What’s a “squash pumpkin”?  If you can share some insight into this perplexing question, please do write in.

Slán go fóill — Róislín


1. an puimcín (the pumpkin)

2. dath an phuimcín (the color of the pumpkin)

3. na puimcíní móra (the big pumpkins)

4. dathanna na bpuimcíní (the colors of the pumpkins)

5. muifín puimcín (a pumpkin muffin)

6. a. ar an bpuimcín (Connacht, Munster) / b. ar an phuimcín (Ulster) (on the pumpkin)

7. puimcín amháin (1 pumpkin)

8. dhá phuimcín (2 pumpkins)

9. trí phuimcín déag (13 pumpkins)

10. ocht bpuimcín déag (18 pumpkins)

11. fiche puimcín (20 pumpkins)

12. mo phuimcín (my pumpkin)

13. do phuimcín (your pumpkin, talking about one person’s pumpkin)

14. bhur bpuimcíní (your pumpkins, talking about several people’s pumpkins)

15. a puimcín (her pumpkin)

16. a phuimcín (his pumpkin)

17. a bpuimcíní (their pumpkins)

18. “A Ollphuimcín!” (O Great Pumpkin!), which could be used either in the Charlie Brown story or if literally talking to a “squash pumpkin,” as noted above

19. “A phuimcín!” (“Pumpkin!” addressing an ordinary pumpkin)

20. “A ghnáthphuimcín!” (using the prefix “gnáth-,” which means “ordinary). Since “gnáth-“ is now the first part of this word in direct address, it’s lenited (g becoming gh). The pronunciation is like the “gh” in “a ghrá,” a term of endearment,) or the “gh” of “an Ghaeilge” (the Irish language), and, as it happens is also like the “dh” of “a Dhonncha” (addressing Donncha) or “Ní Dhomhnaill” (the feminine form of the name “O’Donnell / Ó Domhnaill”). In other words, this sound is the “voiced velar fricative,” and its pronunciation has been covered in several earlier blogs at this site (naisc thíos).

Here’s the breakdown of lenition vs. eclipsis:

Lenition (séimhiú) 2, 6b, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20

Eclipsis (urú) 4, 6a, 10, 14, 17

Cúpla nasc faoi phuimcíní: (18 Deireadh Fómhair 2012) (31 Deireadh Fómhair 2011) (An puimcín is mó i Meiriceá sa bhliain 2014; meáchan: 2058 punt) 

Cúpla nasc eile faoi “velar fricatives” (pronunciation) (How To Pronounce ‘A Dheaide,’ ‘A Dhaidí,’ and Other Forms of ‘Dad/Daddy’ in Irish) (Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives)

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