Irish Language Blog

Sos Pónairí Glóthaí Posted by on Apr 18, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín}

Cad faoi shos beag ó na díochlaontaí? …  Ní chloisim aon ghearán!

So let’s take a little break (sos beag) from declensions (díochlaontaí) and talk about a timely topic, one of our favorite types of candaí Cásca.  I actually have been checking the Internet for uses of the term “pónairí glóthaí” for years, since the earlier Irish dictionaries (hard-copy) didn’t even include it.  For all of the delights and “joie de ‘ithe’” of the Irish/British confectionery industry, jellybeans didn’t seem to play a prominent part until relatively recently.  I still haven’t found many references (30-ish), but the phrase seems to be coming into its own.  I’d love to discuss other Irish and British sweets further, but there’s so much to say about jellybeans that we’ll have to wait till lá éigin eile for further neam neam like milseáin mhiontais, searbhmhilseáin, milseáin Pontefract (which are called “cakes” in English, but which really are a sweet, hence “milseán” here, not “císte”), táibléad (sin milseán freisin!), meascán “Dolly,” *gobstopairí (aka *giallbhristeoirí) and the like.  Seo séasúr na bpónairí glóthaí!

Cé mhéad pónaire ghlóthaí atá i lámh an duine seo? Freagra thíos!

Thumbnail for version as of 14:28, 1 October 2007

(GRMA, a Coolgirly88, as an ngrianghraf)


Actually, we won’t completely escape díochlaontaí here, since next we’ll talk about the structure of the phrase “pónaire ghlóthaí,” with its plural “pónairí glóthaí.”  But first, the components:

Pónaire” means “bean” in general (glas, bácáilte, soighe, srl.).  It’s feminine and 4th-declension.  Being in the 4th-declension (dea-scéala!) there are no separate endings for an tuiseal ginideach, just “pónaire” again!  Samplaí:

an phónaire ghlas, the green bean

blas na pónaire, the taste of the bean

na pónairí, the beans

cnoc pónairí, hill of beans, mar a déarfadh Rick sa scannán Casablanca dá ndubálfaí i nGaeilge é!  Couldn’t resist!  And couldn’t let Bogart bogart (bogartáil?) that one, not when it’s a great example of how 4th-declension Irish nouns don’t change for the genitive plural.

An dara cuid den fhrása “pónaire ghlóthaí”: glóthach, jelly (2nd-declension, feminine).  We’ve dealt with a number of 2nd-declension nouns by now, but this one has a slightly different pattern.  Similar words are “scornach” (throat) and its genitive “scornaí” (of a throat, as in “tinneas scornaí), and “gealach” (moon) with its genitive “gealaí” (as in “Éirí na Gealaí,” the Rising of the Moon, a phrase that resonates in Irish culture and history for over 200 years (1798, Lady Gregory’s 1907 “The Rising of the Moon,” and Maw’s 1970 opera, to name just a few).  From those samplaí, you may have already figured “glóthach” out:

an ghlóthach, the jelly.  Bratach dhearg anseo!  Remember, in both Ireland and the UK, “jelly” is usually what Americans would call “jello” (or by trademark Jell-O) or, more technically and without trademark bias, “gelatin.”  Fittingly, then, “bánghlóthach” is “blancmange,” and, even tastier, “crúb bó i nglóthach” is “cow-heel in aspic.”  I guess one could also say “in aspach” for the aspic part. At any rate, neither of these would be served in the usual way Americans consume “jelly,” either spread on their tósta bricfeasta or i gceapairí im piseanna talún.

Bottom line, “glóthach” is feminine, so the word “the” causes séimhiú and the initial “gl” changes to “ghl.”  For pronunciation, please see the notes in various previous blogs on pronouncing the “voiced velar fricative.” For the quick and dirty approach, don’t pronounce the “g” at all, but make a soft gargling sound and say “lo” at the same time.

glóthaí, of jelly, m. sh.: múnla glóthaí, a jelly (jello) mo(u)ld

glóthacha, jellies

glóthach, of jellies (note: back to the basic singular form, ach sin scéal eile!)

Agus anois, faoi dheireadh, an téarma “pónairí glóthaí” é féin:

an phónaire ghlóthaí, the jellybean, lit. “the bean of jelly,” with “glóthaí” lenited (ghl-) because “pónaire” is feminine

blas na pónaire glóthaí, the taste of the jellybean (no lenition of “glóthaí” here since we’re saying “of” the jellybean, and yes, that’s the shortcut freagra gramadaí, the long version is ábhar blag eile.

na pónairí glóthaí, the jellybeans

na bpónairí glóthaí, of the jellybeans, m. sh. dathanna lonracha mealltacha na bpónairí glóthaí (the luminous tantalizing colors of the jellybeans).

Sin agaibh pónairí glóthaí!  “Na blasanna?” a deir tú?  Ábhar blag eile, is dócha.  Lean ort ag léamh agus tiocfaidh sin lá éigin.

Slán go fóill, ó Róislín  Agus bain taitneamh as do phónairí glóthaí! 

Freagra: trí cinn déag (13).  Literally, this answer is “three-‘item’-ten,” but people don’t generally think of it in such convoluted terms.  This is the normal way to count amounts in the teens.  The word “cinn” actually means “heads” (plural of “ceann”), but not “heads” literally, just as a sort of “place-holder” for counting.

Gluais: *giallbhristeoir, jawbreaker (an téarma Béarla i Meiriceá Thuaidh, an Ghaeilge seo cumtha agam, fad m’eolais); *gobstopaire, gobstopper (cumtha agamsa freisin, fad m’eolais, ach comhcheangal deas le craiceann Gaeilge air, mar gheall ar an bhfocal “gob”); milseán miontais, a peppermint humbug; piseanna talún, peanuts; searbhmhilseán [SHAR-uv-VIL-shawn], acid drop (the sweet, that is, not the activity, since we’re talking candy here), táibléad, tablet (a sweet as well as tablet in general)

Nóta faoin bhfocal [fween WUK-ul] “dea-scéala” [dja-shkayl: note that “dea-“ is one syllable, not like “Leah,” and that the vowel sound is “a” (IPA /æ/) as in US English “bat” or “bad,” not like English “sea” or “lea“ (the type the lowing herd wends its way over).  That is to say, Irish “dea-“ isn’t pronounced like English “lea” as “meadow.”  Sorry, Thomas Gray, that was the first example I could think of for “lea,” for disambiguation.  Not that I think people explicitly disambiguated in your day (1716-71); they probably just talked.

Note also the “sh” sound in “scéala,” as you would also find in words like “scéal” (story), “scian” (knife), and “An Sciobairín,” (though not in its standard anglicized form, Skibbereen, which has a regular “s” as in “skip”).  It’s an “s caol” (slender s) according to Irish terminology.

Now that you can pronounce “dea-scéala,” what does it mean?  “Good news” or “good tidings,” lit. “good story.”  Even with the “-a” ending, it’s not really the plural of “story”  as such (that’s “scéalta” or “scéaltaí”).  I say “not really,” since I rarely say “always” or “never” concerning language because there are so many eisceachtaí do rialacha!  Including “-a” as a plural ending.  But that note is mainly for those interested in every possible variation of a word, not for most tosaitheoirí.

Nóta faoin bhfocal “dea-scéala” do siaradwyr Cymraeg (lucht labhartha na Breatnaise) agus duine ar bith eile a bhfuil suim aige/aici ann: is focail ghaolmhara iad “scéal” agus “chwedl.” “Dea-“ agus “da” mar a gcéanna.  Suimiúil, nach ea?      

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