The Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of ‘an tSamhraidh’ — how to say ‘summer’ in Irish Posted by róislín on Jul 19, 2016 in Irish Language
Since we just finished talking about the “lazy hazy crazy” days of summer in the most recent blogpost, this might be a good time to look closer at the Irish word for summer itself, “samhradh.”Like most Irish nouns, it has a variety of forms, including: samhraidh, shamhraidh, tsamhraidh, tsamhradh, and, in the plural, samhraí.
So how do we use these and what would be some typical expressions with them?
samhradh [SOW-ruh or in Donegal Irish “SOW-roo”, with both versions saying “SOW” as in “now” or “cow,” not as in “sowing seeds”]. For any newcomers to Irish, it may be surprising that the “m” and the “d” are silent, but these are typical pronunciations.
an samhradh, the summer. Tá an samhradh ann. It’s summer, lit. “The summer is in it.” Interesting that Irish makes “summer” definite here (an samhradh) and the typical English expression, “It’s summer” doesn’t.
samhraidh [SOW-ree, with the “d” still silent], of summer (cúrsa samhraidh, a summer course; campa samhraidh, a summer camp)
an tsamhraidh [un TOW-ree, with “tow” rhyming with “now” and “cow,” not as in “tow-truck” or “tow-headed”], of the summer. Deireadh an tsamhraidh, the end of the summer. Lár an tsamhraidh, the middle of the summer. Tús an tsamhraidh, the beginning of the summer. And, to hark back to our previous blogpost, we could say “laethe suaimhneacha rósamhacha craiceáilte an tsamhraidh,” which would be one possibility for “The Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” — it might be a mouthful to sing in Irish, though, even for Nat King Cole, imagining him as a Gaeilgeoir. Note that while the English original does simply say, “of summer,” in Irish, it would be more typical to say “of the summer” (an tsamhraidh) in a context like this.
shamhraidh [HOW-ree], also means “of summer,” and specifically would follow a feminine singular noun (oíche shamhraidh, a summer night)
In standard Irish, we’d say, “sa samhradh,” with no change to the spelling, for “in the summer.” But in Donegal Irish we’d have “sa tsamhradh” [suh TOW-roo], since in that dialect, even the masculine nouns pick up the initial “t” after “sa.”
For the plural forms, we have:
samhraí [SOW-ree], summers
na samhraí, the summers
And at least one variation (Conamara), samhraíocha [SOW-ree-uh-khuh]
Because of the specific way the word “samhraí” is spelled, there’s normally no change when we say “of summers” or “of the summers”:
cuimhní samhraí ag an trá i m’óige, memories of summers at the beach in my youth
cuimhní na samhraí a chaith mé ag an trá i m’óige, memories of the summers I spent at the beach in my youth
Possible, but less typical, would be “shamhradh,” which in theory could follow a preposition like “ar,” “de,” “do,” “faoi,” ”ó,” “roimh,” “thar,” or “trí.” But I have to confess that examples don’t leap to mind for most of these, except, let’s say, “ó shamhradh go samhradh” (from summer to summer). Also, theoretically, we could have “shamhraí” [HOW-ree] as a plural form, after these prepositions, but I don’t think it would come up in typical everyday speech. Maybe “ó shamhraí m’óige” (from/since the summers of my youth).
Ar aon chaoi, sin iad foirmeacha an fhocail “samhradh,” le séimhiú, sa tuiseal ginideach, agus san uimhir iolra.
Hope yours is turning out to be “pléisiúrtha.” SGF — Róislín
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