Irish Language Blog

‘Ubh Fhriochta,’ ‘Uibheacha Friochta,’ or ‘na hUibhe Friochta’? (which egg term to use when, in Irish) Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Definitely variations on a theme of fried eggs!  Not, by the way, the “fried egg” otherwise known as the “sandalled anemone,” which is “bundún nóinín mór,” and which is not, afaik, inite (edible).   Tuilleadh eolais ar an anamóine sin sa nóta thíos.

And, for a second “by the way,” we’ll also look briefly at “a hubh fhriochta” and “na n-uibheacha friochta,” maybe even “Na hUibheacha Friochta.”  Note the slight punctuation and capitalization changes — the fleiscín in “n-uibheacha” and the “hU” combination (lower case, then upper case) if  the phrase “Na hUibheacha Friochta” is being used as a title.

So the key theme for today’s blog is how the phrase “fried eggs” varies according to usage with a sentence in Irish.

Since “ubh” ([uv], an egg) is a feminine noun, the adjective that describes it gets “lenited.”  In this case, that means that the “f” of “friochta” becomes “fh” and is silent.  The various forms for this phrase, then, are:

ubh fhriochta [uv RIKH-tuh], a fried egg

an ubh fhriochta, the fried egg

The “fh” reverts to normal (just “f”) when we say “of the fried egg”:

uigeacht na huibhe friochta, the texture of the fried egg

In theory, at least, simply “uibhe friochta” (without the initial “h”) should have reasonable usage, but in fact, these days when an indefinite noun with an adjective is in a genitive-case phrase, it often ends up as the original (“common”) form, in this case, ubh fhriochta.  So we’d likely have “giota ubh fhriochta” for “a bit of a fried egg.”

I promised you a prefixed “h,” so let’s also note: a hubh fhriochta, her fried egg.

And how does this differ from “his fried egg”?  That would be “a ____fhriochta.” (Freagra thíos)

With plural possessives, a prefixed “n”: ár n-ubh fhriochta, bhur n-ubh fhriochta, and a n-ubh fhriochta.

Hopefully, though, if we have to share a fried egg breakfast with someone, we’d actually have more than one egg to go around, which leads us nicely into the plural forms:

uibheacha friochta, fried eggs

na huibheacha friochta, the fried eggs (if it’s being capitalized, say for a title, the initial “h” stays lower case: “Na hUibheacha Friochta“)

patrún uibheacha friochta, a “fried-egg” pattern (got any better ideas?, hmm, maybe, “bricfeasta uibheacha friochta,” a breakfast of fried eggs, which is, at least, fun to say — try it, out loud)

costas na n-uibheacha friochta, the cost of the fried eggs (re: capitalization and punctuation, if used as a title, “Costas na nUibheacha Friochta“)

And finally, assuming more than one fried egg per person:

ár n-uibheacha friochta, bhur n-uibheacha friochta, a n-uibheacha friochta (our/your/their fried eggs)

By the way, if you want your eggs “scrofa,” you won’t have to worry about leniting your adjective, since “scr-,” as a consonant cluster never gets lenited!

And now the discussion of fried eggs in Irish is over.  I guess it’s up to you, mar léitheoirí, to decide whether it’s “over easy.”  SGF – Róislín (who is egging you on to relish the delights of Irish grammar, with different forms marked by  h-prefixes, lenition, and egglipsis — couldn’t resist)

Freagra: a ubh fhriochta (no h-prefix, just “ubh”)

P.S. If you are intrigued by what the “fried egg” appearance of the “sandalled anemone” actually looks like, you might want to check out the image at the aptly named MarLIN (Marine Life Information Network) site:

It’s curious, though, as I look at the image, that, imho, the Irish term, bundún nóinín mór, seems to fit it better.  AFAIK, the Irish phrase translates quite literally to “stump/fundament of a big daisy.”  Not quite sure what the “stump/fundament” aspect really refers to (bundún also does mean “tail-end,” and even “a morose person”).  The image of the sandalled anemone doesn’t look like the stump (stalk?) or bottom or tail-end of a daisy (tail-end of a daisy? say what?).  It looks to me basically like the flowering part of a daisy, yellow center and white petals. There’s one other bundún/anemone word: bundún leice, which is the sea-anemone, and that may ultimately shed some light on the “bundún” connection, but for now, we’ll have to say, ábhar blag eile.

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