Irish Language Blog

Um, um, nasturtiums, geraniums, and chrysanthemums — oh my! (Ainmneacha Plandaí 5) Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Cén sórt bláthanna iad seo? Leid: ní gleoráin agus ní geiréiniamaí iad. An tríú "-um" ón teideal atá i gceist. (grianghraf: By Andy Mabbett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Cén sórt bláthanna iad seo? Leid: ní gleoráin agus ní geiréiniamaí iad. An tríú “-um” ón teideal atá i gceist. (grianghraf: By Andy Mabbett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Three more flower names this time around.  And what do they have in common?  Simply the fact that they end in “-um” in English.  So we’ll see if this gives us any sort of pattern for words borrowed from Latin, or do they all end up with different ending in Irish?

It’s actually a question I’d like to pursue more broadly sometime.   Do words that have a common suffix or ending in English, like “communism” and “consumerism,” always have the matching endings in Irish?  Not the actual English suffix, of course, but the equivalent Irish suffix, in this case “-achas.”  For “communism” and “consumerism,” it’s easy, “cumannachas”   and “tomhaltachas,” but are there some “-isms” that don’t use “-achas” as an ending for the Irish equivalent?  BTW, I tried using “-achas-anna” there, but it did seem a bit awkward.  I have a whole dictionary of “isms,” so someday, that’ll be another tionscadal do lá na coise tinne.

Anyway, my hunch is that English isms will mostly be “something-achas” in Irish, but there may be a few “-(e)achtanna,” and “-(a)íochtanna” thrown in.  I can’t wait to check out “NIMBYism .  I know my earlier searches for this word in Irish proved fruitless.  Maybe it’s been coined by now?

And now, let’s actually do our three flower types.

For nasturtium, we have “gleorán,” which also means “jingle” and also means “jangle.”  Wow, or as I’ve started to see in Irish recently, “Bhabh!”

Well, the further meanings of gleorán might be interesting for blag éigin sa todhchaí,  but for now let’s just go through its forms, quite standard for nouns ending in “-án” (i.e. typical 1st-declension masculine nouns)

an gleorán, the nasturtium; gleoráin, of a nasturtium; an ghleoráin, of the nasturtium (dath an ghleoráin, the color of the nasturtium)

gleoráin, nasturtiums; na gleoráin, the nasturtiums

gleorán, of nasturtiums; na ngleorán, of the nasturtiums (dathanna na ngleorán, the colors of the nasturtiums)

Next we have geiréiniam (geranium), which also has a more traditional Irish name “crobh fola” (!).    With “geiréiniam,” we see the “-am” ending that’s used for a lot of Latin-based words that have the “-um” ending in English.  We’ll deal more with the “crobh fola” form in a future blog, since I’m trying to focus here on what happens to the “-um” ending.  The forms are quite straightforward:

an geiréiniam, the geranium; geiréiniam, of a geranium; an gheiréiniam, of the geranium (no change to the ending because it’s 4th-declension)

geiréiniamaí, geraniums; na geiréiniamaí, the geraniums; geiréiniamaí, of geraniums; na ngeiréiniamaí, of the geraniums

And finally, we have “criosantamam” (chrysanthemum).  where the “-am” ending is interpreted as first-declension, so we’ll have “-aim” instead of “-amaí” for the plural.

an criosantamam, chrysanthemum; criosantamaim, of a chrysanthemum; an chriosantamaim, of the chrysanthemum

criosantamaim chrysanthemums; na criosantamaim, the chrysanthemums;  criosantamam, of  chrysanthemums; na gcriosantamam, of the chrysanthemum

So that’s three more flowers, and three different things that happen to the names compared to the English.  One has a completely separately word in Irish, with the “-án” ending.  The other two have two different versions of the “-am” ending, as shown by the plurals: geiréiniamaí vs. criosantamaim.  Endlessly suimiúil, as always, and remember, Irish rarely lets you rest on your laurels (botanically “labhrais” but for the idiom, simply “cáil,” meaning “reputation”).  Little differences in word patterns always seem to be lurking around the corner.  On that note, SGF — Róislín

Gluais: cumann, club, society, fellowship, association; tomhaltóir, a consumer

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