Irish Language Blog

Whose Hot Dog? Whose Soda Bread? Whose Tea Scone? (Súil Siar ar an Tuiseal Ginideach i nGaeilge) Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Our last blog took advantage of the “uaschamóg earráideach” in the now famous café sign from Waterville, Co. Kerry, to work on “an tuiseal ginideach,” the form of the noun used to show possession in Irish.  Remember the distinction in English between “loud Americans” and “loud American’s”?  For some more entertaining “example’s along tho’se line’s” ( : – J ), you might want to check out  The Apostrophe Protection Society, established in 2001.

But meanwhile, let’s look a little closer at how we show who owns or possesses what in Irish.  And the “dea-scéal” is … no apostrophes are involved.

But we do have a change to the word ending (here it will be “-ach” becoming “-aigh”) and initial mutation at the beginning of the word.  For this blog we’ll just look at nouns in the singular.  Plurals maybe we’ll do i mblag éigin eile.

Let’s look at the some of the nouns we used in the last blog, and add a few more similar ones.  As you remember, we used three nationality terms last time: Meiriceánach, Éireannach, Sasanach.

To whet your appetite for dealing with a topic often considered dry and, uafás na n-uafás, leadránach (boring), we’ll use examples pertaining to food.  And, in fact, let’s make them into a little matching game as well.  Three food items, three nationalities that would most typically consume that food item.  The food items will be in the word bank.  Each nationality is given in its basic form, and then there’s a blank to fill in the food item (freagraí thíos):

Banc Focal 1: a) arán sóide, b) scóna tae le huachtar téachta agus gruth líomóidí, c) brocaire te

Na Náisiúntachtaí

1) Meiriceánach; ________________ an Mheiriceánaigh [… un VERzh-ik-yawn-ee]

2) Éireannach; __________________ an Éireannaigh [… un AYRzh-un-ee]

3) Sasanach; ___________________  an tSasanaigh [… un TAHSS-un-ee]

And here are a few more, le banc focal eile:

Banc Focal 2: d) samósaí, e) burrito, f) hagaois

4) Albanach; ____________________ an Albanaigh [… un AHL-uh-bun-ee]

5) Indiach; _________________ an Indiaigh [… un INDJ-ee-ee]

6) Meicsiceach; _______________ an Mheicsicigh [… un VEK-shik-ee]

By the way, those nationality words were all 1st-declension nouns.  Not all 1st-declension nouns end in “-ach,” but a lot of them do, including most nationality names.  All these “-ach” words become “-aigh” in the genitive singular, used for saying “of the (whatever nationality) person.”

And finally, for good measure, but still on the food theme, some of you might recognize this phrase, adapted from the old song popularized by Josh White (gluais thíos):

millín feola aonarach an fhir bhig

Of course that last phrase introduces “an aidiacht sa tuiseal ginideach” (beag, becoming bhig) and a 3rd-declension noun (feoil, becoming feola here), which will have to be ábhar blag eile.  So did you notice that the noun “blag” in Irish doesn’t change for the genitive singular form here (ábhar blag, the topic of a blog).  And it has lots of company, nouns like “cailín” (hata cailín) and “gúrú” (támhnéal gúrú).  So, however “casta” the “tuiseal ginideach” may be, there is “solas” at the end of the “tollán,” or as more traditionally expressed in Irish, “ábhar dóchais.”  Not every Irish phrase requires as much change as we saw for “Meiriceánach,” “Éireannach,” and “Sasanach.”

Bhuel, sin é don bhlag seo.  Beagán gramadaí, b’fhéidir cúpla focal nua duit, agus spórt is spraoi le meaitseáil focal.  Go dtí an chéad uair eile. – Róislín


1c) brocaire te  an Mheiriceánaigh, the American’s hot dog

2a) arán sóide an Éireannaigh, the Irishman’s soda bread

3b) scóna tae le huachtar téachta agus gruth líomóidí an tSasanaigh, the Englishman’s tea scone with clotted cream and lemon curd

4f) hagaois an Albanaigh, the Scotsman’s haggis   

5d) samósaí an Indiaigh, the Indian’s samosas

6e) burrito an Mheicsicigh, the Mexican’s burrito

Gluais don líne ó amhrán Josh White: an fhir, of the man; bhig, little, small, here used in the genitive case to go with the phrase “of the man”; millín feola, lit. “little ball of meat”

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