June 5, 2013 | Irish
On Irish Nouns and Irish Verbs
I am trying daily to acquire some more Irish parts of speech.
Lenition—which adds an h after and softens many beginning consonants in Irish—is taking over my life!
An Unambiguous Title: Irish Nouns, by Andrew Carnie
Today I wrote the word “thriathlete” in an e-mail and had to stare at it a moment before I realized what had gone wrong.
Today also saw two exciting language developments. One was the arrival of a review copy of Irish Nouns: A Reference Guide (2008) by Andrew Carnie.
It is from Oxford Linguistics, and the list price is a dazzling $120, though I see you can get it online for just a little more than half that.
You will never guess what it’s about!
The dedication reads, “For my father, Professor Robert Carnie, 1928-2007, who passed away as I was writing the final parts of this book. Among many other things, he taught me that categorizing and listing things has its own special beauty.” That is a lovely and moving tribute.
From Carnie’s Irish Nouns: Lots and Lots of…Nouns
I used to enjoy categorizing and listing things myself. I don’t so much anymore, but I do love when other people do, so that I can enjoy the fruits of their labors.
If you have ever studied Irish, you know that the subject of Irish nouns is not a simple one. I will report more on this book when I have had a chance to go through it.
The second exciting development: I posted a word recently on Forvo that I wanted pronounced. The word was cisteanach, which means “kitchen” (in the Connacht dialect, I believe). And BridEilis, whom I mentioned in a previous blog entry, pronounced it for me and posted her pronunciation online.
I knew because Forvo e-mailed me a notification, which opened by congratulating me and then proceeded to inform me:
There are new pronunciations for words you added to Forvo:
Word: cisteanach in Irish
We hope you like this and keep on using Forvo.
I do like it, Forvo, I do! I went to listen to my new pronunciation. It was like getting a package in the mail containing, oh, say, a noun book!
You can listen to it yourself by clicking the link above. Doesn’t she pronounce things clearly?
I am continuing to appreciate that any time I have grammar or other language questions, I can post them on the Irish Language Forum and get answers. One question I put up there on the 25th of May, on “Language Terminology - Irish vs. Gaelic vs. Irish Gaelic,” has exploded into 70 replies so far. My question, in case you can’t tell from the title, concerned how to refer to the language. Some of the responses have gotten pretty animated, as the study of Irish is not devoid of political content.
Cool-Looking Irregular Irish Verbs
Returning to the actual language itself, one of the things I am enjoying so much about Irish is simple aesthetics: the look of some of the words. The verbs, for instance, are fascinating. They do not line up with anything I knew from before.
The good news about Irish verbs is, there are very few irregular ones.
The not quite as good news (although I’m deriving a weird kind of pleasure from the disordered confusion in my brain) is that at present it feels as though many of the regular verbs might as well be irregular. Even the normal ones do funky things by English standards.
More on that later, when some of the disorder has subsided!