Irish Nouns: A Reference Guide
September 19, 2013
Author Andrew Carnie
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication Date 2008
Skill Level Intermediate, Advanced
If you care about Irish nouns, Irish Nouns: A Reference Guide is for you—and don’t be put off by the list price. Yes, it is a stunning $120, and for a normal-size hardcover at that, but as of this writing you can find a new copy online through Amazon for less than half that.
The author, Andrew Carnie, writes in his dedication, “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.
I’m glad there are people who want to do this type of categorization, because I sure wouldn’t. Between the different cases, the gender, lenition, eclipsis, and plural forms, not to mention the variations among the different spoken dialects, the pursuit of Irish nouns is a complicated undertaking.
This book focuses on the standard written forms, but dialects aside, Irish nouns remain temperamental little grammatical units indeed!
Although I admired the book’s apparent thoroughness, in my brief time studying Irish I did not do more than skim through its pages, so I can’t rate it for you. If/when I go back to Irish, I hope to look at it more closely. This is a book, after all, containing a chapter spectacularly entitled “1,200 Irish Nouns,” which contains, well, “1,200 Irish nouns, from all the declensions and subgroups and plural types, fully declined for each case.”
How many people can say they’ve read a book with a chapter entitled “1,200 Irish Nouns”? And in case 1,200 is too wimpy for you, the next chapter is entitled “10,000 Irish Nouns” and offers the declension type and plural class for each one of those 10,000.
I think it would be fun to go to a cocktail party, be asked what I am reading, and be able to answer, with a straight face, “Irish Nouns.”