Again, some words about the use of “ag” with the autonomous verb

In English, the preposition by is used for announcing the agent of an action in passive constructions: it was done by him (passive) corresponds to he did it (active). In Irish, the story is more complicated.

The author of a book or an article: “A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens”: Use le, if there is no verbal construction involved: Scéal fá Dhá Chathair le Charles Dickens. (Of course, it should be Scéal faoi Dhá Chathair in standard Irish, but the existing translation comes from the pre-Caighdeán era, and the translator was an Ulster dialect speaker.)

When the action is (or was, or will be) ongoing and not completed, we use the construction with do + possessive + verbal noun. This passive construction takes the ag agent.

Tá muid dár n-ionsaí ag trúpaí naimhdeacha “We are being attacked by enemy troops”

Bhí sibh do bhur mealladh ag an gcailín leathnocht, agus níor thug sibh faoi deara go raibh bhur bpócaí á bhfolmhú ag a páirtí “You guys were being charmed by the half-naked girl, and you didn’t notice that your pockets were being emptied by his partner”

Bhí “Scéal fá Dhá Chathair” á chumadh ag Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities was being written by Charles Dickens” (or rather “authored, composed” – I used the verb cum!/cumadh)

When the action is definitely completed, we use the participle (the -the/-te/-tha/ta form).

Tá an cath briste orainn ag na trúpaí naimhdeacha “We have been defeated by the enemy troops” (in Irish we say, “the battle has been broken on us by the enemy troops”)

Bhí sibh meallta ag an gcailín leathnocht “You guys had been charmed by the half-naked girl”

Bhí “Scéal fá Dhá Chathair” cumtha ag Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities had been written by Charles Dickens”

There is a definite difference between the Irish construction Bhí sé déanta aige and the English construction It was done by himThey do not mean the same. The Irish construction is basically the exact equivalent of the German “situational passive” or Zustandspassiv – es war von ihm gemacht/getan. It means that it had been done previously, but the prevailing situation is that it was not being done anymore, and only the results existed at the time referred to. Thus, tá an cath briste orainn is best translated with the English perfect: we have been defeated; and bhí an scéal cumtha is a pluperfect: the story had been composed.

Now, of course, you want to ask, how you exactly translate into Irish such a construction as A Tale of Two Cities was written by Charles Dickens. This English construction does signal that the act of writing has been completed, but it also stresses the act, not just the result (the Irish situational passive only stresses the result). My short answer is: you don’t. You say instead Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, or ’twas Charles Dickens who wrote A Tale of Two Cities. Thus:

Chum Charles Dickens “Scéal fá Dhá Chathair”.

Ba é Charles Dickens a chum “Scéal fá Dhá Chathair”.

Those who learnt their Irish mainly from contemporary non-native sources will ask me, what about *Cumadh “Scéal fá Dhá Chathair” ag Charles Dickens then? I have always recommended against using ag agents with the autonomous verb. Here is why.

It is to be admitted that during different periods, there have been attempts to use an agent with the autonomous verb. My illustrious fellow countryman Anders Ahlqvist once pointed out to me that Old Irish used the preposition that was the cognate of as (‘out of’). Diarmuid Ó Sé has in his article in Ériu in 2006,  Agent Phrases with the Autonomous Verb in Modern Irish, surveyed this kind of constructions. It is suggested by Niall Ó Dónaill in his indispensable dictionary that le was used in older literary Irish – basically, in Early Modern Irish and later attempts to approximate classical style – for this purpose.

However, Ó Sé is of the opinion that such constructions as cailleadh X le Y “X was lost (killed) by Y” do not suggest that Y killed X, but rather, that Y was the reason of X being lost or killed – i.e., Y didn’t wield the weapon that killed X. A typical construction is cailleadh an laoch le bean álainn – i.e. a beautiful woman was the reason why the hero was killed (in the classical or postclassical examples used by Ó Sé, bean still had the dative form, so cailleadh an laoch le mnaoi álainn would be closer to the actual style, but you get the picture). The idea here is more like “he was lost/killed through a beautiful woman, a beautiful woman was his undoing”.

In fact, this usage of le is still common in such constructions as cailleadh le hocras é “he starved to death” (“he was lost through hunger”) and even the active construction fuair sé bás le hocras (“he got death through hunger”). I would also suggest that le is possible as a kind of agent preposition when the agent is not personal, but, for instance, a force of nature, so that it is difficult to say whether it is an agent or a reason: scoilteadh an spéir le tintreach (“the sky was split by/with a lightning”).

Sometimes, very rarely, you see le in contemporary literature used as agent. I have seen it once or twice in all the Ulster folklore collections I have perused for the last twenty years. I remember there is one very thin volume from Ulster – I can’t recall the title, and it seems the book is not included in my old bibliography – which includes one instance of le obviously used as a personal agent. (And of course, in An Chéad Mhám by Seán Bán Mac Meanman, there were examples of this le usage as an attempt at archaism, but that does not count.)

Another possible agent preposition is ó, which is used in Connacht Irish in such expressions as pósadh ón sagart iad “they were married by (actually from) the priest” (this example comes from Tomás de Bhaldraithe). Moreover, Ó Sé points out that Tomás de Bhaldraithe also found such gems in Connacht as this:

cén fáth nach múinfidís ó Ghaeilgeoir í? “why wouldn’t they teach her from an Irish-speaker?” (the meaning intended is “why wouldn’t they have her taught by an Irish-speaker?”)

Now, I feel very tempted to recommend these usages of ó to you, but I guess I must refrain from that. This ó usage will not be understood outside Connacht, and it is so uncommon that I have never encountered it in native literature or folklore.

Then that ag. Such constructions as goideadh an t-uisce beatha ag an druncaire “the whisky was stolen by the drunkard” are encountered in non-native literature, in bad newspaperese and in officialese, but I must say that they are really grating if you have acquired your Irish through the study of native literature and folklore. In fact, while folklore elicited from terminal speakers (i.e. speakers who aren’t regular users of the language anymore, and whose grasp of the language is loosening) does tend to exhibit unacceptable Anglicisms and solecisms, this ag usage is practically non-existent even in such material.

Diarmuid Ó Sé notes that they are sometimes found in texts written by native speakers especially of Munster background, when they try to sound refined and literary. Myself, I have found an abundance of ag agents in Dónall Mac Sithigh’s book Fan Inti, which is a Munster native speaker’s account of traditional boat-making. However, the book is in this respect very exceptional. It is my impression that these constructions are one of the most obvious differences between “good Gaeltacht Irish” (which you acquire, in Finland, by reading books written by native speakers as well as by reading folklore) and “that horrible school Irish”.

Diarmuid Ó Sé also notes that the ag is most often attached to the autonomous past tense, typically not to other tenses. He says this is a “genuine syntactic restriction” and refers to Edward Keenan’s and Matthew Dryer’s article on Passive in the world’s languages, which suggests that there is a connection between perfective verb and the need for an agent construction. Irish past tense is, according to him, basically an aorist, i.e. a verb form that refers to a completed (perfective) action. I agree on that, but I find Ó Sé’s explanation a little long-winded.

My impression is that this use of the ag agent has originated in non-native Irish and especially in direct relative clauses, which can be ambiguous: if we say an t-oifigeach a mharaigh an saighdiúir, does it mean “the officer who killed the soldier”, or “the officer whom the soldier killed”? You are tempted to use *an t-oifigeach a maraíodh ag an saighdiúir if the second interpretation is correct.

However, there is another way to avoid this ambiguity. You see the fact is that you are allowed to use indirect relative clause in such occasions. Then, write out the correct pronoun and use the indirect relative particle. Like this:

an t-oifigeach ar mharaigh sé an saighdiúir “the officer who killed the soldier”

an t-oifigeach ar mharaigh an saighdiúir é “the officer whom the soldier killed”

 

These usages are found in native folklore, and while they are not very common, they are found in all dialects, and sometimes even when they are not necessary. For some reasons though, they seem not to be taught at school, which may be one reason why those ag agents are so common in school Irish.

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No two articles in Irish!

In English, if a noun is followed by of + another noun, and the whole construction is supposed to be definite, both nouns are preceded by a definite article. Thus, we say in English the president of the republic. (On the other hand, we also say the president of Ireland, but in the latter example, Ireland is definite by virtue of being a proper noun.)

In Irish, one definite article is enough to make the whole expression definite. Thus, we say Uachtarán na Poblachta, and Uachtarán na hÉireann – and these constructions are the exact equivalents of the president of the Republic, the president of Ireland, in English. The word Uachtarán is already definite, because it is followed by a definite genitive.

On the other hand, when used alone, it obviously takes the article, when definite: Uachtarán “a President”, an tUachtarán “the President”.

When such a construction as Uachtarán na Poblachta itself is put in a genitive position, the first noun in it does not change: áras Uachtarán na Poblachta “the house of the President of the Republic”, but áras an Uachtaráin “the house of the President”. When the word that requires genitive form is basically used as a preposition, the older possibility of putting even the first noun into genitive is possible: fad radhairc mo shúli dtreo Teilifíse na Gaeilge. (The latter I remember from a nineties issue of Feasta; back then I thought it was wrong and thought it should have been corrected into I dtreo Theilifís na Gaeilge, but now I know that both alternatives are correct.) 

Compare also these two: stair na Stát Aontaithe “the history of the United States”, but stair Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá “the history of the United States of America”. In the first one, Stáit becomes Stát in genitive plural, because there it is definite by virtue of being preceded by a definite article, but in the second example, it freezes into Stáit, because it is definite by virtue of being followed by the genitive form of Meiriceá.

Meiriceá is an example of a proper name which does not take article, but as you should know, proper names often do take articles, such as the names of countries: an Fhrainc, an Ghearmáin, an Ollainn, an Rúis, an Iodáil, an Pholainn, an tSeic, an tSlóvaic, an Chróit… OF course, Éire and Alba take the article only in genitive: na hÉireann, na hAlban (and have a special dative form after simple prepositions: tá mé ag dul go hAlbain, tá cónaí ar Sheán in Éirinn). Sasana is treated the same way as Meiriceá i.e. it is otherwise the same in nominative and in genitive, but lenites in genitive: rí Shasana “the king of England”. (Note though that at least some Ulster writers use Sasain instead of Sasana, and then it has the genitive form na Sasan, similarly to na hAlban and na hÉireann).

So, basically: if a noun is followed by the genitive of a definite noun, it is itself definite and does not need a definite article. Definite nouns are those that are preceded by a definite article, and those that are definite because they are proper names (such as the mentioned Meiriceá and Sasana, as well as personal names such as Seán, Máire, Máirtín, Seoirse and so on).

When the noun that is definite by being followed by a definite genitive is put in the genitive position itself, it does not change its endings, as we saw. However, it does lenite. This way:

an fear “the man”, gluaisteán an fhir “the automobile of the man, the man’s automobile”, inneall ghluaisteán an fhir “the engine of the man’s automobile” (BUT: inneall an ghluaisteáin “the engine of the automobile”)

an chathair “the city”, forimeall na cathrach “the outskirts of the city”, muintir fhorimeall na cathrach “the people/inhabitants of the city’s outskirts” (BUT: muintir an fhorimill “the people of the outskirts”)

Sasana “England”, príomhchathair Shasana “the capital of England”, stair phríomhchathair Shasana “the history of the capital of England” (BUT: stair na príomhchathrach “the history of the capital”)

Natural placement of explanatory relative sentence

The expression “explanatory relative sentence” means here such relative sentences as “the man who spoke to you“, i.e. the man who is defined by the fact that he spoke to you, what we know about him (to start with) is the fact that he spoke to you.

Let’s say, for instance, “The man who spoke to you wrote this novel”. In Irish, this translates into Scríobh an fear a labhair leat an t-úrscéal seo. That’s fine, but the explanatory relative clause is here inside the main clause: Scríobh an fear [a labhair leat] an t-úrscéal seo. In this example it is easy enough to tell the relative clause from the main clause, but in long and complicated sentences it might become more difficult.

Instead, it is advisable to write:

An fear a labhair leat, scríobh sé an t-úrscéal seo “The man who spoke to you, he wrote this novel”

More examples:

An bhean atá ag canadh amhráin, is léise an gluaisteán úd thall “The automobile over there belongs to the lady who is singing” (“The woman who is singing, the automobile over there belongs to her”)

An chuid ba mhó de na scríbhneoirí Sóivéadacha a chuaigh ag scríobh úrscéalta i ndiaidh an chogaidh, bhí siad ina n-iriseoirí cathéadain lena linn “Most of the Soviet writers who went to write war novels after the war were front journalists during it.”

An fear a chéadcheap Teoiric na Coibhneasachta, is é sin Albert Einstein, chaith sé tréimhse ag obair in Oifig na bPaitinní san Eilvéis. “The man who invented the theory of relativity, that is, Albert Einstein, – he spent some time working in the Swiss Patent Office.”

 

 

Another Guide to Good Irish – Treoirleabhar Eile don Dea-Ghaeilge (Alt i nGaeilge Amháin)

When Gaelscéal still existed, I wrote some articles or reviews for it, and among them was a review of Ceart nó Mícheart – Seán Ó Ruadháin’s guide to good Irish. The review is republished here in its entirety – only in Irish.

Nuair a bhí an iris Gaeilge Gaelscéal ann, bhreac mé síos cúpla alt nó léirmheas di, ina measc an léirmheas seo ar an leabhar úd Ceart nó Mícheart – treoirleabhar Sheáin Uí Ruadháin don dea-Ghaeilge. Athfhoilsítear an léirmheas sin ina iomlán anseo – i nGaeilge amháin.

Súil an Ruadhánaigh ar cheart is ar mhícheart na Gaeilge

Sean-nath smolchaite é ar na saolta seo go bhfuil difríocht shuntasach idir ”Gaeilge na Gaeltachta” agus ”an Ghaeilge uafásach scoile”. Ar an drochuair is beag iarracht a rinne aon duine leis an difríocht dhiamhair seo a chur i míotar i dtéarmaí a cheadódh dúinn an chéad rud acu a roghnú thar an dara rud, agus más maith le haon duine an léim chandamach seo a chur de caithfidh sé na blianta fada a dhíomailt ag déanamh staidéir ar shaothar na scríbhneoirí Gaeltachta agus ar an mbéaloideas féin, go dtí go mbeidh sé sách teann as a chuid féin den teanga. Ní féidir linn ríocht rúndiamhair na dea-Ghaeilge a shroicheadh trí aon treoirleabhar amháin a léamh ó chlúdach go clúdach, cé go bhfuil mé féin beagnach cinnte gur féidir a leithéid a scríobh (agus ar ndóigh titfidh sé ar mo chrannsa an ceann sin a bhreacadh síos an lá is faide anonn, ná síligí a mhalairt). A fhad is nach mbeidh an treoirleabhar sin againn caithfidh muid leor a ghabháil le leabhair cosúil le An Cabhsa le Tomás de Bhial, An Béal Beo le Tomás Ó Máille, agus an leabhar a bheas faoi chaibidil agam thíos anseo, mar atá, Ceart nó Mícheart le Seán Ó Ruadháin.

Ní atheagrán é seo ar leabhar a cuireadh i gcló fadó ach díolaim nua: is é an t-ábhar atá ann ná na haltanna faoi cheart na Gaeilge a d’fhoilsigh an Ruadhánach ar Feasta, iris Chonradh na Gaeilge, thar na blianta. Ba é Liam Mac Peaircín a chuir an bailiúchán seo i dtoll le chéile – tá mé admhálach nach bhfuil a fhios agam mórán ina thaobh, ach amháin gur léigh mé alt nó dhó leis ar An Linn Bhuí, bliainiris Ghaeltacht na Rinne. Ós conspóidíocht idir an Ruadhánach agus lucht an chomhfhreagrais atá i gcuid mhór de na scríbhinní, tá cuid mhaith litreach ó na céilí diospóireachta ar fáil sa leabhar seo chomh maith, beart a mholaim go mór. Bíonn a lán le rá ag Muiris Ó Droighneáin ach go háirithe, agus an chuma ar an scéal gur bhain sé an-sult as a bheith ag spochadh as an Ruadhánach bocht ó am go ham.

Maidir le Seán Ó Ruadháin féin bhí sé ar duine den bheagán scríbhneoirí Gaeltachta a chleacht canúint Thuaisceart Mhaigh Eo ina chuid saothar. Comhréiteach iontach í an chanúint seo idir Gaeilge Dheisceart Chonnacht agus Gaeilge Thír Chonaill, agus is mór an trua nach bhfuil mórán cainteoirí dúchais fágtha á labhairt inniu. Ar ndóigh tá an chanúint curtha i míotar ag na béaloideasóirí: an té ar suim leis staidéar a dhéanamh uirthi is féidir leis dul i dtuilleamaí an dá bhailiúchán béaloidis a d’fhoilsigh Séamus Ó Catháin agus Caitlín Uí Sheighin, A Mhuintir Dhú Chaocháin Labhraígí Feasta agus Le Gradam is le Spraoi – agus ós ag trácht ar an gcanúint sin atáim is fearr gan dearmad a dhéanamh den dá leabhar beag deas scéalaíochta a breacadh síos ó chaint an tseanchaí Mícheál Mac Ruairí, Ridire an Gháire Dhuibh agus Mac Mic Iascaire Buí Luimnigh. Tá súil as Dia agam go mbeidh Cló Iar-Chonnacht sásta an dara ceann acu a athfhoilsiú lá de na laethanta seo in eagrán nach dtitfidh na leathanaigh as nuair a léifear an chéad uair é.

Is é an leabhar is tábhachtaí a scríobhadh sa chanúint seo ná an t-úrscéal úd Pádhraic Mháire Bhán, agus ar ndóigh ba ó pheann an Ruadhánaigh chéanna a tháinig sé. Úrscéal traidisiúnta Gaeltachta atá ann go bunúsach agus imeachtaí spreagúla ann a chuideos leis an bhfoghlaimeoir teanga phraiticiúil choincréiteach a thógáil is a shealbhú. Thairis sin ba eisean a d’aistrigh David Copperfield go Gaeilge – ar mhí-ámharaí an tsaoil níor tháinig eagrán nua-aimseartha den mhórshaothar sin i gcló go fóill, agus níor éirigh liom teacht ar chóip den tseaneagrán le go bhféadfainn litriú an lae inniu a chur i bhfeidhm air, mé féin. (Is cuimhin liom go bhfaca mé an leabhar i siopa leabhar Kenny’s i nGaillimh sa bhliain 1998 nó 1999, agus aiféaltas an domhain orm inniu nár cheannaigh mé í!) Ba é scéal David Copperfield an t-aon úrscéal le Charles Dickens a d’aistrigh an Ruadhánach go Gaeilge; in aimsir an tsean-Ghúim tháinig leagan Gaeilge de A Tale of Two Cities, mar atá, Scéal fá Dhá Chathair, i gcló freisin, ach ba é Seán Mac Maoláin a d’aistrigh é, agus mar sin tá blas láidir Ultach ar an aistriúchán sin.

Is é An Béal Beo an leabhar is túisce a ritheas liom a chur i gcomparáid le Ceart nó Mícheart. Ar ndóigh is leabhar é an chéad cheann acu a ceapadh mar leabhar ó thús, agus é i bhfad níos córasaí ina chur chuige: is éard atá ann ná cur síos ar ghnéithe éagsúla de shaol traidisiúnta na Gaeltachta a chuireas cora cainte na Gaeilge dúchasaí ina gcoimhthéacs ceart cultúrtha. Is é an coimhthéacsú bua mór Ceart nó Mícheart freisin, ach ansin ní bhíonn i gceist go bunúsach ach coimhthéacs na teanga: tugtar na focail is na cora cainte taobh istigh d’abairtí críochnaithe, de struchtúir chríochnaithe comhréire a chuidíos leis an léitheoir a chuid féin a dhéanamh díobh. Agus tá cuid mhaith grinn ann freisin, rud a bhíos de dhíth go mór mór ar an bhfoghlaimeoir agus é ag streachailt leis an nGaeilge.

Bíonn an Ruadhánach míshásta nó easaontach leis an gCaighdeán ó am go ham, rud is minic a spreagas a chuid léitheoirí chun pinn, go háirithe Muiris Ó Droighneáin: más é an Ruadhánach Searbhlach de Hoilm, is é an Droighneánach an tOllamh Séamas Ó Muircheartaigh. Uaireanta is léir go bhfuil an Ruadhánach róchinnte faoi rud éigin nach bhfuil d’údarás aige leis ach a chanúint nó a réamhbhreithiúnas pearsanta féin, agus ansin ní mór do Mhuiris nó do dhuine éigin eile de lucht an chomhfhreagrais a bhotún a cheartú. Sampla maith é an cogadh dearg a d’éirigh idir Seán agus Muiris faoi inscne an fhocail úd ”gorta”: ainmfhocal firinscneach é dar le ligeadóirí agus casadóirí an Chaighdeáin (an Gorta Mór, mar shampla), ach is é diantuairim an Ruadhánaigh gur focal baininscneach é. (Mé féin nuair a bhí mé ag iarraidh aithris a dhéanamh ar Ghaeilge na scríbhneoirí Ultacha is é an bharúil a bhí agamsa san am go raibh ”gorta” baininscneach acu siúd, ach ní bheinn chomh ceanndána leis an Ruadhánach agus é ag áitiú go bhfuil an fhirinscne i bhfad níos teirce sna canúintí ná an bhaininscne.)

Uaireanta téann an Ruadhánach glan oscartha thar fóir agus é ag iarraidh nós a mhuintire nó a chanúna féin a chur chun cinn mar aoncheart Gaeilge. Sampla de seo is ea an dóigh a n-áitíonn sé go bhfuil ”fear céile” mícheart, agus gur chóir ”fearchéile”, is é sin, focal comhshuite, a dhéanamh de. Mar sin, cé go bhfuil an-eolas sa leabhar seo, teilgeanacha cainte agus míniúcháin séimeantaice ach go háirithe, is gá gan a bheith ag síleadh gurbh ionann tuairimí an Ruadhánaigh agus briathar deireanach deifnideach Dé i dtaobh cheart na Gaeilge. Bhí mo dhuine chomh garbh gangaideach, chomh tintrí tarcaisneach le Séamas ”Máire” Ó Grianna féin i gcúrsaí teanga, ach ní hionann sin is a rá go raibh an ceart aige i gcónaí agus é ag cur cogaidh ar an gcuid de na léitheoirí a d’easaontaigh leis.

Maidir leis an gcóiriú a rinne Liam Mac Peaircín ar an leabhar is beag locht is féidir liom a fháil air. D’fhan sé dílis go maith d’fhéinchanúint (canúint phearsanta) an Ruadhánaigh, agus is dócha go gcuirfinn féin slat an chaighdeáin ní ba déine uirthi in áiteanna. Ach ar ndóigh is dual domsa an bhéim is troime a chur ar inúsáidteacht an leabhair ag Gaeilgeoirí an lae inniu, na foghlaimeoirí ach go háirithe. Is léir gur theastaigh ó Liam a cheart a thabhairt don teangeolaí freisin, agus tuigim a chás, nó is doiciméad tábhachtach i stair na teanga é an leabhar seo freisin, go háirithe i stair fhorbairt an Chaighdeáin, agus cuirfidh lucht na sochtheangeolaíochta suim ann dá réir. Ar ndóigh tá úsáid agus úimléid sa leabhar don ghnáthfhoghlaimeoir féin mar atá sé, agus tá súil agam go mbeidh na foghlaimeoirí ag baint leasa as go fairsing. Agus ar an dea-uair ba duine acu siúd ba túisce a chuir in iúl domsa go raibh a leithéid seo de leabhar ar fáil.

Bhí mise inbharúla riamh gurb í an stíl is fearr ná Gaeilge an chainteora dhúchais a bhfuil tuiscint an scríbhneora aige ar cheart na teanga. Duine den chineál sin é Seán Ó Ruadháin. Cé nach gcaithfidh muid ár bhfaomhadh a thabhairt do gach uile fhocal uaidh (is dócha go bhfuil mé féin sásta foighneamh le cleachtais áirithe a dtugann seisean ”dearg-Bhéarlachas” orthu toisc gurbh ó scríbhneorí dúchasacha Gaeltachta a d’fhoghlaim mé an chéad uair iad) ní mór dúinn aird mhaith a thabhairt ar a bhfuil le rá aige. Molaim Liam Mac Peaircín go mór mór as an éacht a rinne sé ag cur an tsaothair thábhachtaigh seo ar fáil dúinn.

Guides to good Irish – Treoirleabhair don dea-Ghaeilge

An Béal Beo. By Tomás Ó Máille. This one was first published in the good old days of the Free State, and when I entered the Irish-language scene in the nineties, it had the reputation of some sort of secret medicine. I acquired an old copy and started to transform it to the new spelling for my own use, but fortunately, immediately after the millennium, the book was reissued in a modernized version. It teaches traditional Gaeltacht Irish in its cultural setting – among other things it includes the description of a loom and its parts (!). You might find it rather challenging, but if you want to learn to think in Irish, to use traditional sayings and idioms and understand their meaning, you need to read this book, and make extensive notes. The language is rather Connemara-slanted, but there is linguistic material from other dialects.

Tomás Ó Máille a scriobh. Foilsíodh an chéad eagrán thiar i laethanta an tSaorstáit, agus nuair a thosaigh mise ag cur aithne ar shaol na Gaeilge is éard a fuair mé amach go rabhthas ag labhairt faoin leabhar seo mar a bheadh druagántacht na seanleigheasraí ann. Cheannaigh mé seanchóip agus chrom mé ar an litriú nua a chur i bhfeidhm uirthi le haghaidh m’úsáide féin, ach, ádhúil go leor, tháinig eagrán nua i gcló tar éis chasadh na mílaoise. Is éard a mhúineas an leabhar seo ná Gaeilge thraidisiúnta i gcomhthéacs an tseansaoil – mar shampla tá cur síos ann ar sheol an fhíodóra agus ar a pháirteanna (!). Is dócha go bhfaighidh tú an leabhar réasúnta deacair, ach más mian leat a bheith in ann smaoineamh as Gaeilge, úsáid a bhaint as na teilgeanacha dúchasacha cainte agus a mbunchiall a thuiscint, caithfidh tú an leabhar seo a léamh agus nótaí cuimsitheacha a bhreacadh síos. Tá blas Chonamara ar stíl an údair, ach san am chéanna tarraingíonn sé ar na canúintí eile freisin le haghaidh ábhair.

An Cabhsa, By Tomás de Bhial. This is a book of idiomatic expressions explained in their context, in sentences which make sense, and with practical advice. If you find the idea of reading Gaeltacht literature intimidating, you might start with this book. The writer was a teacher in the Ring of Waterford Gaeltacht, and the language used is mostly very mainstream, the kind of Munster and Connacht expressions that are widely used even by non-natives.

Tomás de Bhial a chum an ceann seo. Is éard atá sa leabhar seo ná teilgeanacha dúchasacha cainte agus iad mínithe ina gcoimhthéacs, in abairtí a bhfuil ciall cheart iontu, chomh maith le leideanna praiticiúla. Más ábhar scanraidh duit dul i ngleic le litríocht na Gaeltachta, tá súil agam go réiteoidh an leabhar seo an ród romhat beagáinín. Bhi an t-údar ina mhúinteoir i nGaeltacht na Rinne, agus an teanga a úsáidtear sa leabhar tá sí an-chóngarach do phríomhshruth na Gaeilge – teilgeanacha cainte ó Chonnachtaibh nó ón Mumhain atá ann, Gaeilge den chineál a d’fheicfeá ag scríbhneoirí neamhdhúchais chomh maith.

Dea-Chaint John Ghráinne agus a chairde. Collected by Tom Hodgins. This is a book about expressing emotions in idiomatic Irish. This is Ulster Irish pure and unadulterated, and if you want to express your emotions like Séamus Ó Grianna, you need to read this book. However, having read Ó Grianna’s available books as well as other Ulster classics, I was mostly familiar with the material in the book already. This is good news though: it means that you can learn to express emotions in good Irish if you read Gaeltacht literature; and on the other hand, that this book can make that literature more accessible for the learner.

Tom Hodgins a bhailigh. Leabhar é seo a chuirfeas ar do chumas do chuid mothúchán a chur in iúl go nádúrtha trí mheán na Gaeilge dúchasaí. Is í Gaeilge Uladh an chanúint a úsáidtear. Mar sin, más maith leat friotal Shéamuis Uí Ghrianna a chur ar do chuid mothúchán, ní mór duit an leabhar seo a léamh. Ón taobh eile de áfach, caithfidh mé a rá nár tháinig mé ar mhórán rudaí anseo nach raibh ar eolas agam cheana féin, nó bhí mé tar éis mionstaidéar a dhéanamh ar shaothar Uí Ghrianna agus ar na clasaicigh eile ó Chúige Uladh cheana féin. Dea-scéala é sin féin áfach: ciallaíonn sé gur féidir leat friotal na mothúchán a fhoghlaim trí litríocht Gaeltachta a léamh, agus go gcuirfidh an leabhar seo le do thuiscint ar an litríocht sin, más foghlaimeoir thú.

“…mar a déarfá”, by Séan Mac Cionnaith. This is a book of Irish clichés, as the author suggests. This is basically a very good, extensive guide to idiomatic Irish, but regrettably it seems that it was rushed into print. The idiomatic expressions presented sometimes exhibit pre-Caighdeán spelling or archaic grammar (unnecessary dative forms, for instance). Basically, the problem seems to be that the author took the expressions (or at least some of them) as he found them in primary sources, without checking them in standard dictionaries. So, for an old hand such as me who knows the language well, this book is a great help, but I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it for learners. This is deplorable: with some editing this would be a superb book, now it is only a good one. However, the problem of the book is the problem of much Irish publishing in general: you don’t have access to a whole team of expert editors, you must do the work all by yourself. Noting this, the book is quite a tour de force.

Seán Mac Cionnaith a scríobh. Cnuasach cliséanna Gaeilge atá ann, mar a deir an t-údar. Go bunúsach is iontach cuimsitheach an treoirleabhar é don duine a bhfuil Gaeilge dhúchasach ag teastáil uaidh ach uaireanta feictear duit go ndeachaigh an leabhar i gcló gan an snas deireanach a fháil, Na teilgeanacha cainte sa leabhar, ó am go ham d’aithneofá litriú na ré réamh-Chaighdeánaí orthu, sin nó lorg na seanghramadaí (tuiseal tabharthach mar shampla, áit nach bhfuil gá leis an bhfoirm a thuilleadh). Is é an phríomhfhadhb dar liom ná gur phioc an t-údar na teilgeanacha cainte (cuid acu ar a laghad) leis mar a fuair sé sna bunfhoinsí iad, gan iad a sheiceáil sna foclóirí caighdeánacha. Mar sin is mór an chabhair atá sa leabhar seo dom féin, ós duine de na seanfhondúirí mé, ach ní féidir liom é a mholadh do na foghlaimeoirí gan chuntar. Is mór an trua é, nó dá ndéanfaí tuilleadh eagarthóireachta ar an leabhar, bheadh sé thar barr ar fad – níl sé ach go maith faoi láthair.  Tríd is tríd áfach is é an phríomhfhadhb atá ag an leabhar seo ná fadhb na foilsitheoireachta Gaeilge go ginearálta: níl teacht agat ar fhoireann eagarthóirí seanchleachta agus caithfidh tú iomlán na hoibre a dhéanamh ar do leontaí féin. Le taobshúil air sin, is móréacht é an leabhar seo.

Cora Cainte as Tír Chonaillby Seán Mac Maoláin. This book is another reissued one from the good old days, and the language is pure Donegal Irish, as the title suggests. It is a list of words followed by explanations or usage examples, all in Irish. The reissued version uses a standard spelling which sometimes seems less than well suitable to how the words are pronounced in Donegal. However, the book is a good guide to Ulster Irish for those who only know the Caighdeán.

Ba é Seán Mac Maoláin a chuir an leabhar seo i dtoll le chéile. Atheagrán eile é ar sheanleabhar maith, agus is í Gaeilge Thír Chonaill an chanúint sa leabhar seo, mar is léir ón teideal. Liosta focal é, agus míniúcháin nó samplai úsáide i ngach iontráil, as Gaeilge amháin. An litriú a úsáidtear san atheagrán seo tá sé chomh gar don Chaighdeán is nach bhfuil sé chomh hoiriúnach céanna d’fhuaimniú na canúna. San am chéanna is maith an treoir atá ann dóibh siúd nach bhfuil ach an Caighdeán acu agus iad ag iarraidh ciall a bhaint as canúint Uladh.

I guess you miss Ceart nó Mícheart, by Seán Ó Ruadháin, here. The next blog post is my old review of that very book. (Only in Irish, I am afraid.)

Is dócha go bhfuil sibh ag crothnú Ceart nó Mícheart le Seán Ó Ruadháin anseoSa chéad bhlagmhír eile tá mo sheanléirmheas ar an leabhar áirithe sin.

A quick and very dirty guide to Irish prepositions (now as one page)

“THE USUAL RULES”:

The “usual rules” of initial mutation after the combination of a simple preposition and a following definite article:

  • To start with, note that a plural noun preceded by a simple preposition and a definite article follows the same rules as when it is preceded just by a definite article: i.e. a consonant does not change, but a vowel takes a h-: ar na fir, ag na mná, leis na héanacha (similarly: na fir, na mná, na héanacha)
  • All the difficulties are, thus, in the singular.
  • The basic rule is, that the noun is eclipsed: ar an bhfear, ag an mbean. A vowel is not affected (but the t- before a masculine noun beginning with a vowel is dropped: an t-éan, but leis an éan).
  • However, initial t- and d- are not eclipsed: ag an doras, ag an tine (such forms as ag an ndoras, ag an dtine are Kerry Irish).
  • As an alternative, the Ulster way of leniting the noun instead is allowed in the caighdeán: ag an fhear, ag an bhean.
  • In standard Irish, the initial lenitable s- (s + vowel, sn-, sl-, sr-) behaves in the same way as if there was no preposition, i.e. if the noun is masculine, it is not affected (ar an saol), but if it is feminine, the s- turns into a t-, written ts- (ar an tsráid). However, in Ulster, no difference between genders is observed here (ar an tsaol, ar an tsráid).

AG

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Aigesna rather than ag na in plural is typically Munster Irish.

Personal forms: agam, agat, aige, aici, againn, agaibh, acu.

Before nouns with no article: ag does not affect the first sound in any way.

Main meanings of ag:

  • at (in the concrete locational sense): tá sé ina sheasamh ag an doras “he is standing at the door”
  • chez, in somebody’s home
  • at an occasion
  • in somebody’s possession: tá gluaisteán agam “I have a car/an automobile”

Note: The widespread habit of using le in the sense of “in somebody’s home” is an Anglicism. Due to the fact that English does not have a preposition corresponding to Irish ag, German bei, or Swedish hoswith is used in English. But in Irish, if you are “staying with” somebody, you should use ag for translating “with”.

AR

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: orm, ort, air, uirthi, orainn, oraibh, orthu.

Before nouns with no article: The main rule is, that it lenites. However, when it refers rather to the abstract state than to the concrete position, the lenition is omitted: ar muin chapaill (on horseback) vs. ar mhuin an chapaill áirithe seo (on the back of this particular horse). Note:

ar dhóigh “in a way” vs. ar dóigh “excellent” (But note ar fheabhas “excellent”, which is an exception of the exception). There is, of course (!), even ar ndóigh “of course”. (And speaking of ar + eclipsis, remember also ar gcúl.)

ar shiúl “away, gone” vs. ar siúl “happening, going on”

ar tarraingt “in traction” (when you lie with a broken bone in a hospital)

ar fionraí “suspended”

ar cois “happening, going on”

ar obair “happening, going on, proceeding”

ar dalladh “intensely”

Main meanings of ar:

  • on, upon (in the most concrete sense): ar an urlár “on the floor”
  • for a price: cheannaigh mé ar ocht bpunt é “I bought it for eight pounds”
  • in a relative position: tá sé ar an bhfear is fearr “he is the best man”
  • under the authority of someone: tá Nearó ina Impire ar an Róimh “Nero is the Emperor of Rome”
  • affected by emotion or disease: tá tuirse orm, tá fearg orm, tá slaghdán orm, tá tinneas cinn orm
  • “about” in the sense of “talking about something”. This usage, however, is more connected with particular verbs and phrases than that of faoi. (Compare Irish trácht ar rud and English “to remark upon something”.)
  • “Down upon” referring to aggression and attack is in Irish anuas ar.

AS

Followed by the “dative case” (which is today for the most part equal to the nominative case, i.e. the dictionary form). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: asam, asat, as, aisti, asainn, asaibh, astu.

Before nouns with no article: they are not affected at all. In Kerry, as does lenite, but this is heavily dialectal, and speakers of other dialects might find it out and out wrong. In Cork Irish, at least in Cape Clear, the historically correct form is used instead (as being only the third person masculine singular form) – it does not affect a consonant, but adds a h- to a vowel.

Main meanings of as:

  • out of; from among; from; away from
  • emanating from (smells, for instance)
  • material, medium: rud a ní as uisce; labhairt as Gaeilge
  • in payment for: d’íoc mé deich bpunt as na hearraí “I paid ten pounds for the goods”

CHUIG

Followed by the “dative case” (see above). Before an article + a noun, the usual rules apply.

Personal forms: chugam, chugat, chuige, chuici, chugainn, chugaibh, chucu.

Before nouns without article: they are not affected at all.

Main meanings of chuig: to, towards.

Note: ag is in dialects often used instead of chuig.

CHUN

Followed by the genitive case. The usual genitive rules apply. Note though, that when chun precedes an articleless noun which is followed by a definite genitive, that articleless noun can be declined in genitive too: leas ár dtíre “the interest/greater good of our country”, chun leasa ár dtíre “to the greater good of our country”.

Personal forms; the same as for chuig.

Main meanings:

  • to, towards
  • to a conclusion, to an effect
  • for a purpose

Note the older forms chum, do-chum, which you might encounter in texts printed in Gaelic type and spelled according to the old orthography.

DE

Followed by the dative case (see above). Before an article + a noun, it lenites where applicable, and turns a lenitable s- into a t- (but written ts-). Lenites nouns without an article.

Personal forms: díom, díot, de, di, dínn, díbh, díobh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

  • from, off: rud a bhaint de dhuine “to take a thing away from somebody”, stad sé den obair “he stopped working”
  • attached to, sticking to: cheangail mé an rópa den bhád “I bound, attached, the rope to the boat”; cheangail mé an dá bhád dá chéile le rópa “I tied the two boats to each other with a rope”

Note: non-natives often use le to refer to what something is attached or bound to. This is wrong. In Irish you always use de for this. Le refers to whatever you use for tying them together. Thus, you tie the boats de each other le a rope.

Another note: it is quite common as dialects go to conflate de and do into one preposition, or to use do where you’d expect de. Remember this when you read native texts with Ó Donaill’s dictionary.

Desna rather than de na in plural is Munster Irish.

DO

Initial mutations as after de.

Personal forms: dom, duit, dó, di, dúinn, daoibh, dóibh. The initial d- is often lenited (dh-).

Main meanings:

  • To, i.e. when giving something to someone: tabhair dom an bréagán sin “give me that toy”.
  • To a place (although for this I’d mostly prefer go dtí)
  • For (intended for someones use; to the benefit of; etc.)
  • In certain verbal noun constructions, it refers to the agent of the verbal noun: i ndiaidh dom teacht abhaile/ar theacht abhaile dom “when I had come home”

Dosna rather than do na is Munster Irish.

FAOI

Lenites a noun that follows it directly. The usual rules apply to the combination of preposition + article.

Personal forms: fúm, fút, faoi, fúithi, fúinn, fúibh, fúthu.

Main meanings:

  • Under, beneath.
  • About, around; also “about” in the sense of talking about something.

An Ulster acquaintance of mine suggested that there was a division of meaning between fá “about” and faoi “under, beneath” in Ulster dialect. This is possible, but my impression is that the choice of faoi, fá, fé, fó in older texts mostly depends of the phonetic environment, i.e. the vowels of the surrounding nouns (this would account for the form fó in the expression an Tír fó Thoinn “the land beneath the wave”, a mythological underwater otherworld; the expression has also, probably facetiously, been used for the Netherlands).

Fé is a common spelling variant in Munster. Fésna instead of faoi na is Munster dialect.

I

Eclipses a noun that follows it directly (i dteach). Becomes in before a vowel. In the standard language, the combination i + an (ins an, now commonly written sa, san) lenites; in Connemara, though, it is assimilated to the “usual rules” (sa mbád rather than sa bhád). In plural, i + na becomes ins na (now commonly written sna).

Sa in plural is Munster dialect.

Personal forms: ionam, ionat, ann, inti, ionainn, ionaibh, iontu.

Main meanings:

  • In, inside: sa teach
  • In a position: i gceannas ar na saighdiúirí
  • Innate capacities: tá comhábhair an cheoltóra mhaith ann 
  • Role: tá mé i mo mhúinteoir
  • Accusation, guilt: tá sé á chúiseamh i ndúnmharú; fuarthas ciontach i ndúnmharú é

LE

According to the standard language, it should affix a h- to a following vowel. Combines with the article to yield leis an in singular, leis na in plural. Leis an follows the usual rules.

Personal forms: liom, leat, leis, léi, linn, libh, leo.

Main meanings:

  • with
  • towards, facing
  • often used with verbs of interaction, transaction: labhair sé liom “he spoke with/to me”; dhíol sé a sheancharr liom “he sold his old car to me”
  • with is it refers to ownership: is liom an carr úd “that car over there is mine”. Note the difference: tá carr agam “I have a car”, but is liom an carr “the car belongs to me”.

Ó

The usual rules apply when followed by an article. When it precedes an articleless noun, it lenites. Ósna in plural is Munster dialect: ó na is standard.

Personal forms: uaim, uait, uaidh, uaithi, uainn, uaibh, uathu.

Main meanings:

  • from (from a place, from a person, from a limit, from a root cause, away from someone)
  • since (a point of time)

 

TRÍ

Becomes tríd before an. (Oops! All these years I have happily written it as tríd even before plural na!) It tends to be permanently lenited (thrí) and you do see the form tríd even before a noun without an article (this is dialectal though).

It’s the usual rules before an article. Before a noun without an article, trí lenites.

Personal forms: tríom, tríot, tríd, tríthi, trínn, tríobh, triothu.

Main meanings of trí:

  • through: tríd an bhfuinneog, tríd an doras
  • by doing something, by using something, by doing something in a way: rinne sé an t-aireagán trí mhiontaighde “he made the invention by minutious research”
  • through the medium of: ag múineadh trí Ghaeilge

UM

This preposition is only ever used in Cork Irish (well, probably sometimes in Kerry before names of holidays) and in legalese. I confess I have no exact idea what it means, but it follows the usual rules when  it comes before an article. Before a naked noun, it lenites, with the exception of labial consonants (b, m, p). For main meanings, consult the online Ó Donaill dictionary. – OK, fine, I am pulling your leg. It usually means “about, around”, and it is often used with temporal nouns: um an dtaca so (yes, it is definitely a Munster preposition, so um an eclipses the t’s and the d’s!), um an gCáisc, um an Nollaig. In legalese, it refers to what a law or an act is about: an tAcht um Theascadh na mBod Rófhada “the Too Long Penises Amputating Act”.

It has the personal forms umam, umat, uime, uimpi, umainn, umaibh, umpu. However, one of my readers pointed out on Twitter that she had never seen these forms before. They are hardly ever used anywhere else than in the native literature of Co. Cork; a book where you could expect to see them is Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair’s Scéal mo Bheatha.

ROIMH

Lenites naked nouns, but follows the usual rules with articles. The form roimis an… rather than roimh an… is Munster Irish.

Personal forms: romham, romhat, roimhe, roimpi, romhainn, romhaibh, rompu.

Main meanings:

  • before (in a temporal sense): roimh an Nollaig, roimh an gCáisc
  • before (in an order of preference, arrival, prestige etc.), ahead of: tháinig siad abhaile romhainn
  • waiting for someone: nuair a thuirling an t-eitleán i mBaile Átha Cliath, bhí cuid mhór de lucht ár leanúna ansin romhainn

THAR

Lenites naked nouns, except in sayings of a general meaning (thar barr, thar muir, thar bord, thar claí, thar smacht, thar sáile); the usual rules apply before a definite article.

Personal forms: tharam, tharat, thairis, thairsti, tharainn, tharaibh, tharstu.

Main meanings:

  • over, across, to the other side of something: chuaigh Seán thar sáile agus bhunaigh sé gnó ríomhaireachta i San Francisco
  • over, above: chuaigh an t-uisce thar an gcloigeann air agus bádh é
  • going or getting by or past something: chuaigh siad tharainn agus an choiscéim ghasta sin fúthu
  • beyond: chuaigh na páistí thar smacht ar an múinteoir bocht
  • in preference to: roghnaigh mé an ceann maith thar an drochcheann

IDIR

I have always had this idea that when it means “between”, it does not lenite the following noun, while when it means “among”, it does. However, Ó Donaill tells us that it basically lenites, with the exception of certain phrases. Whatever. It does not affect a noun preceded by article, so no “usual rules” there.

Eadar is a common variant spelling, typical of Ulster writers.

It has personal forms only in plural: eadrainn, eadraibh, eatarthu. These are only used alone. If idir is followed by two pronouns, those are kept: idir sinn agus iad, idir sibh agus sinn, and so on. There is one book – An Fhiannuidheacht by Cormac Ó Cadhlaigh – where you see stuff like eadrainn agus iad rather than idir sinn agus iad. The book is otherwise written in a rather commonplace Munster Irish for the most part, so I don’t know whether this is an archaism or a hypercorrection.

Main meanings:

  • between
  • both (…and)

A quick and very dirty guide to Irish prepositions (part two)

TRÍ

Becomes tríd before an. (Oops! All these years I have happily written it as tríd even before plural na!) It tends to be permanently lenited (thrí) and you do see the form tríd even before a noun without an article (this is dialectal though).

It’s the usual rules before an article. Before a noun without an article, trí lenites.

Personal forms: tríom, tríot, tríd, tríthi, trínn, tríobh, triothu.

Main meanings of trí:

  • through: tríd an bhfuinneog, tríd an doras
  • by doing something, by using something, by doing something in a way: rinne sé an t-aireagán trí mhiontaighde “he made the invention by minutious research”
  • through the medium of: ag múineadh trí Ghaeilge

 

UM

This preposition is only ever used in Cork Irish (well, probably sometimes in Kerry before names of holidays) and in legalese. I confess I have no exact idea what it means, but it follows the usual rules when  it comes before an article. Before a naked noun, it lenites, with the exception of labial consonants (b, m, p). For main meanings, consult the online Ó Donaill dictionary. – OK, fine, I am pulling your leg. It usually means “about, around”, and it is often used with temporal nouns: um an dtaca so (yes, it is definitely a Munster preposition, so um an eclipses the t’s and the d’s!), um an gCáisc, um an Nollaig. In legalese, it refers to what a law or an act is about: an tAcht um Theascadh na mBod Rófhada “the Too Long Penises Amputating Act”.

It has the personal forms umam, umat, uime, uimpi, umainn, umaibh, umpu. However, one of my readers pointed out on Twitter that she had never seen these forms before. They are hardly ever used anywhere else than in the native literature of Co. Cork; a book where you could expect to see them is Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair’s Scéal mo Bheatha.

ROIMH

Lenites naked nouns, but follows the usual rules with articles. The form roimis an… rather than roimh an… is Munster Irish.

Personal forms: romham, romhat, roimhe, roimpi, romhainn, romhaibh, rompu.

Main meanings:

  • before (in a temporal sense): roimh an Nollaig, roimh an gCáisc
  • before (in an order of preference, arrival, prestige etc.), ahead of: tháinig siad abhaile romhainn
  • waiting for someone: nuair a thuirling an t-eitleán i mBaile Átha Cliath, bhí cuid mhór de lucht ár leanúna ansin romhainn

THAR

Lenites naked nouns, except in sayings of a general meaning (thar barr, thar muir, thar bord, thar claí, thar smacht, thar sáile); the usual rules apply before a definite article.

Personal forms: tharam, tharat, thairis, thairsti, tharainn, tharaibh, tharstu.

Main meanings:

  • over, across, to the other side of something: chuaigh Seán thar sáile agus bhunaigh sé gnó ríomhaireachta i San Francisco
  • over, above: chuaigh an t-uisce thar an gcloigeann air agus bádh é
  • going or getting by or past something: chuaigh siad tharainn agus an choiscéim ghasta sin fúthu
  • beyond: chuaigh na páistí thar smacht ar an múinteoir bocht
  • in preference to: roghnaigh mé an ceann maith thar an drochcheann

 

IDIR

I have always had this idea that when it means “between”, it does not lenite the following noun, while when it means “among”, it does. However, Ó Donaill tells us that it basically lenites, with the exception of certain phrases. Whatever. It does not affect a noun preceded by article, so no “usual rules” there.

Eadar is a common variant spelling, typical of Ulster writers.

It has personal forms only in plural: eadrainn, eadraibh, eatarthu. These are only used alone. If idir is followed by two pronouns, those are kept: idir sinn agus iad, idir sibh agus sinn, and so on. There is one book – An Fhiannuidheacht by Cormac Ó Cadhlaigh – where you see stuff like eadrainn agus iad rather than idir sinn agus iad. The book is otherwise written in a rather commonplace Munster Irish for the most part, so I don’t know whether this is an archaism or a hypercorrection.

Main meanings:

  • between
  • both (…and)