Before we get started on this months topic focusing on family, an teaghlach, on behalf of all of us that have been involved in the Speak Irish Cleveland classes, I’d like to express our gratitude to everyone at PJ McIntyre’s. Pat And Doug and all the servers and staff who have gone out of their way to accommodate us these past nine years. McIntyre’s has become home for us and part of our family. Go raibh míle maith agaibh!
As we get to know someone better, we often discuss our families and marital status, how many children or grandchildren we have or brothers and sisters. One thing that came up in a recent class was about answering questions. In the past we’ve talked about the lack of a universal word to express yes or no in Irish.
When responding to a question, the correct way is to use the positive or negative version of the verb used in posing the question. HOWEVER! In actual conversation, sometimes the word sea (shah) will be used for yes and ní hea (nee-ha) for no for a simple response.
In our examples, I will use the correct verb to respond, but you do have that option.
AN TEAGHLACH (ahn tye-lohk) the family
tuismitheoir (toosh-ma-hor) parent fear céile (far kay-lee) husband
tuismitheoirí (toosh-ma-hor-ee) parents bean chéile (ban kay-lee) wife
athair (ah-her) father uncail (un-kel) uncle
aithreacha (ah-rahk-ah) fathers uncailí (un-kel-ee) uncles
máthair (ma-her) mother aintín (ahn-teen) aunt
máithreacha (mah-rahk-ah) mothers aintíní (ahn-teen-ee) aunts
páiste (paw-stchuh) child nia (nee-uh) nephew
páistí (paw-stchee) children nianna (nee-uh-na) nephews
leanbh (lah-niv) baby neacht (nohkt) niece
leanaí (lah-nee) babies neachtanna (nohkt-ah-na) nieces
mac (mack) son seanathair (shan ah-her) grandfather
mic (mick) sons seanmháither (shan-ma-her) grandmother
iníon (in-yeen) daughter garmhac (gar-vahk) grandson
iníonacha (in-yeen-ah-ka) daughters garmhic (gar-vick) grandsons
deartháir (dreh-har) brother gariníon (gar-in-yeen) granddaughter
deartháireacha (dreh-har-uh-kuh) brothers gariníonacha (gar-i-yeen-uh-kuh)
deirfiúr (drih-foor) sister buachaill (boo-uh-kill) boy
deirfiúracha (drih-foor-uh-kuh) sisters buachaillí (boo-uh-kuh-lee) boys
cailín (kall-yeen) girl cailíni (kall-yeen-ee) girls
Asking and Answering Questions in Irish
An bhfuil tú pósta? (ahn will too poe-sta) Are you married?
An bhfuil tú fein pósta? (ahn will too fayne poe-sta) Are you married yourself?
An bhfuil tusa pósta? (ahn will tuh-suh poe-sta) Are you married? (using the emphatic pronoun for you)
Tá/níl (taw/neel) yes/no
Tá me pósta. (taw may poe-sta) I’m married.
Níl mé pósta. (neel may poe-sta)
Tá mé singil. (taw may shing-el) I’m single.
Tá mé scartha. (taw may skar-huh) I’m seperated.
Tá me colscartha. (taw may kohl-skar-huh) I’m divorced.
Is baintreach mé. (iss byne-truhk may) I’m a widow/widower.
An bhfuil páistí agat? (ahn will paw-schtee ah-gut) Do you have children?
An bhfuil páistí agatsa? (ahn will paw-schtee ah-gut-sa) Do you have children?
An bhfuil páistí agaibh? (ahn will paw-schtee ah-giv) Do y’all have children?
Questions in Irish Concerning Children
In the above questions concening children, we are asking if there are children at you. The second question uses the emphatic form of agat (at you) and the third uses the plural form for asking more than one person. The asking verb is still a form of tá, an bhfuill, so tá and níl are acceptable as a response.
Níl páistí ar bith agam. (neel paw-schtee ar bih ah-gum) I have no children. There are no children at me.
Níl páistí ar bith againn. (neel paw-schtee ar bih ah-gihn) We have no children.
Tá, tá beirt agam, mac agus iníon. (taw,taw byurt ah-gum, mack ah-gus in-yeen) Yes, I have two, a son and daughter.
Cén aois atá siad? (kayne eesh ah-taw shee-ud) What ages are they?
Tá Siobhán seacht mbliana agus Seán deich. (taw shih-von shohkt mleena ah-gus shawn jeh) Siobhán is seven years and Sean is ten.
In the above examples two counting systems were used, one for counting people and the other for counting things, years. See the January issue of iIrish for more on counting. We can also change the pronoun at the end of the question to be more specific. Cén aois atá sé? What age is he? Or, cénaois atá sí? What age is she?
Cé mhéad deartháir atá agat? (kah vayd dreh-har ah-taw ah-gut) How many brothers do you have?
Duine amháin (din-uh uh-woyn) One (lit. one person)
Cé mhéad deirfiúr atá agat? (kah vayd drih-foor ah-taw ah-gut) how many sisters do you have?
Triúr (troo-ihr) Three (lit.three people)
The Irish for my is mo and the word for your is do. It will cause a softening on nouns beginning with a consonant that follow them.
Deartháir (brother) mo dheartháir (moe yer-har) my brother
Deirfiúr (sister) do dheirfiúr (doe yer-foor) my sister
Máithair (mother) mo mháithair (moe wah-her) my mother
Mo and do are shortened when they are followed by a noun beginning with a vowel.
Athair (father) m’athair (muh ah-her) my father
Aintín (aunt) d’aintín (dahn-teen) your aunt
Seo iad mo thuismitheoirí. (sho ee-ud moe hoosh-muh-hor-ee) These are my parents.
Seo í mo dheirfiúr. (sho ee moe yer-foor) This is my sister.
Seo é mo dheartháir. (sho ay moe yer-har) This is my brother.
To get practice with the language, we will sometimes enact different situations in our Speak Irish Cleveland classes. This allows us to use what we have learned and customize what we know to use appropriately. You can try this easily by changing the vocabulary to talk about your own family.
SLÁN GO FÓILL!
*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday at PJ McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhound and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hounds Rían and Aisling and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be reached at email@example.com.