the vocative of "pobal"

An undated letter from PUL to Gearóid Ó Nualláin, quoted in the latter’s autobiography, Beatha Dhuine a Thoil [spelling modernised by me]:

Caisleán Ua Liatháin, i gCo. Chorcaí.

A Athair Gearóid, a chara,

Is dócha go bhfuarais na nótaí úd. Ní dócha go raibh aon bhaol dul amú orthu, mar do chuireas fé chúntas (registered) iad. Do léas an tseanmóin úd a thugais uait Lá Fhéile Pádraig. Chuir duine chúm í ó Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus chuir duine eile chúm í ó Chorcaigh. Do thaithn sí liom go hana-mhór. Is í blúire Gaelainne í is feárr dá bhfeaca fós ó éinne dár scrí’neóiríbh beó.

Tá aon fhocal amháin inti, áfach, agus ní mór dom focal do rá ’na thaobh. ’Sé focal é ná ‘A Phobail,’ in vocativo. Níor airíos riamh a béal sagairt é, ach aon uair amháin. ’Sé uair é sin, ná nuair a bhíos ag dul fé láimh Easpaig. Bhíos tímpall dhá bhliain déag d’aois an uair sin. Bhí sagart ag tabhairt seanmóna uaidh i láthair an Easpaig. Bhíos ag éisteacht leis. ‘A Phobail,’ ar seisean, nuair a bhí sé ag tosnú. ‘A Phobail’ adeireadh sé i gcaitheamh na seanmóna nuair a labhradh sé linn. Bhí iúnadh orm féin cad ’na thaobh do ‘A Phobail’ do rá, nú cad ’na thaobh ná deireadh sé ‘A Phobal,’ mar adeireadh na sagairt go raibh aithne agam orthu. Thuigeas im aigne, áfach, agus me ag éisteacht leis, gurbh é cúis do ‘A Phobail,’ a rá, ná trí pobail do bheith ann, pobal Chluandrochad agus pobal Charraig an Ime, agus pobal Bhaile Mhúirne. Thuigeas gurbh ionann ‘A Phobail’ as a bhéal agus ‘Ye Congregations.’ Bhí m’aigne sásta leis sin. Ní raibh aon eólas agam an uair sin ar ‘vocative’ ná ar ‘nominative’ ach bhí ’ fhios agam nárbh fhéidir ‘A Phobail’ a rá, muna mbeadh na pobail a bheith ann. Níorbh fhéidir ‘A Phobail’ a rá le haon phobal amháin, ach oiread agus dob fhéidir a rá mar seo, féach: —

“Cad ’tá ag an bpobal á dhéanamh?” “Tá sé ar a ghlúinibh!” “Táid siad ar a nglúinibh,” an freagra ceart. “Cad ’tá ag an bpobal á dhéanamh anois?” “Tá sé ’na sheasamh!” “Táid said ’na seasamh,” an freagra ceart. Nuair a thosnaíos ar Ghaelainn a lé’ a leabhraibh, do thuigeas go maith cad é an chúis don tsagart úd “A Phobail” do rá linn. Chonaic sé sa leabhar é, agus ní raibh neart aigne a dhóthain aige chun a rá leis an leabhar dul in ainm an Diabhail!

You can’t use a vocative singular for pobal (unless you wish to have all the old speakers I ever knew shaking their heads at it) any more than you can say ‘tú’ to a congregation. If you could say ‘A Phobail’ why could you not say—‘An bhfuil tú ag éisteacht liom, a Phobail?’ . . . . .

’Sea! Tá an méid sin ráite agam anois, agus tá m’aigne sásta, agus tá súil agam go bhfuilirse go leathan láidir, agus gura fada amhlaidh duit!

Mise, do chara,

Peadar Ua Laoghaire.

Note that Clondrohid appears here as pobal Chluandrochad, and Cluandrochad is also the form found in PUL’s Mo Sgéal Féin. It is normally found as Cluain Droichead, but it is possible PUL had a broad n in this word; as a native of Clondrohid he would have known the pronunciation well. Also note that the vocative plural is in theory formed by dropping -ibh from the dative plural, and so the vocative plural should be a phobla! But real examples of use will be rare, and it may be the PUL could only interpret a phobail as a vocative plural due to the fact that the vocative singular is a phobal.

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About dj1969

at the conservative end of the libertarian spectrum
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One Response to the vocative of "pobal"

  1. Lillis says:

    Tá mo dhaoine féinig adhlactha i gCluandrochad go deimhin. Is dóigh liom gurb í an fhoirm ainmneach a chuala i dTír Chonaill ag an tsagart leis.

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