PUL’s comments on questions for readers of Sliabh na mBan bhFionn

PUL’s comments on questions on Sliabh na mBan bhFionn included in the booklet Ag Séideadh agus ag Ithe (see here).

S. n. mB. bhF. I.

21. Nách olc uathu bheith ag déanamh díobhála…?

Olc an triail acu is good Irish but is means “It was a bad trial of them”, i.e. they failed badly in something when they were expected to succeed. Is olc uait é means “something better was expected from you”. Orthu is out of place in either.

24. An mbeiridís? is the form.

30. Say mbeirtí…?

35. An mbeadh is good Irish but is is very hard to explain it. An mbíodh is good also, and quite simple. You see how it harmonises with an mbídís just after. And then beautifully go bhfaighidh has both the difficult sense and the easy sense.


10. Put a between tighín and dhéanamh.

25. Say Cad a bhí na hinead? The questioner is not supposed to know what the thing was.


2. Say Cad é an sliabh é? I have never heard sliabh fem. “The top of the mountain” has been always, for me, bárr an tsléibhe pronounced “Bár an tslay”.

15. Better say snáth; snáithín is one “needle-full” of thread.

18. Here is the order. Agus na daoine go mba leó iad cad a dheinidís leó. Your order is good grammar of course, but I never heard the words put in that order. What fascinated old people in my Irish is that they hear the exact thing which is inside in their minds. They never before heard it out of Irish books and when they hear it now it gives them, as it were, an electric shock of delight.

19. Say ag triall ar an bhfíodóir iad. Curiously enough, speakers say in English “… they sent them to the weaver” “to the tailor”, as if they were speaking not of a man, but of that definite trader.

24. Say ana-bhruidiúil = hard at work. Gnóthach is attentive to business. It does not mean any pressure of work. Still gnóthach may mean the sense of bruidiúil in other places.


Gram. 2. A nín ó, or a ghnín ó.

Ceist 34. Agus cad eile cad dúradar? is what I have always heard in all questions of that sort. “What else is it?” is in Irish always “What else what is it?” Cad eile cad é an ní é?

IV continued

What else did he do? = Cad eile cad a dhein sé? “What else could I do?” = Cad eile cad fhéadfainn a dhéanamh? There is, you see, a sort of double interrogative. In fact, the English which the people use in that last question is “What else what could I do?” i.e. “What could I do? and in what is (the thing you would say) different from this?” It’s an Irish mode of thought quite different from any English mode of thought.

An intervening word might spoil the double character of the question e.g. Cad é an focal eile adúradar? No second cad ever came in there.


Gram. 4. It should be tabhair a bhunchéim. The English “of” when it signifies the genitive case is never de. “Half of it” = a leath. “The middle of it” = a lár. “The end of it” = a dheireadh. “The beginning of it” = a thosach. “Some of it” = cuid de. But the “of” there is not really a genitive. The true idea is “from” or “off” or “out of”. I suppose it could be called a “partitive genitive”.

S. mB. bhF. VI.

5. cheap sí a bheadh sa tigh? Cheap sí go mbeadh sé sa tigh is all right there, but it can’t stand in this question. Those two forms running alongside of each other through the whole language. A for the question, go for the statement.

10. A is always said when the two d’s, do deineadh would be, as it were, knocking against each other harshly.

12. Say cad é an treó é?

18. Say chun a cuímhne. It is simply “memory”, not the act of “memorising”.

22. Omit the . The sentence is not the sort in which is used. If the sentence ran thus you would have . Nuair ná raibh ann ach an mórsheisear is é rud aduairt sí ná gur mhná breátha iad go léir.

29. ná raibh neart inti chun labhartha is better.


3. Say snáth. Snáithín is one “needle-full” of thread. Instead of di say den ollann. No! Leis an ollann is in the sentence already and the repetition would be ugly.

Sliabh na mBan bhFionn – VII.

3. Instead of léi say leis an ollann. The usage is to repeat the noun rather than use a pronoun, that is, as a general rule. E.g. If there were only cad a dheineadh sé léi? the listener would find no fault.

8. Say geall le bheith críochnaithe.

9. Conas a dheineadar an obair or conas a bhí an obair acu á dhéanamh. Ag oibriú is not used for “working”, except in the case of a physic.

A dhá láimh is the true Irish. “His two eyes” = a dhá shúil. “Her two eyes” = a dhá súil. “His two fists” = a dhá dhorn. “Her two fists” = a dhá dorn. “His two feet” = a dhá chois. “Her two feet” = a dhá cois. Long ago, 70 years ago, I heard an old Irish song, about a mother caressing her child. Here is one line of it:—

Agus í dhá luascadh dir a dhá cí = And she was swaying him between her two breasts. Is it not too bad that people will not accept the truth from me! Still I have never invented anything!


3. Ar fhreagair? No final t.

5. Cómhar is masculine.

8. … sé é? The questioner is not supposed to know that the answer regarded a woman. A beautiful way out of the difficulty would be to use the autonomous … go ndúradh é?

16. I don’t like grástúil here. I would prefer cneasta or síbhialta.

28. I prefer dá ndeineadh or b’fhéidir go bhféadfadh sí teacht suas leis ach a díthol (dícheall) a dhéanamh. Don’t need díthol. It is only phonetic.

34. It’s all right, but I don’t know why you put maith between the marks?


3. … agus í ag áirneán would be better.

8. Cad é an rud é? would be better. Cad é féin is often used as Irish of “what is that you say?”

36. Comáin leat is what is said in that sense.

Comáin is said in steering a horse. Comáin leat – “go on”, “proceed”.


11. This is not usual. What any storyteller would say there is Mar sin dóibh siar go deireadh. Then if he wanted to ask whether that was so he would say an mar sin dóibh siar go deireadh? = “Is that how they went on to the end? As regards time, What then happened is true now.


áirneán: “sitting up late at night”. Also a verbal noun meaning “to work late at night”. Pronounced /ɑ:r’nʹɑ:n/.
bunchéim: “the positive degree of an adjective”, as opposed to the comparative degree.
cíoch: “breast”. The dative (and dual) would classically be cích, but PUL seems to just have . See also An Dá Chí, “the Paps”, a mountain in Co. Kerry referred to in Mo Sgéal Féin.
dorn: “fist”, pronounced /dorən/.
nách: nach in GCh.
siar go deireadh: “through to the end, down to the last person” (see siar síos in PSD).


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