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Old Irish Online

Lesson 3

Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel, Caren Esser, and Jonathan Slocum

After relating the beginning of the encounter between Cú Chulainn and the still-unnamed Morrígan (see Lesson 2), the text goes on to describe how the hero gets angry with the war-goddess and her companion because whenever he addresses the man the woman answers, and vice versa. Upset by their mockery, Cú Chulainn jumps onto the chariot and threatens the woman with his sword. She tells him that she is a lampooner and got the cow as a reward for a poem. Upon the hero's demand to hear the poem, she chants of how he will be slain during the Táin.

Reading and Textual Analysis

This selection continues the conversation, during which Cú Chulainn realizes the true identity of the woman. The passage includes a dindshenchas, that is, the story of how a place got its name. We hear how the bog formerly known as Grellach Culgairi 'Bog of the Chariot-Rumble' -- the name it still bears in the text of the previous lesson -- comes to be named Grellach Dolluid 'Bog of the Pernicious One'. Though Grellach Dolluid is often identified with Girley, a village south of Kells, it is most likely located in the north of County Louth; this identification is supported by the fact that Cú Chulainn, departing from Dún Imrid in Mag Muirthemne, which is the original name of the plain south of Dundalk in Louth, heads off in north-western direction, towards Áth da Ḟerta -- not towards the south-west where Kells would be. Other identifiable place names in this passage are that of Cúailnge 'Cooley', a mountainous landscape in the north of County Louth and home of the Brown Bull who fathered the calf, which was to be the cause of the cattle-raid of Cúailnge, as well as Crúachu, later Crúachain -- Rathcroghan -- in County Roscommon, seat of the kings of Connacht.

Foceird Cú Chulainn beḋg inaL charpat feissin íaruṁ.

  • foceird -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active, deuterotonic, of <fo°ceird> sets, puts; throws -- ...
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn
  • beḋg -- noun; accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <bedg> start, leap -- leaps
  • inaL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + suffixed possessive pronoun 3rd person singular masculine <aL> his, its -- onto his
  • charpat -- noun; lenited accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <carpat> war-chariot, wagon -- chariot
  • feissin -- pronominal; 3rd person singular masculine of <féin, feissin> -self, own -- own
  • íaruṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <íarN, íarmL-> after -- after this

Naicc ní iN nneoch íaruṁ inN mnaí nach inN garpat nach inN nech nach inN fer nach inN mboin, ocus coNnaccaesiuṁ íaruṁ: baH hénsi duḃ forsinL chroíḃ inaL ḟarraḋ.

  • naicc -- negative particle; <naicc> no, not -- ...
  • -- indefinite pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <> something, anything -- nothing
  • iN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- ...
  • nneoch -- indefinite pronoun; nasalized dative singular neuter of <> something, anything -- anywhere
  • íaruṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <íarN, íarmL-> after -- after this
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- with regard to
  • mnaí -- noun; nasalized accusative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ben> woman, wife -- the woman
  • nach -- negative particle; compound form of negative <nad> not + 3rd person singular present indicative, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- nor
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- with regard to
  • garpat -- noun; nasalized accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <carpat> war-chariot, wagon -- the chariot
  • nach -- negative particle; compound form of negative <nad> not + 3rd person singular present indicative, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- nor
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- with regard to
  • nech -- noun; nasalized accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <ech> horse -- the horse
  • nach -- negative particle; compound form of negative <nad> not + 3rd person singular present indicative, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- nor
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- with regard to
  • fer -- noun; accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <fer> man -- the man
  • nach -- negative particle; compound form of negative <nad> not + 3rd person singular present indicative, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- nor
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- with regard to
  • mboin -- noun; nasalized accusative singular feminine, irregular, of <> cow, ox -- the cow
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • coNnaccaesiuṁ -- verb; compound form of 3rd person singular preterite indicative active, deuterotonic, of <ad°cí, at°chí> sees + emphasizing particle 3rd person singular masculine <seom, som> he, it -- he saw it
  • íaruṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <íarN, íarmL-> after -- then
  • baH -- verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- was
  • hénsi -- noun; compound form of aspirated nominative singular masculine, o-stem, of <én> bird + emphasizing particle 3rd person singular feminine <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- she... a... bird
  • duḃ -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <dub> black -- black
  • forsinL -- preposition; preposition <for> on, over + dative singular feminine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- on the
  • chroíḃ -- noun; lenited dative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <cróeb, cráeb> branch; tree, bush -- branch
  • inaL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + suffixed possessive pronoun 3rd person singular masculine <aL> his, its -- him
  • ḟarraḋ -- adverb; lenited; <farrad> beside, along with -- near

"DoltachL ḃen atatLchoṁnaic," ol Cú Chulainn.

  • doltachL -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <doltach> pernicious, hurtful -- pernicious
  • ḃen -- noun; lenited nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ben> woman, wife -- a... woman
  • atatLchoṁnaic -- verb; compound form of 2nd person singular preterite indicative, deuterotonic, syntactically relative of <ad°cumaing> strikes, cuts; happens, chances + infixed pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you -- that it what you happen to be
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn

"Is Dolluḋ dono bias forsinL ġrellaiġ se coH bráth," ol inL ḃen.

  • is -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- it is
  • Dolluḋ -- toponym; nominative singular, o-stem, of <Dollud> distress, damage, havoc -- Dollud
  • dono -- emphatic particle; <dano, dono> again, now, then -- then
  • bias -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, absolute, relative, of substantive verb <attá> is -- that... will be
  • forsinL -- preposition; preposition <for> on, over + dative singular feminine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- ...
  • ġrellaiġ -- noun; lenited dative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <grellach> bog, mire -- bog
  • se -- demonstrative pronoun; <se> this, these -- this
  • coH -- preposition; <coH> to, until -- until
  • bráth -- noun; accusative singular masculine, u-stem, of <bráth> Doomsday -- Doomsday
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • inL -- article; nominative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • ḃen -- noun; lenited nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ben> woman, wife -- woman

Grellach Dolluiḋ íaruṁ aH hainm óL ṡin ille.

  • Grellach Dolluiḋ -- toponym; nominative singular of <Grellach Dolluid> Bog of Distress -- Grellach Dolluid
  • íaruṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <íarN, íarmL-> after -- after this
  • aH -- possessive pronoun; 3rd person singular feminine <aH> her -- its
  • hainm -- noun; aspirated nominative singular neuter, n-stem, of <ainm> name -- name
  • óL -- preposition; <óL, úaL> from, by -- from... on
  • ṡin -- anaphoric demonstrative pronoun; lenited; <sin> this, that, those, the aforementioned -- that
  • ille -- adverb; <illei, ille> hither; since; moreover -- time

"Acht rofeisind beḋ tú ní saṁlaiḋ noscarfamais," ol Cú Chulainn.

  • acht -- conjunction; <acht> if only, provided that -- if only
  • rofeisind -- verb; variant of 1st person singular preterite subjunctive active, deuterotonic, of <ro°fitir> knows -- I had known
  • beḋ -- verb; 3rd person singular preterite subjunctive, absolute, relative, of copula <is> is -- that it were
  • -- personal pronoun; 2nd person singular <> you -- you
  • -- independent negative particle; <ní, ni> not -- not
  • saṁlaiḋ -- adverb; <samlaid, amlaid> thus, so, in this way -- like this
  • noscarfamais -- verb; 1st person plural secondary future indicative active, conjunct, syntactically relative, of <scaraid> separates, parts -- we would... have parted
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn

"Ciḋ dorrignis," olsí, "bieith olc de."

  • ciḋ -- conjunction; compound form of conjunction <cía> although, even if + suffixed enclitic present subjunctive of copula <is> is -- whatever
  • dorrignis -- verb; 2nd person singular perfect indicative active, deuterotonic, syntactically relative, of <do°gní> does; makes -- you would have done
  • olsí -- indeclinable; compound form of indeclinable <ol> says, said + personal pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- said she
  • bieith -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, absolute, of substantive verb <attá> is -- will result
  • olc -- noun; nominative singular neuter, o-stem, of <olc> evil, wrong; misfortune -- misfortune
  • de -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <diL, deL> from, of -- from it

"Ni cuṁgai olc daṁ," ol Cú Chulainn.

  • ni -- independent negative particle; <ní, ni> not -- not
  • cuṁgai -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative, prototonic, of <con°icc> can, is able -- you can
  • olc -- noun; accusative singular neuter, o-stem, of <olc> evil, wrong; misfortune -- misfortune
  • daṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 1st person singular dative of <duL, doL> to -- to me
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn

"Cuṁgaiṁ écin," ol inL ḃen.

  • cuṁgaiṁ -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative, prototonic, of <con°icc> can, is able -- I can
  • écin -- adverb; dative singular feminine, ā-stem, of noun <écen> necessity, compulsion -- indeed
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • inL -- article; nominative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • ḃen -- noun; lenited nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ben> woman, wife -- woman

"Is oc dídin doL ḃáissiu atáusa ocus bia," olsí.

  • is -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- is
  • oc -- preposition; <oc> at, with, by -- at
  • dídin -- noun; dative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <díden> end -- the final touch(es)
  • doL -- preposition; <duL, doL> to -- to
  • ḃáissiu -- noun; compound form of lenited genitive singular neuter, o-stem, of <bás> death + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- your death
  • atáusa -- verb; compound form of 1st person singular present indicative, deuterotonic, syntactically relative, of substantive verb <attá> is + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- what I am
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • bia -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, syntactically relative, of substantive verb <attá> is -- what I will be
  • olsí -- indeclinable; compound form of indeclinable <ol> says, said + personal pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- said she

"Doucussa inN mboin se éim," olsí, "aH síḋ Crúachan conda rodart in Donn Cúailngi leṁ .i. tarḃ Dáiri maic Ḟiachnai ocus is ed aret biasu iN mbethu coN raḃ dartaiḋ in lóeg fil inaH broinn inaH bó so ocus is é consaíḋfea Táin Bó Cúailngi."

  • doucussa -- verb; compound form of 1st person singular perfect indicative active, deuterotonic, of <do°beir> brings -- I have brought
  • inN -- article; accusative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- ...
  • mboin -- noun; nasalized accusative singular feminine, irregular, of <> cow, ox -- cow
  • se -- demonstrative pronoun; <se> this, these -- this
  • éim -- emphatic particle; <ém, éim> truly, indeed, then -- ...
  • olsí -- indeclinable; compound form of indeclinable <ol> says, said + personal pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- said she
  • aH -- preposition; <essH, asH, aH> out of, from -- from
  • síḋ -- noun; dative singular neuter, s-stem, of <síd> fairy fort -- the fairy fort
  • Crúachan -- toponym; genitive singular of <Crúachu, Crúachain> Cruachain -- of Rathcroghan
  • conda -- conjunction; compound form of conjunction <con, coN> until; so that; and + infixed pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <daH> she -- and... her
  • rodart -- verb; 3rd person singular perfect indicative active, conjunct, of <dairid> bulls -- has mounted
  • in -- article; nominative singular masculine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • Donn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <donn> brown -- Brown Bull
  • Cúailngi -- toponym; genitive singular of <Cúailnge> Cuailnge -- of Cuailgne
  • leṁ -- pronominalized preposition; 1st person singular accusative of <laH> among, by, with -- through my intervention
  • .i. -- abbreviation of <ed-ón> that is -- that is
  • tarḃ -- noun; nominative singular masculine, o-stem, of <tarb> bull -- the bull
  • Dáiri maic Ḟiachnai -- proper name masculine; genitive singular of <Dáire mac Fiachnai> Daire son of Fiachnae -- of Daire mac Fiachnai
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • is -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- is
  • ed -- personal pronoun; 3rd person singular neuter of <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- such
  • aret -- noun; nominative singular neuter, o-stem, of <aret, airet> length, interval, space (of time) -- the space of time
  • biasu -- verb; compound form of 2nd person singular future indicative, absolute, syntactically relative, of substantive verb <attá> is + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- that you will be
  • iN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- ...
  • mbethu -- noun; dative singular masculine, dental stem, of <bethu> life, existence -- alive
  • coN -- conjunction; used as verbal particle; <con, coN> until; so that; and -- until
  • raḃ -- verb; 3rd person singular RO-present subjunctive, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- will have become
  • dartaiḋ -- noun; nominative singular masculine, i-stem, of <dartaid> heifer, bull calf -- a yearling
  • in -- article; nominative singular masculine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • lóeg -- noun; nominative singular masculine, o-stem, of <lóeg> calf -- calf
  • fil -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative, absolute, relative, of substantive verb <attá> is -- which is
  • inaH -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + suffixed possessive pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <aH> her -- in
  • broinn -- noun; dative singular feminine, n-stem, of <brú> belly, womb -- the womb
  • inaH -- article; genitive singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- of this
  • -- noun; genitive singular feminine, irregular, of <> cow, ox -- cow
  • so -- demonstrative pronoun; <so> this, these -- here
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • is -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- it is
  • é -- personal pronoun; 3rd person singular masculine of <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- this
  • consaíḋfea -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative active, deuterotonic, syntactically relative, of <con°saídi> stirs up, excites -- which will cause
  • Táin Bó Cúailngi -- noun; accusative singular feminine, i-stem, of <Táin Bó Cúailnge> Cattle-Raid of Cuailnge -- the Tain Bo Cuailnge

"Biaṁ airḋirciusa de dinL Táin í sin," ol Cú Chulainn.

  • biaṁ -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, of substantive verb <attá> is -- I will be
  • airḋirciusa -- adjective; compound form of comparative of <airdirc> obvious; renowned + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- all the more famous
  • de -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <diL, deL> from, of -- ...
  • dinL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <diL, deL> from, of + dative singular feminine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- through
  • Táin -- noun; dative singular feminine, i-stem, of <Táin> Tain, cattle-raid -- cattle-raid
  • í -- demonstrative particle; <í> this, these, those -- this
  • sin -- anaphoric demonstrative pronoun; <sin> this, that, those, the aforementioned -- very
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn

"Géna aN nánradu. Brisfea aN mórchathu. Bia tiġḃae naH Táno."

  • géna -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative active, absolute, of <gonaid> slays, kills, wounds -- I will slay
  • aN -- possessive pronoun 3rd person plural <aN> their -- their
  • nánradu -- noun; nasalized accusative plural masculine, o-stem, of <ánrad> hero, warrior, champion -- warriors
  • brisfea -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative active, absolute, of <brissid> breaks, destroys; defeats -- I will win
  • aN -- possessive pronoun 3rd person plural <aN> their -- their
  • mórchathu -- noun; compound form of adjective <már, mór> big, great + lenited accusative plural masculine, u-stem, of <cath> battle, fight -- big battles
  • bia -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, of substantive verb <attá> is -- I will be
  • tiġḃae -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <tigbae> surviving -- the survivor
  • naH -- article; genitive singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- of the
  • Táno -- noun; genitive singular feminine, i-stem, of <Táin> Tain, cattle-raid -- Tain

Lesson Text

Foceird Cú Chulainn beḋg inaL charpat feissin íaruṁ. Naicc ní iN nneoch íaruṁ inN mnaí nach inN garpat nach inN nech nach inN fer nach inN mboin, ocus coNnaccaesiuṁ íaruṁ: baH hénsi duḃ forsinL chroíḃ inaL ḟarraḋ.

"DoltachL ḃen atatLchoṁnaic," ol Cú Chulainn.

"Is Dolluḋ dono bias forsinL ġrellaiġ se coH bráth," ol inL ḃen.

Grellach Dolluiḋ íaruṁ aH hainm óL ṡin ille.

"Acht rofeisind beḋ tú ní saṁlaiḋ noscarfamais," ol Cú Chulainn.

"Ciḋ dorrignis," olsí, "bieith olc de."

"Ni cuṁgai olc daṁ," ol Cú Chulainn.

"Cuṁgaiṁ écin," ol inL ḃen. "Is oc dídin doL ḃáissiu atáusa ocus bia," olsí. "Doucussa inN mboin se éim," olsí, "aH síḋ Crúachan conda rodart in Donn Cúailngi leṁ .i. tarḃ Dáiri maic Ḟiachnai ocus is ed aret biasu iN mbethu coN raḃ dartaiḋ in lóeg fil inaH broinn inaH bó so ocus is é consaíḋfea Táin Bó Cúailngi."

"Biaṁ airḋirciusa de dinL Táin í sin," ol Cú Chulainn. "Géna aN nánradu. Brisfea aN mórchathu. Bia tiġḃae naH Táno."

Translation

Cu Chulainn leaps onto his own chariot after this. Nothing anywhere after this with regard to the woman, nor with regard to the chariot, nor with regard to the horse, nor with regard to the man, nor with regard to the cow, and then he saw it: she was a black bird on the branch near him.
"A pernicious woman, that is what you happen to be," said Cu Chulainn.
"It is Dollud, then, that this bog will be (called) until Doomsday," said the woman.
After this, Grellach Dolluid has been its name from that time on.
"If only I had known that it were you, we would not have parted like this," said Cu Chulainn.
"Whatever you would have done," said she, "misfortune will result from it."
"You cannot cause misfortune to me," said Cu Chulainn.
"Indeed I can," said the woman. "(Putting) the final touch(es) to your death, that is what I am at, and that is what I will be at," said she. "I have brought this cow," said she, "from the fairy fort of Rathcroghan, and through my intervention the Brown Bull of Cuailnge has mounted her, that is, the bull of Daire mac Fiachnai; and such is the space of time that you will be alive, until the calf, which is in the womb of this cow here, will have become a yearling, and it is this (bull calf) which will cause the Tain Bo Cuailnge."
"I will be all the more famous through this very cattle raid," said Cu Chulainn. "I will slay their warriors, I will win their big battles. I will be the survivor of the Tain."

Grammar

11. Syntax: Coordination

Sentences are coordinated by means of different conjunctions. Some of these are in origin prepositions and have the same meaning in both functions, while others are cases of nouns or pronouns and are followed by a dependent clause.

11.1. The Conjunction ocus

The most common copulative conjunction, linking sentences as well as words, is ocus 'and'. In the manuscripts, it is often abbreviated by a symbol resembling a small digit 7. Coordination, specifically the linking of sentences with ocus, has many applications and is often used where in modern European languages other kinds of constructions, such as subordination, are preferred. No conjunction is needed to link adjectives (an example will come up in lesson 4 in the phrase ... fer coṁthrén coṁchrotha coṁchliss coṁḟobaiḋ coṁéscaiḋ coṁchiníuil coṁghaisciḋ comméte friut ... 'A man of the same strength, of the same shape, of the same skill, of the same swiftness, of the same eagerness, of the same descent, of the same prowess, of the same height as you'), except where they are used predicatively and the copula is repeated between them (as in the phrase BaH hálaind ocus baH caín in t-énlorg ... 'It was delightful and it was beautiful the bird-flight' in lesson 1). In that case they are linked by ocus. A number of co-ordinate words which are constituent elements of a larger unit are linked by ocus and governed by the preposition eter iter etir, which precedes the first of them.

11.2. Alternatives to ocus

A special short form os is used when prefixed to the stressed nominative forms of personal pronouns (cf. lesson 1, section 15.1) in the sense of 'and I' (lit. 'I being') etc. (an example is found in lesson 1 in the phrase ... ocus aL inġen Deichtire os síL ṁacḋacht 'And his daughter Deichtire, she being an adult.'); before the pronoun of the 3rd person plural the form ot is used. In early legal texts os sometimes also occurs in other positions, and very early texts still preserve the old IE enclitic -ch 'and', which is usually either infixed after the proclitics ro, to, or suffixed to the copula ba. Early poetry and rhetorical speech also employ the conjunction scéo, scéu. The meaning 'as well ... as' is expressed by the repetition of the particle emid, which by itself means 'nearly, as it were'. Coordination may also be expressed by cenmithá 'besides that', which is followed either by a principal clause or by a nasalizing relative clause (cf. lesson 4, section 16).

11.3. Disjunctive Conjunctions

Separate co-ordinate clauses as well as members of the same clause are usually separated by disjunctive nó no, nú nu, which in the manuscripts is commonly symbolized by a small barred l. In combinations of disjunctive phrases leniting rodbo rodbu robo robu is used; it either introduces the first phrase while the remaining phrases are introduced by nó no, or it may introduce every phrase, or even, in more complex syntagms, it may stand only before the later phrases. Between disjunctive clauses airc, airg(g) is occasionally found in the meaning of 'or'. In disjunctive interrogative clauses of the type 'is it ... or ...?', 'whether ... or ...?' leniting fa, ba is used, while parallel von-verbal words or phrases in negative clauses are linked by geminating ná, na, before proclitics nach. Two parallel clauses may be disjuncted by placing sech before the first clause (e.g. sech níthartsat-som nícomtachtmar-ni 'neither have they given it nor have we sought (it)'); though at times the same construction can have copulative force (as in sech bid día, bid duine 'he will be both God and man').

11.4. Adversative Conjunctions

Adversative force can for example be expressed by noch (optionally reinforced by immurgu 'however' or calléic 'yet, nevertheless'), which can also serve as an emphatic copulative conjunction at the head of a principal clause, or by another conjunction sech, which is different from the copulative/disjunctive sech mentioned before.

12. The Two Paradigms of the Verb 'to be'

Like Spanish and Basque (non-Indo-European), Old Irish distinguishes two forms of the verb 'to be': the copula and the substantive verb. The copula (is) denotes 'to be' when it is used for linking the subject to its predicate and therefore is common in characterizations and descriptions (cf. Span. ser). Syntactically, the copula can also be used to topicalise a particular word, phrase, or even an entire subordinate clause. The substantive verb ((a)tá) has a wider semantic connotation, always denoting existence, be it a presence, a transient state, etc. (cf. Span. estar).

12.1. The Copula

The copula is proclitic and therefore never bears the stress. It immediately precedes the predicate. The forms of the copula go back to two different roots, IE es- and another one with initial bh- (OIr. b-).

Forms exist for the following tenses and moods: 1. Present indicative and subjunctive; 2. Past subjunctive; 3. Preterite and imperfect indicative (formally identical); 4. Future indicative; 5. Secondary Future indicative; 6. Imperative. Except for the imperative, all paradigms distinguish between absolute and conjunct forms; absolute flexion in the past subjunctive is exclusively found with the copula and does not exist for other verbs.

The forms of the copula are as follows:

Present Indicative

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   am   °da
2 Sg.   at   °da
3 Sg.   is   °t, °did (°id)
Rel.   as    
         
1 Pl.   ammi   °dan (arch. °dem)
2 Pl.   adib   °dad
3 Pl.   it   °dat
Rel.   ata    

For the 1st person plural absolute no relative form is attested. When combined with negative ni ní, the initial d- of the conjunct forms becomes t-, thus we have 1st and 2nd person singular nita níta, 1st person plural nitan nítan, etc., while the 3rd person singular has no ending and the form is simply ni ní.

Preterite and Imperfect Indicative

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   basa   °bsa, °psa, °sa
2 Sg.   basa   *°bsa, °sa
3 Sg.   ba ()   °bo, °po, °bu, °pu
Rel.   ba ()    
         
1 Pl.   ---   °bommar, °bum(m)ar
2 Pl.   ---   ---
3 Pl.   batir, batar   °btar, °ptar (°tar, °dar)
Rel.   batar    

Future Indicative

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   be   ---
2 Sg.   be, ba   °be, °pa
3 Sg.   bid bith   °be °pe, ba °pa
Rel.   bes, bas    
         
1 Pl.   bemmi, bimmi, bami   ---
2 Pl.   ---   °beth
3 Pl.   bit   °bat, °pat
Rel.   beta    

Present Subjunctive

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   ba   °ba
2 Sg.   ba (be)   °ba
3 Sg.   ba ()   °b, °p, ---, °dib, °dip (°bo, °po, °bu)
Rel.   bes, bas    
         
1 Pl.   ---   °ban
2 Pl.   bede   °bad (°baid)
3 Pl.   ---   °bat, °pat
Rel.   bete, beta, bata    

Past Subjunctive

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   ---   °bin, °benn
2 Sg.   ---   °ptha
3 Sg.   bid (bith)   °bad, °pad, °bed
Rel.   bed, bad    
         
1 Pl.   bemmis, bimmis   °bemmis, °bimmis
2 Pl.   ---   ---
3 Pl.   betis, bitis   °bdis, °ptis (°dis, °tis)

For the Secondary Future only forms of the 3rd persons are attested. These are always conjunct, and where they are not preceded by any other conjunct particle, the perfective particle ro- is prefixed to them. The attested forms are ro°bad, ro°pad for the singular and ro°btis ro°ptis for the plural.

Imperative

    Absolute
1 Sg.   ---
2 Sg.   ba
3 Sg.   bad, bed
     
1 Pl.   ban
2 Pl.   bad, bed
3 Pl.   bat
12.2. The Substantive Verb

Unlike the copula the substantive verb is stressed. It is the only verb which has a special set of forms for the so-called consuetudinal present, which has the meaning 'is wont to be, is continually', as opposed to the ordinary present denoting 'is (now)'.

The forms of the substantive verb are as follows:

Ordinary Present Indicative

    Conjunct
1 Sg.   °táu, °tó
2 Sg.   °taí
3 Sg.   °tá
     
1 Pl.   °taam
2 Pl.   °taid, °taaid, °taaith
3 Pl.   °taat

For its relative forms, the suppletive fil(e) is used, which, being a form of an old verb for 'to see', requires the accusative of the semantic subject.

Absolute flexion exists only in the 3rd persons, with attá, atá (i.e. *ad°tá) being the most common form. When conjunct forms are used after a conjunct particle, the preposition ad° is dropped.

A special impersonal form °táthar exists for the 3rd person singular.

Consuetudinal Present

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   bíuu   °bíu
2 Sg.   ---   °bí
3 Sg.   biid, biith, bíid   °bí
Rel.   bís    
         
1 Pl.   bímmi   °biam
Rel.   bímme    
3 Pl.   biit, bíit   °biat, °bíat
Rel.   bíte    

Again, special impersonal forms exist for the 3rd person singular; these are bíthir, absolute flexion, and °bíther, enclitic °rubthar, in the conjunct flexion. The relative form of bíthir is bíther.

Preterite Indicative

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.     °bá
2 Sg.   ---   °bá
3 Sg.   boí baí   °boí °baí
Rel.   boíe    
         
1 Pl.   bámar   °bámmar
2 Pl.   ---   °baid
3 Pl.   bátar, bátir   °bátar
Rel.   bátar    

The absolute forms are used far more rarely than the conjunct forms, and are found only in somewhat later texts.

The impersonal forms are *both(a)e, botha in the absolute flexion, with the relative form being identical (*both(a)e, botha), and °both in the conjunct flexion.

Future Indicative

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   bia   ---
2 Sg.   bie   ---
3 Sg.   bieid, bied   °bia, °bía
Rel.   bias    
         
1 Pl.   be(i)mmi   °biam
2 Pl.   bethe   °bieid, °bied
3 Pl.   bieit, biet, bíet   °biat
Rel.   be(i)te    

Secondary Future

    Conjunct
1 Sg.   °beinn
3 Sg.   °biad
     
1 Pl.   °bemmis
3 Pl.   °betis

Present Subjunctive

    Absolute   Conjunct
1 Sg.   beu, beo   °béo
2 Sg.   ---   °bee
3 Sg.   beith beid, beth bed   °bé
Rel.   bes(s)    
         
1 Pl.   be(i)mmi   °bem
2 Pl.   be(i)the   °beith, °beid
3 Pl.   beit   °bet
Rel.   bete    

The impersonal forms for the 3rd person singular are bethir (absolute), its relative form being bether, and bether (conjunct).

Past Subjunctive

    Conjunct
1 Sg.   °beinn
2 Sg.   °betha
3 Sg.   °beth, °bed
     
1 Pl.   °bemmis
2 Pl.   °bethe
3 Pl.   °betis

Some of the abovementioned conjunct forms insert ro° between the conjunct particle and the verbal stem; in that case the verb has a slightly different form, as the following table shows:

    Consuetudinal Present   Perfect Indicative   RO-present Subjunctive   Perfect Subjunctive
3 Sg.   °ru-b(a)i   °rob(a)e °rab(a)e   °roi-b   °ro-bad
1 Pl.   ---   °robammar   °ro-bam   ---
2 Pl.   ---   °robaid   °ro-bith   ---
3 Pl.   °ru-bat   °robatar °rabatar   °ro-bat   °roibtis

The substantive verb has a verbal of necessity, bu(i)thi. The verbal noun is buith, buid, genitive bu(i)the.

13. The Noun: o- and yo-Stems

These are masculine or neuter. As in all ancient Indo-European languages, the neuter only differs from the masculine in the nominative and accusative, which originally shows two distinct forms in the masculine paradigm while both cases are formally identical in the neuter.

The following table shows the inflections of the o-stem fer, masculine, 'man':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   fer   firL   ferL
Voc.   fir   firu   ferL
Acc.   ferN   firu   ferL
Gen.   firL   ferN   fer
Dat.   fiurL   feraib   feraib

The following table shows the inflections of the o-stem dliged, neuter, 'law':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   dligedN   dligedL dligeda   dligedN
Voc.   dligedN   dligedL dligeda   dligedN
Acc.   dligedN   dligedL dligeda   dligedN
Gen.   dligidL   dligedN   dliged
Dat.   dligudL   dligedaib   dligedaib

The inflection of yo-stems is represented by céile, masculine, 'fellow':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   céile   céili   céile
Voc.   céili   céiliu   céile
Acc.   céileN   céiliu   céile
Gen.   céiliL   céileN   céile
Dat.   céiliuL   céilib   céilib

...and by cride, neuter, 'heart':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   crideN   cride   crideN
Voc.   crideN   cride   crideN
Acc.   crideN   cride   crideN
Gen.   cridiL   crideN   cride
Dat.   cridiuL   cridib   cridib
14. The Syntax of the Adjective

An adjective which is used as predicative nominative is inflected and generally agrees with its subject in gender and number (as in the abovementioned BaH hálaind ocus baH caín in t-énlorg ... 'It was delightful and it was beautiful the bird-flight' in lesson 1), except where a neuter adjective in the singular predicates a plural noun. In attributive use, the adjective follows its noun, with which it agrees in gender, number, and case (e.g. ... baH hén-si duḃ ... 'She was a black bird', in this lesson). However, in prose certain adjectives generally precede their noun; these are the cardinal numerals 2, 3 and 4 (also 5-10, but these remain uninflected), the ordinal numerals, and cach cech 'each', nach 'any', and uile 'all, whole' (cf. Is dír daṁ-sa éim baí UlaḋN n-uile 'It is fitting for me indeed (to judge) the cows of all of the Ulstermen' in lesson 2).

15. Personal and Possessive Pronouns I

It has already been noted in lesson 2, section 10 that the independent forms of the personal and possessive pronouns are more restricted in their use than their dependent counterparts and are mainly employed to highlight the agent, especially where a differenciation between two subjects is desired. All of the forms mentioned below are therefore emphatic, not just the more complex ones termed 'emphatic', which are used to add extra reinforcement.

15.1. Independent Personal Pronouns

The independent personal pronouns are most commonly used predicatively and are just nominatives after the copula and is most commonly used as predicative nominative after the copula, which is then in the 3rd person, and the pronoun agrees with the subject in gender (e.g. in this lesson ... is ed aret ..., lit. 'It is it, the space of time' > 'Such is the space of time', ... is é consaíḋfea Táin Bó Cúailngi, lit. 'It is he who will cause the Tain Bo Cuailnge', or Acht rofeisind beḋ tú ... 'If only I had known that it were you'). The 1st and 2nd person plural of the independent personal pronoun always take a singular form of the copula, even where the subject is plural (e.g. is snisni ata bobes 'It is we who are boues'); but not the 3rd person plural, which always takes the plural form of the copula.

The stressed nominative forms are:

  • 1st person singular: , emphatic messe, meisse, mese
  • 2nd person singular: , emphatic tussuL, tusuL
  • 3rd person singular: masculine (h)é, emphatic (h)é-som, feminine , neuter (h)ed
  • 1st person plural: sní, emphatic snisni, sníni
  • 2nd person plural: sí, sib, emphatic sissi, sisi
  • 3rd person plural, all genders: (h)é, emphatic héssom
15.2. Emphasizing Personal Pronouns

Also termed notae augentes, the emphasizing personal pronouns are used to reinforce the pronominal concept or the personal concept already expressed in the sentence. They are always enclitic and can be suffixed to any pronoun or verb (except the copula, which is proclitic and therefore cannot support other clitics). The forms of the emphasizing personal pronouns are:

  • 1st person singular: se after palatal consonants and -e, -i, otherwise sa
  • 2nd person singular: siu after palatals, otherwise so
  • 3rd person singular: masculine and neuter som, feminine si
  • 1st person plural: ni
  • 2nd person plural: si
  • 3rd person plural, all genders: som.

The initial s is never lenited; but it is sometimes geminated after vowels.

15.3. Possessive Pronouns

The possessive pronoun is formally the old genitive of the personal pronoun and is therefore uninflected. It usually stands in unstressed position before the noun it qualifies, so that the commonest forms are the unstressed ones; they are as follows:

  • 1st person singular: moL muL; but simple mLafter prepositions ending in a vowel, and after the preposition for
  • 2nd person singular: doL duL; but tL after prepositions ending in a vowel, and after the preposition for
  • 3rd person singular: masculine and neuter aL; feminine aH
  • 1st person plural: arN
  • 2nd person plural: farN, forN
  • 3rd person plural: aN.

The stressed forms of the possessive pronoun occur very rarely, because they are only used predicatively; yet in such constructions, where possessive pronouns are used predicatively in other modern Indo-European languages, Old Irish nearly always employs the preposition la or do plus suffixed (i.e. unstressed) personal pronoun instead (e.g. is limm sa 'He is mine').

The following stressed forms are found:

  • 1st person singular: muí, emphatic muisse
  • 2nd person singular: taí
  • 3rd person singular: aí, áe, all genders
  • 1st person plural: nathar (náthar)
  • 2nd person plural: sethar-si
  • 3rd person plural: aí, áe.