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Old Irish Online

Lesson 4

Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel, Caren Esser, and Jonathan Slocum

The following section constitutes the final part of the Táin Bó Regamna, continuing Lessons 2 and 3. After having been foretold his death, Cú Chulainn enters into a battle of words with the war-goddess, in which he threatens to defeat her in the imminent battle of the Táin Bó Cuailgne, and that she will have to beg his forgiveness. But the war-goddess comes up with a new plot every time, telling him how she will three times take on the shape of a different animal in order to succeed with her plan.

Reading and Textual Analysis

An interesting element of this passage is the wording of Cú Chulainn's oath, which he utters three times altogether, following each of the threats of the war-goddess. The verb employed is tongaid 'swear' (in for-tongu and tongu-sa), and the name of the god is not said, which has its equivalent in the magic formulas of the Gaulish inscription of Chamalières, where we find the figura etymologica toncnaman toncsiiontio 'who will swear the oath', and is also known from Middle Welsh tales such as Kulhwch ac Olwen in the formula tynghaf dynghet. The fact that the decisive battle will take place at a ford is characteristic of Celtic battles and Celtic lore history.

The text ends with the third oath, in which Cú Chulainn once again threatens to harm the war-goddess, this time by a shot from his sling that will break her thigh, so that he will not be killed that day. Finally, he returns home to Dún Imrid, while the red woman, for the first and only time named as Morrígan, continues on with her cow to the fairy-fort of Crúachu.

"Cinnas conicfaesu anní sin", ol inL bʰen.

  • cinnas -- adverb; <cinnas> how -- how
  • conicfaesu -- verb; compound form of 2nd person singular future indicative, deuterotonic, of <con°icc> can, is able + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- will you be able
  • anní -- demonstrative particle; neuter; <anní> this, that -- this
  • sin -- anaphoric demonstrative pronoun; <sin> this, that, those, the aforementioned -- ...
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • inL -- article; nominative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • bʰen -- noun; lenited nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ben> woman, wife -- woman

"Ar inN dain nombiasu oc comʰruc friH fer comʰthrén comʰchrotha comʰchliss comʰfʰobaidʰ comʰéscaidʰ comʰchiníuil comʰghaiscidʰ comméte friut bam escongsa ocus foLchichiur curu immotL chossa issindL áth coN mba éccomʰlonn mór."

  • ar -- conjunction; <air, ar> for -- for
  • inN -- article; accusative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- at the
  • dain -- noun; nasalized accusative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <tan, tain> time -- time
  • nombiasu -- verb; 2nd person singular future indicative, conjunct, syntactically relative, of substantive verb <attá> is + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- when you will be
  • oc -- preposition; <oc> at, with, by -- in
  • comʰruc -- noun; dative singular neuter, o-stem, of <comrac> encounter; combat; collision; sexual relation -- combat
  • friH -- preposition; <frithL, friH> against, towards -- with
  • fer -- noun; accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <fer> man -- a man
  • comʰthrén -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + lenited adjective <trén> strong -- of the same strength
  • comʰchrotha -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + lenited genitive singular masculine, u-stem, of <cruth> form, appearance -- of the same shape
  • comʰchliss -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + lenited genitive singular neuter, o-stem, of <cless> feat, skill -- of the same skill
  • comʰfʰobaidʰ -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + lenited adjective <fobaid> quick, prompt, active -- of the same swiftness
  • comʰéscaidʰ -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + adjective <éscaid> alert, eager; swift -- of the same eagerness
  • comʰchiníuil -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + genitive singular neuter, o-stem, of <cenél> race, tribe; descent -- of the same descent
  • comʰghaiscidʰ -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + genitive singular masculine, o-stem, of <gaisced> weapons, armour; prowess -- of the same prowess
  • comméte -- adjective; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + genitive singular feminine, yā-stem, of <méit> greatness, magnitude, size -- of the same height
  • friut -- pronominalized preposition; 2nd person singular accusative of <frithL, friH> against, towards -- as you
  • bam -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, of copula <is> is -- I will be
  • escongsa -- noun; compound form of nominative singular feminine, of <escong> eel + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- an eel
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • foLchichiur -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative active, deuterotonic, of <fo°ceird> sets, puts; throws -- I will throw
  • curu -- verbal noun; accusative plural masculine, o-stem, of <cor> putting; throwing; letting go -- slings
  • immotL -- preposition; compound form of preposition; <imbL, immL> around, about; mutually + possessive pronoun 2nd person singular <doL, tL> your -- around your
  • chossa -- noun; lenited accusative plural feminine, ā-stem, of <coss, cos> foot, leg -- feet
  • issindL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + accusative singular masculine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- in the
  • áth -- noun; accusative singular masculine, u-stem, of <áth> ford -- ford
  • coN -- conjunction; used as verbal particle; <con, coN> until; so that; and -- so that
  • mba -- verb; nasalized 3rd person singular future indicative, conjunct, of copula <is> is -- it will be
  • éccomʰlonn -- noun; nominative singular masculine, o-stem, of <éccomlonn> unequal combat, unfair odds -- a... unequal combat
  • mór -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <már, mór> big, great -- very

"Fortongu doL dʰía toingthe Ulaidʰ", ol Cú Chulainn, "fortatnesabʰsu friH glaisslecca indL átho ocus nicotL bʰia ícc úaimLse de coH bráth manimL dʰergaissu."

  • fortongu -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative, deuterotonic, of <for°toing> swears, attests -- I swear
  • doL -- preposition; <duL, doL> to -- by
  • dʰía -- noun; lenited dative singular masculine, o-stem, of <dé, día> god -- the god
  • toingthe -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative, absolute, relative of <tongaid> swears, takes an oath -- by which... swear
  • Ulaidʰ -- proper name; nominative plural masculine, o-stem, of <Ulaid> Ulidians, Ulstermen -- the Ulstermen
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn
  • fortatnesabʰsu -- verb; compound form of 1st person singular future indicative active, deuterotonic, of <for°nesa> strikes, kicks, crushes + infixed pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- I will crush you
  • friH -- preposition; <frithL, friH> against, towards -- against
  • glaisslecca -- noun; compound form of adjective <glass, glas> greenish, blue, grey + accusative plural feminine, ā-stem, of <lecc> rock, stone -- the grey stones
  • indL -- article; genitive singular masculine of <in, aN, indL> the -- of the
  • átho -- noun; genitive singular masculine, u-stem, of <áth> ford -- ford
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • nicotL -- independent negative; compound form of negative particle <nícon, nicon> not + infixed pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you -- no... for you
  • bʰia -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, conjunct, of substantive verb <attá> is -- there will be
  • ícc -- noun; nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ícc> cure; solution -- cure
  • úaimLse -- pronominalized preposition; compound form of 1st person singular dative of <óL, úaL> from, by + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- on my part
  • de -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <diL, deL> from, of -- from it
  • coH -- preposition; <coH> to, until -- until
  • bráth -- noun; accusative singular masculine, u-stem, of <bráth> Doomsday -- Doomsday
  • manimL -- conjunction; compound form of negative conjunction <mani> if not + infixed pronoun 1st person singular <mL, mmL> I -- unless... my
  • dʰergaissu -- verb; 2nd person singular RO-present subjunctive active, prototonic, of <do°guid> entreats, asks pardon + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- you ask... pardon

"Bia sodʰsa dono glass duitsiu", olsí, "ocus gébʰa bréit dotL dʰóitind deiss conicci doL rigʰidʰ clí."

  • bia -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, of substantive verb <attá> is -- I will be
  • sodʰsa -- noun; nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <sod, sad> bitch, wolf-bitch + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- a... wolf-bitch
  • dono -- emphatic particle; <dano, dono> again, now, then -- then
  • glass -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <glass, glas> greenish, blue, grey -- grey
  • duitsiu -- pronominalized preposition; compound form of 2nd person singular dative of <duL, doL> to + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- against you
  • 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
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • gébʰa -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative active, absolute, of <gaibid> takes; proceeds; recites -- I will take
  • bréit -- noun; accusative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <bréit> strip; cloth; shred -- a strip
  • dotL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <diL, deL> from, of + suffixed possessive pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you -- off... your
  • dʰóitind -- noun; lenited compound form of <dóe> arm + dative singular neuter, o-stem, of <ind> end -- the end of... arm
  • deiss -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <dess> right, south of -- right
  • conicci -- preposition; <conicci> as far as, up to, to, till -- up to
  • doL -- possessive pronoun; 2nd person singular <doL, tL> your -- your
  • rigʰidʰ -- noun; accusative singular feminine, dental stem, of <rig> fore-arm -- fore-arm
  • clí -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <clé> left -- left

"Tongusa doL dʰía toingte Ulaidʰ", ol Cú Chulainn, "notLbʰenabʰsu sechamʰ comʰL chleittíniu coN mmemʰa doL sʰúil itL chinn ocus nicotL bʰia ícc úaimLse de coH bráth manimL dʰergaissu."

  • tongusa -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative, absolute, of <tongaid> swears, takes an oath + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- I swear
  • doL -- preposition; <duL, doL> to -- by
  • dʰía -- noun; lenited dative singular masculine, o-stem, of <dé, día> god -- the god
  • toingte -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative, absolute, relative of <tongaid> swears, takes an oath -- by which... swear
  • Ulaidʰ -- proper name; nominative plural masculine, o-stem, of <Ulaid> Ulidians, Ulstermen -- the Ulstermen
  • ol -- indeclinable; <ol> says, said -- said
  • Cú Chulainn -- proper name masculine; nominative singular of <Cú Chulainn> Hound of Culann -- Cu Chulainn
  • notLbʰenabʰsu -- verb; compound form of verbal particle <no>... + infixed pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you + 1st person singular future indicative active, conjunct, of <benaid> beats, strikes, slays, wounds + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- I... will strike you
  • sechamʰ -- pronominalized preposition; 1st person singular accusative of <sech> past, beyond -- myself
  • comʰL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + suffixed possessive pronoun 1st person singular <moL, mL> my -- with my
  • chleittíniu -- noun; lenited dative singular masculine, yo-stem, of <cleittíne> javelin, dart -- javelin
  • coN -- conjunction; used as verbal particle; <con, coN> until; so that; and -- so that
  • mmemʰa -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, conjunct, of <maidid> breaks, bursts -- shall burst
  • doL -- possessive pronoun; 2nd person singular <doL, tL> your -- your
  • sʰúil -- noun; lenited nominative singular feminine, i-stem, of <súil> eye -- eye
  • itL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + suffixed possessive pronoun 2nd person singular <doL, tL> your -- inside your
  • chinn -- noun; lenited dative singular neuter, o-stem, of <cenn> head, front; end -- head
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • nicotL -- independent negative; compound form of negative particle <nícon, nicon> not + infixed pronoun 2nd person singular <totL, tatL, tL> you -- no... for you
  • bʰia -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, conjunct, of substantive verb <attá> is -- there will be
  • ícc -- noun; nominative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <ícc> cure; solution -- cure
  • úaimLse -- pronominalized preposition; compound form of 1st person singular dative of <óL, úaL> from, by + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- on my part
  • de -- pronominalized preposition; 3rd person singular neuter dative of <diL, deL> from, of -- from it
  • coH -- preposition; <coH> to, until -- until
  • bráth -- noun; accusative singular masculine, u-stem, of <bráth> Doomsday -- Doomsday
  • manimL -- conjunction; compound form of negative conjunction <mani> if not + infixed pronoun 1st person singular <mL, mmL> I -- unless... my
  • dʰergaissu -- verb; 2nd person singular RO-present subjunctive active, prototonic, of <do°guid> entreats, asks pardon + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- you ask... pardon

"Biamʰ samʰaiscse finn áuderg dono", olsissi, "ocus doragʰ issinN linn iN fail indL átho inN nattan rombiasu oc comʰruc friH fer busL choimʰchliss duit ocus cétN mbó finnN náuderg imL dʰiaidʰ ocus memʰais ind éit uile imL dʰiaidʰse issinN náth ocus conbibʰsustar fír ferN fortsu aN llá sin ocus géttair doL chenn ditL issindL áth sin."

  • biamʰ -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, absolute, of substantive verb <attá> is -- I will be
  • samʰaiscse -- noun; nominative singular feminine, ī-stem, of <samaisc> heifer + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- a... heifer
  • finn -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <find, finn> white, bright -- white
  • áuderg -- adjective; compound of <áu> ear + nominative singular feminine of adjective <derg> red -- red-eared
  • dono -- emphatic particle; <dano, dono> again, now, then -- then
  • olsissi -- indeclinable; compound form of indeclinable <ol> says, said + emphatic personal pronoun 3rd person singular feminine <(h)é, síL, (h)ed> he, she, it -- said she
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • doragʰ -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative, deuterotonic, of <do°tét, do°téit> comes; goes -- I will come
  • issinN -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + accusative singular feminine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- into the
  • linn -- noun; accusative singular feminine, yā-stem, of <linn> pool, lake, sea -- water
  • iN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- at
  • fail -- noun; dative singular feminine, i-stem, of <fail> place, spot -- a spot
  • indL -- article; genitive singular masculine of <in, aN, indL> the -- of the
  • átho -- noun; genitive singular masculine, u-stem, of <áth> ford -- ford
  • inN -- preposition; <in, iN> in, into -- ...
  • nattan -- noun; nasalized dative singular feminine, ā-stem, of <attan, attain> another time -- once again
  • rombiasu -- verb; compound form of nasalized 2nd person singular RO-future indicative, conjunct, syntactically relative, of substantive verb <attá> is + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- when... you will be
  • oc -- preposition; <oc> at, with, by -- in
  • comʰruc -- noun; dative singular neuter, o-stem, of <comrac> encounter; combat; collision; sexual relation -- combat
  • friH -- preposition; <frithL, friH> against, towards -- against
  • fer -- noun; accusative singular masculine, o-stem, of <fer> man -- a man
  • busL -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, absolute, relative, of copula <is> is -- who will be
  • choimʰchliss -- adjective; lenited compound form of preposition <comL, coN> with + lenited genitive singular neuter, o-stem, of <cless> feat, skill -- as skilled
  • duit -- pronominalized preposition; 2nd person singular dative of <duL, doL> to -- as you
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • cétN -- numeral; nominative singular neuter, o-stem, of <cétN> hundred -- a hundred
  • mbó -- noun; nasalized genitive plural feminine, irregular, of <> cow, ox -- cows
  • finnN -- adjective; genitive plural feminine of <find, finn> white, bright -- white
  • náuderg -- adjective; nasalized compound of <áu> ear + genitive plural feminine of adjective <derg> red -- red-eared
  • imL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + possessive pronoun 1st person singular <moL, mL> my -- me
  • dʰiaidʰ -- noun; lenited accusative singular neuter, o-stem, of <dead, diad> end -- after
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • memʰais -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative, absolute, of <maidid> breaks, bursts -- will charge
  • ind -- article; nominative singular feminine of <in, aN, indL> the -- the
  • éit -- noun; nominative singular feminine, yā-stem, of <éit> cattle -- cattle
  • uile -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <uile> all, whole -- all
  • imL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + possessive pronoun 1st person singular <moL, mL> my -- on my
  • dʰiaidʰse -- noun; lenited compound form of accusative singular neuter, o-stem, of <dead, diad> end + emphasizing particle 1st person singular <se, sa> I -- trail
  • issinN -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + accusative singular masculine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- into the
  • náth -- noun; nasalized accusative singular masculine, u-stem, of <áth> ford -- ford
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • conbibʰsustar -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative passive, deuterotonic, of <con°boing> breaks; defeats; violates -- will be violated
  • fír -- noun; nominative singular neuter, o-stem, of <fír> truth; right; justice -- the right
  • ferN -- noun; genitive plural masculine, o-stem, of <fer> man -- of men
  • fortsu -- pronominalized preposition; compound form of 2nd person singular dative of preposition <for> on, over + emphasizing particle 2nd person singular <siu, so, su> you -- against you
  • aN -- article; accusative singular neuter of <in, aN, indL> the -- on that
  • llá -- noun; nasalized accusative singular neuter, yo-stem, of <láaN, láN> day, daylight -- day
  • sin -- anaphoric demonstrative pronoun; <sin> this, that, those, the aforementioned -- very
  • ocus -- conjunction; <ocus> and -- and
  • géttair -- verb; 3rd person singular future indicative passive, absolute, of <gataid> takes away, removes; steals -- will be chopped
  • doL -- possessive pronoun; 2nd person singular <doL, tL> your -- your
  • chenn -- noun; lenited nominative singular neuter, o-stem, of <cenn> head, front; end -- head
  • ditL -- pronominalized preposition; 2nd person singular dative of <diL, deL> from, of -- off you
  • issindL -- preposition; compound form of preposition <in, iN> in, into + dative singular masculine of article <in, aN, indL> the -- in that
  • áth -- noun; dative singular masculine, u-stem, of <áth> ford -- ford
  • sin -- anaphoric demonstrative pronoun; <sin> this, that, those, the aforementioned -- very

Lesson Text

"Cinnas conicfaesu anní sin", ol inL bʰen. "Ar inN dain nombiasu oc comʰruc friH fer comʰthrén comʰchrotha comʰchliss comʰfʰobaidʰ comʰéscaidʰ comʰchiníuil comʰghaiscidʰ comméte friut bam escongsa ocus foLchichiur curu immotL chossa issindL áth coN mba éccomʰlonn mór."

"Fortongu doL dʰía toingthe Ulaidʰ", ol Cú Chulainn, "fortatnesabʰsu friH glaisslecca indL átho ocus nicotL bʰia ícc úaimLse de coH bráth manimL dʰergaissu."

"Bia sodʰsa dono glass duitsiu", olsí, "ocus gébʰa bréit dotL dʰóitind deiss conicci doL rigʰidʰ clí."

"Tongusa doL dʰía toingte Ulaidʰ", ol Cú Chulainn, "notLbʰenabʰsu sechamʰ comʰL chleittíniu coN mmemʰa doL sʰúil itL chinn ocus nicotL bʰia ícc úaimLse de coH bráth manimL dʰergaissu."

"Biamʰ samʰaiscse finn áuderg dono", olsissi, "ocus doragʰ issinN linn iN fail indL átho inN nattan rombiasu oc comʰruc friH fer busL choimʰchliss duit ocus cétN mbó finnN náuderg imL dʰiaidʰ ocus memʰais ind éit uile imL dʰiaidʰse issinN náth ocus conbibʰsustar fír ferN fortsu aN llá sin ocus géttair doL chenn ditL issindL áth sin."

Translation

"How will you be able (to do) this?", said the woman. "For at the time when you will be in combat against 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, I will be an eel, and I will throw slings around your feet in the ford, so that it will be a very unequal combat."
"I swear by the god by which the Ulstermen swear", said Cu Chulainn, "I will crush you against the grey stones of the ford, and there will be no cure from it for you on my part until Doomsday, unless you ask my pardon."
"I will be a grey wolf-bitch, then, against you", said she, "and I will take a strip off the end of your right arm up to your left fore-arm."
"I swear by the god by which the Ulstermen swear", said Cu Chulainn, "I myself will strike you with my javelin so that your eye shall burst inside your head, and there will be no cure from it for you on my part until Doomsday, unless you ask my pardon."
"I will be a white, red-eared heifer then", said she, "and I will come into the water at a spot of the ford when once again you will be in combat against a man who will be as skilled as you, and a hundred white, red-eared cows after me, and all the cattle will charge into the ford after me, and the right of men will be violated against you on that very day, and your head will be chopped off you in that very ford."

Grammar

16. Relative Clauses
16.1. Types of Relative Clauses

There are basically three types of relative clauses in Old Irish, depending on the relation between the relative clause and the antecedent:

Where the antecedent is the subject of the verb of the relative clause, the leniting relative clause is used. Where the antecedent is the object of the verb of the relative clause, the nasalising relative clause or optionally the leniting relative clause is used. The construction with nasalising relative clause is also employed where the antecedent (a) is the verbal noun of the verb of the relative clause, (b) is semantically the predicative nominative of the relative clause, (c) designates the manner or degree of the contents of the relative clause, or (d) designates the place or time at which the contents of the relative clause take place. Where the relation between relative clause and antecedent is expressed by a preposition, the prepositional relative clause is used.

In all types of relative clauses, the essential marker of relativity is just the lenition or nasalisation showing in the initial consonant of their predicate. In addition, some further relative morphemes may appear in the relative clause:

  • The special relative form of simple verbs, absolute inflection, in the 3rd persons or in the 1st person plural (such as the 3rd person plural toingthe in do día toingthe Ulaid 'by the god by which the Ulstermen swear' in the text of this lesson, or the 3rd person singular bias in is Dollud dono bias forsin grellaig se 'it is Dollud then that this bog will be' in the previous lesson).
  • The semantically void verbal prefix no before all other persons of simple verbs.
  • The special relative forms of the negative: nad/nád, na/ná, before infixed pronouns nach-/nách-.
  • The special relative forms imme/imma and ara of the prototonic prepositions imm and ar (as in ara scortis a cairptiu 'that they should unyoke their chariots' in lesson 1).

In the construction with prepositional relative clause, the preposition stands at the beginning of the relative clause, followed by the enclitic element -aN or -saN, which remains uninflected; the variant used depends on the original final sound of the preposition: after original vowels, the form with s- is used, so that the preposition ar becomes ar-aN, co becomes cosaN, etc.

Furthermore, the infixed personal pronouns have special relative forms, which cause lenition or nasalisation depending on the person, yet their use is not obligatory (for these see lesson 6, section 26).

17. The Verb: Voice and Stem-Classes
17.1. Active vs. Impersonal/Passive

As has been pointed out in lesson 1, section 3.3, Old Irish distinguishes two voices, active and passive. Verbs with active meaning either have active personal forms, or personal forms resembling those of the passive. These latter forms ends in -r (except in the 2nd person plural) and have correspondences in Italic, Hittite and Tocharian; they constitute the so-called deponent inflection and will be discussed in more detail in lesson 9, section 45.2.

All active verbs (including deponents) -- be they transitive or intransitive -- have two additional, impersonal forms, one for the singular and one for the plural, both ending in -r. They are used in impersonal constructions, e.g. of intransitive verbs: tíagar 'let someone/people go' (from téit 'goes'), lit. 'let it be gone'. In lesson 3, section 12.2, examples have been seen from the substantive verb.

Both singular and plural impersonal forms are used to form passive constructions of active verbs. They do not require an added personal pronoun when used for the 3rd person singular (e.g. carthair/°carthar 'he/she/it is loved', 3rd person singular absolute/conjunct, present indicative) or plural (e.g. cartair/°cartar 'they are loved', 3rd person plural absolute/conjunct, present indicative). The 3rd person singular of the impersonal is also used to express the passive of a 1st or 2nd person singular or plural; in this type of construction, an infixed personal pronoun is necessary to indicate the subject: e.g. no-m-charthar 'I am loved', no-t-charthar 'you are loved' (the lenition of the initial c- of the verbal stem is caused by the infixed pronouns), no-n-carthar 'we are loved', no-b-carthar 'ye are loved'. Thus, parallel to the active, also the impersonal/passive distinguishes between absolute and conjunct inflection (also with special relative forms in the absolute inflection).

17.2. The Stem-Classes and their Characteristics

According to the way in which active and deponent verbs form their present stem, eight different stem-classes can be distinguished, three for the weak verbs and five for the strong verbs (on this distinction, cf. lesson 1, section 3.3). The stem-class a verb belongs to can best be seen in the conjunct form of the 3rd person singular present indicative active, where the numbers in brackets refer to their classification according to R. Thurneysen's Grammar of Old Irish (GOI):

A. Stem-classes of weak verbs:

1. 3rd person singular conjunct ending in -a (e.g. °móra, from móraid 'magnifies'), corresponding to weak verbs whose verbal stem ended in -a. 2. 3rd person singular conjunct ending in -i (e.g. °léici, from léicid 'leaves'), corresponding to weak verbs whose verbal stem ended in -i. 3. So- called 'hiatus-verbs' (e.g. °gní, from gníid 'does', or °rá from ráid 'rows'), corresponding to verbal stems from roots ending in a vowel.

B. Stem-classes of strong verbs:

  1. 3rd person singular conjunct showing no ending (e.g. °beir, from berid 'bears'), corresponding mainly to verbs whose present stem originally consisted of the root + thematic vowel; the reflex of the (lost) thematic vowel e/o, depending on the person caused interchange between palatal and neutral quality of the final consonant of the stem. This class also contains certain other types of present-stem formations. Most strong verbs belong to this class, but no deponents.
  2. 3rd person singular conjunct showing no ending (e.g. °gaib, from ga(i)bid 'takes'), corresponding to verbs whose present stem originally consisted of the root + *-ye-/-yo-; the reflex of the old formative *-ye-/-yo- caused the final consonant of the root to be palatalised in all persons.
  3. 3rd person singular conjunct showing no ending (e.g. °boing, from bongid 'breaks, reaps'), corresponding to a small number of verbs who are characterised by an -n-infix before the last consonant of the root, which is always d or g.
  4. 3rd person singular conjunct showing no ending (e.g. °ben, from benaid 'hews, cuts'), corresponding to verbs who are characterised by an -n-suffix after the root, so that the present-stem ends in -n, which was originally always neutral in quality.
  5. 3rd person singular conjunct showing no ending (e.g. ara°chrin 'knows', or do°lin 'flows'), corresponding to a small number of verbs with the same characteristics as B IV, but where the neutral quality of the final -n of the present-stem was not original.
18. The Noun: ā- and yā-Stems

These are all feminine. The following table shows the inflection of the ā-stem túath 'tribe, people':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   túathL   túatha   túaithL
Voc.   túath   túatha   túaithL
Acc.   túaithL   túatha   túaithL
Gen.   túa(i)the   túathN   túathL
Dat.   túaithL   túath(a)ib   túath(a)ib

There are two types of yā-stems: the ordinary yā-stems and those with old nominative in -ī. The latter only differ from the ordinary yā-stems in the nominative, vocative singular and in the nominative, accusative dual, where they show palatal quality in the final consonant and have no ending. The ordinary yā-stems are represented by soilse 'light' in the following table:

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   soilseL   soilsi   soilsi
Voc.   soilseL   *soilsi   soilsi
Acc.   soilsiN   soilsi   soilsi
Gen.   soilse   soilseN   soilse
Dat.   soilsiL   soilsib   soilsib

The stems with old nominative in -ī are represented by sétig 'female companion, wife':

    Singular   Plural   Dual
Nom.   sétigL   séitchi   sétigL
Voc.   sétigL   *séitchi   sétigL
Acc.   séitchiN   séitchi   sétigL
Gen.   séitche   séitcheN   *séitcheL
Dat.   séitchiL   séitchib   *séitchib
19. Numerals
19.1. Cardinals

The cardinal numerals are:

    1   óen       6   séH       20   fiche       70   sechtmogo
    2   da       7   sechtN       30   tricho       80   ochtmogo
    3   tri       8   ochtN       40   cethorcho       90   nocha
    4   ceth(a)ir       9   noiN       50   coíca       100   cét
    5   cóicL       10   deichN       60   sesca       1000   míle

The cardinals cóic and nasalize a following genitive plural. Cardinals between 10 and 100 are formed by the digit plus the ten following in the genitive (all decads are masculine and inflect as nt-stems; cf. lesson 7, section 33.4). The noun to which a numeral refers stands immediately after the digit and agrees with it in number (e.g. noí cairptiu 'nine chariots' and L én 'two birds' in lesson 1, or di litir fichet '22 letters'). Where the numeral is not defined, it is preceded by the geminating particle aH* (e.g. a dáu 'two', a ocht deac '18'). The decads as well as cét and míle are always substantives and are followed by the genitive of the enumerated objects (e.g. in lesson 1 noí fichit én lit. 'nine twenties of birds').

The cardinal numerals are nominal, except for those from 1 to 10, which are adjectival and are used predicatively (or as substantives when identical things are enumerated). Only 2, 3, and 4 are inflected for case and, unlike in most other IE languages, also distinguish gender.

The cardinal two

2   Masc.   Fem.   Ntr.
Nom.   daL, L   diL, L   daN, N
Acc.   daL, L   diL, L   daN, N
Gen.   daL, L   daL, L   daN, N
Dat.   dibN, deibN   dibN, deibN   dibN, deibN

The cardinals three and four

3, 4   Masc/Ntr.   Fem.       Masc/Ntr.   Fem.
Nom.   tri   teoir teuir, téora       ceth(a)ir   cethéoir, cethéora
Acc.   tri   téora       cethri   cethéora
Gen.   tri   téora           cethéora
Dat.   trib   téoraib       *cethrib   cethéoraib

Particularly when enumerating different things, special numeral substantives are formed by adding the suffix -de, inflecting as neuter yo-stems. When enumerating persons, special numeral substantives are formed by compounding the cardinals with fer 'man', with the exception of 'two persons', for which dias is used.

19.2. Ordinals

The forms of the ordinals are:

    1st   cétn(a)e       6th   se(i)ssed       20th   fichetmad
    2nd   tán(a)ise       7th   sechtmad       30th   trichatmad
    3rd   tris(s)       8th   ochtmad       100th   cétmad
    4th   cethramad       9th   nómad            
    5th   cóiced       10th   dechmad            

In combination with tens, cétn(a)e is replaced by oínmad, oénmad, and tán(a)ise is replaced by indeclinable alaN, which in turn combines with the article to give indala for all genders and cases.

All ordinals, whether inflected or not (cf. lesson 3, section 14; the forms in -ed -ad are o- and ā-stems), stand before the noun they qualify (with the exception of tán(a)ise 'second', which follows its noun). In combinations of digits with tens and hundreds, only the digit takes the ordinal form, while the tens are expressed by the genitive of the cardinal (see above 19.1), and the hundreds are attached by means of ar; the noun to which the numeral refers stands immediately after the digit. Examples are in chóiced fichet 'the twenty-fifth', indala n-ainmm deac 'the twelfth name', isin fichtetmad blíadain ar chét 'in the one hundred and twentieth year'.

20. Suffixed Pronouns

Unstressed personal pronouns can be added to stressed verbs or prepositions. To verbs, the pronouns can be infixed or suffixed, but to prepositions they can only be suffixed (the infixed pronouns will be discussed in lesson 5, section 25; for details on the combinations of preposition plus personal pronoun -- the pronominalized prepositions -- see lesson 7, section 35). In both cases they can serve as direct or indirect objects. Most commonly, a pronoun of the third person is attached as direct object to the verbal ending of the 3rd singular absolute form of an active verb in the indicative. The forms of the suffixed personal pronouns are:

Singular   Form
1st   -um
2nd   -ut
3rd masc/ntr.   -i (-it)
3rd fem.   -us
     
Plural   Form
1st   -unn
2nd   -uib
3rd   -us

The suffixed pronouns of all persons can be used in combination with the 3rd singular absolute, present indicative, of the substantive verb (*táith) in a dative sense, to denote possession; e.g. táthut (2nd singular) 'there exists for you', i.e. 'you have'.

Apart from the 3rd singular, the only verbal forms capable of taking a suffixed pronouns are 3rd plurals in -it, 1st plurals in -mi, and the 1st singular future indicative in -a. To these, only the pronoun of the 3rd singular masculine or neuter can be attached, which then has the form -it. The pronouns of the 1st and 2nd persons are restricted to the poetic language in their use as direct object, whereas infixed pronouns have to be used in prose.