Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

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Ciarán12

Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-04-16, 1:36

Hello everyone,

I have two questions that are (as far as I know) quite unrelated, but I need answers to them both, so I'll put the both in this thread.

Firstly, what does "ea" mean and when is it used? I've seen it used mostly in places I'd put "é", like "Is ea..." and such. Sorry I can't think of any examples.

Secondly, what does the "~s" on the end of verb forms like "bhíos"mean and when is it used?

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Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby linguoboy » 2012-04-16, 2:45

ciaran1212 wrote:Firstly, what does "ea" mean and when is it used? I've seen it used mostly in places I'd put "é", like "Is ea..." and such. Sorry I can't think of any examples.

It's an old neuter pronoun. This accounts for its use in the phrases "Is ea/Sea" (lit. "It is") and "Ní hea". It's most common in Munster where the usual form of copular statements like "Is tosaitheoir mé" is "Tosnóir is ea mé."

ciaran1212 wrote:Secondly, what does the "~s" on the end of verb forms like "bhíos"mean and when is it used?

In Munster, bhíos is a first-person singular form (e.g. "Do bhíos im' thosnóir" "I was a beginner"). I think in some other dialects this might represent a past tense form used only in relative clauses.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

Ciarán12

Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-04-16, 21:40

Ok, so they're both just dialectal things? Thanks.

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Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby linguoboy » 2012-04-16, 21:46

ciaran1212 wrote:Ok, so they're both just dialectal things? Thanks.

I wouldn't say ea is "dialectal". It's absolutely found in CO, just not as widely as in Munster.

Bhíos, on the other hand, is dialectal insofar as the synthetic past is rare in the Standard language (with the exception of the first-person plural), as are relative forms with final -s, if I'm not mistaken. (I'm less sure on that point since I don't use them.)
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

Ciarán12

Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-04-16, 21:58

linguoboy wrote:
ciaran1212 wrote:Ok, so they're both just dialectal things? Thanks.

I wouldn't say ea is "dialectal". It's absolutely found in CO, just not as widely as in Munster.

Bhíos, on the other hand, is dialectal insofar as the synthetic past is rare in the Standard language (with the exception of the first-person plural), as are relative forms with final -s, if I'm not mistaken. (I'm less sure on that point since I don't use them.)


I'm not entirely sure what kind of patchwork-quilt of a dialect I've cobbled together, but I would only use "ea" in the phases " 's ea" and "ní hea", although I see at around a lot, which would make sense if, as you say, it is used frequently in CO. are there any rules pertaining to how it's used in CO? And as for "bhíos", I'd never use it, and indeed I wasn't sure what it really meant until you told me. Would I be right in thinking I can avoid using it entirely? As for synthetic forms in CO, again I'm clearly no expert, but I use "táim" quite a lot as well, so for me it's not just first person plural. I tend to distinguish between "táim" and "tá mé" as I would between "I'm" and "I am" in English.

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Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby linguoboy » 2012-04-16, 22:20

ciaran1212 wrote:I'm not entirely sure what kind of patchwork-quilt of a dialect I've cobbled together, but I would only use "ea" in the phases " 's ea" and "ní hea", although I see at around a lot, which would make sense if, as you say, it is used frequently in CO. are there any rules pertaining to how it's used in CO?

I'm sure there are. I would start by looking in the Christian Brothers' grammar: http://ec.europa.eu/translation/irish/documents/christian_brothers_comprehensive_irish_grammar_ga.pdf (PDF).

ciaran1212 wrote:And as for "bhíos", I'd never use it, and indeed I wasn't sure what it really meant until you told me. Would I be right in thinking I can avoid using it entirely?

I would think so.

ciaran1212 wrote:As for synthetic forms in CO, again I'm clearly no expert, but I use "táim" quite a lot as well, so for me it's not just first person plural. I tend to distinguish between "táim" and "tá mé" as I would between "I'm" and "I am" in English.

I was speaking only of the past. Synthetic forms for other persons are encountred more frequently in some other tenses, notably the conditional.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

Ciarán12

Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-04-17, 0:12

Ok, this "ea" is quite interesting. It seems like there are quite a few usages of, but the main to I can get my head around at the moment are 1. As an "it is/isn't" answer to an "An...é/í?" question. I also saw an example that gave "..., nach ea?" at the end of a statement for confirmation, but I always use "..., nach é/í?" - is that wrong?
The second thing I thing I understand is that it can be used as an alternate copula formula - "(noun) is ea é/í" = "Is (noun) é/í". Is that right? Also, as a matter of philological interest, why in that construction is "é/í" still necessary if "ea" is a neuter pronoun? Would it mean "It he/she is a (noun)"?

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Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby linguoboy » 2012-04-17, 22:03

ciaran1212 wrote:Ok, this "ea" is quite interesting. It seems like there are quite a few usages of, but the main to I can get my head around at the moment are 1. As an "it is/isn't" answer to an "An...é/í?" question. I also saw an example that gave "..., nach ea?" at the end of a statement for confirmation, but I always use "..., nach é/í?" - is that wrong?

I couldn't say whether or not it's "wrong", I can only say that I don't recall seeing that usage before.

ciaran1212 wrote:The second thing I thing I understand is that it can be used as an alternate copula formula - "(noun) is ea é/í" = "Is (noun) é/í". Is that right? Also, as a matter of philological interest, why in that construction is "é/í" still necessary if "ea" is a neuter pronoun? Would it mean "It he/she is a (noun)"?

The short answer is that languages just don't work that way. Why is the "it" necessary in "It's him you should be asking"? That's just how we form the sentence in English. And in Irish, it is frequently the case that pronouns get repeated in copular statements, e.g. "Is é an Taoiseach é." (I think Ó Siadhail might have an explanation for how this originated; I'll have a look.)
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

Ciarán12

Re: Two Questions - "ea" and "bhíos"

Postby Ciarán12 » 2012-04-17, 22:23

linguoboy wrote: And in Irish, it is frequently the case that pronouns get repeated in copular statements, e.g. "Is é an Taoiseach é." (I think Ó Siadhail might have an explanation for how this originated; I'll have a look.)


That would have been my next question. I often see (and use) that myself. Strange.


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