The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2002 (January-June) » Aonghus, three small questions (más é do thoil é) « Previous Next »

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Alan Ó hAoire ( -
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 01:18 am:   Edit Post Print Post

a Aonghus,
I have been trying to disect your corrected versions to understand the grammer behind them, but I've encountered a few roadblocks. If you have a minute, would you be able to give me as literal a translation as possible for the following:

In this sentence I am unable to understand the usage of the words "darbh" agus "as", Collins provided the meanings but I do not understand how they apply to this particular sentence:

Tá deirfiúr amháin agam, darbh ainm Ciarraí as deartháir, Nioclás.

This sentence has me a bit confused as well, I get the jist of it, but I would really like to understand the wording. I am reading it as "I am learning Irish for a year/with a year?" When does "le" act as "for", and how does Táim... convey the "I have been"? Could you translate it literally for me as well?

Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge le bliain anuas,...

These are probably extremely simple sentences, but I haven't been exposed to their particular grammer yet. I am still using Collins as my main dictionary, which might be the problem as they are pretty sparse in providing contextual examples. Ah, if only I had an Irish speaker living in my closet whom I could consult daily on these things. Please bear with me, I am stuck with no local speakers available to discuss the language with, it makes for quite the difficult journey.


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Aonghus ( -
Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 07:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

>>Tá deirfiúr amháin agam, darbh ainm Ciarraí as deartháir, Nioclás.

Alan - simple typing error here "as" should be "agus", sorry.
>>Tá deirfiúr amháin agam, darbh ainm Ciarraí, agus deartháir, Nioclás.

is what it should say

darbh ainm Ciarraí - whose name is.

>>Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge le bliain anuas,

Alan, this is where my lack of grammatical terminology is going to make the going rough!
This sentence means:-
That you are learning Irish on an ongoing basis, and have been doing so for a year now.

Perhaps somebody else will be able to explain it to you with the correct terms. I only speak Irish ;-).

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ÓMurchú (
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 12:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

of course Aonghus is correct, but I find it useful to formulate a literal translation sometimes so,

"Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge" = "I am at learning Irish."

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Aonghus ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 03:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Uí Mhuirchú
Seachnaím fhéin "literal translation" toisc go gcuireann sé in iúl go bhfuil an Ghaeilge "quaint" agus casta.
Creidim (go láidir) gur ceart Béarla mhaith a dhéanamh a chuir ar Gaeilge mhaith, seachas Celtic Twilightery.

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Alan Ó hAoire ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 02:03 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Go raibh maith agaibh, I've only a bit of time free here and there to put to my studies right now as I am trying to get things ready to move over to Ireland, as well as work, etc. I really appreciate the aid you have all given me. Soon I will be able to put quite a bit more time to it, especially if I get into some schooling there.

I've been printing your responses and reviewing them at home, I apologize if it seems I am not working very hard. The computer I am using here is a workstation PC and I've only a short time to use it, and often I am unable to respond within that time. I'm also doing quite a bit of reading into Irish politics/history, I'm into 5 different books right now, and as I'm sure you all understand that is definately one area where information is plentiful. All in all I'm quite busy.

Just another wee question: In the "Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge" = "I am at learning Irish", does the "ag" constitute "at" in this case as well as providing the "-ing" on "foghlaim"? and is this commonly the case with "ag" when used to add the "ing" onto the verb?

whew.. I hope that question doesn't sound too confused,

Buíochas arís,

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Seosamh ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 01:52 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

'Foghlaim' here is a verbal noun, which is frequently used in Irish, being the equivalent of both the English infinitive and present participle. After 'ag' ('at') it is the equivalent of the English present participle: Tá sé ag ól fíona. He is drinking wine. Tá sí ag foghlaim Béarla. She is learning English.

I think that taking the construction literally is useful primarily in understanding why a direct object cannot follow the verbal noun, as one does following the equivalent word in English. 'Fíona' and 'Béarla' in the above sentences are in the genitive case: 'He is at drinking of wine' and 'She is at learning of English'. A verbal noun -- being a noun -- could not take an object.

You also could not literally translate a pronoun object in such sentences as: He is putting it on the table. In Irish you would say 'Tá sé á chur ar an mbord' (literally, 'he is at its putting on the table'). That example, by the way, assumes a masculine object like a bowl (babhla or babhal), plate (pláta), fork (forc). If a feminine noun were involved, like spúnóg or spáin ('spoon'), then the sentence would be 'Tá sé á cur ar an mbord'. With a plural object of either (or mixed) gender like silíní ('cherries') it would be 'Tá sé á gcur ar an mbord' ('He is to their putting on the table').

Most learners pronounce sentences like 'Tá sí ag rith' as 'TAH SHAY egg RIH', using the basic pronunciation of 'ag' that they have perhaps already learned. That is okay for formal language, and many competent, habitual speakers of Irish outside the Gaeltacht normally pronounce it that way. But the usual pronunciation of native speakers is 'TAH SHAY uh RIH' ('uh' = the vowel sound in the English word 'the'). (I'm using an informal pronunciation scheme here and ignoring dialectal variations of the other words in the sentence.) If the verbal noun starts with a vowel, however, you must use the 'egg' pronunciation: TAH SHAY egg OAL, Tá sé ag ól.

Don't go overboard on grammar and syntax. Learning a language involves multiple elements. Follow any special inclinations you might have (songs, grammar, pronunciation, reading, verbs, vocabulary, conversation), but try to keep a balanced approach overall.

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S. Nic Rabhartaigh ( -
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2002 - 04:17 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge le bliain anuas"

Alan, Seosamh has given you a scholarly analysis of the function of the verbal noun in Irish. I applaud him for it!

"le bliain anuas" in this sentence means literally( sorry Aonghus)
"with/for one year down"

"le" here roots the beginning of an action ( the learning of Irish) in the past but lets that action extend into the present " for one year"

It is frequently used to denote the passge of time:

mar shampla:

Táim ag freastáil ar an Ollscoil le dhá bhliain anúas.

Táim ag léamh an páipéar nuachtáin le hocht mbliana anúas.

( Hopefully people will understand it's not the same newspaper! Perhaps it would be better to insert the name of a newspaper here in this example....)

Beir bua agus beannacht,

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