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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2002 (January-June) » Usage question(s), verbal nouns « Previous Next »

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Al Evans (tbtm.org - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 11:29 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hey, this worked once (thanks!! Tom Pullman), so I think I'll try again.

I'm having a hard time telling the difference between two similar usages of verbal nouns. For example (these are all from Nancy Stenson's worksheets for Mícháel Ó Siadhail's _Learning Irish_, lesson 15):

Tá an fear ag saothrú páí.
Cé mhead páí atá sé ag saothrú? .. or ..
Cé mhead páí atá sé a shaothrú?

These both seem correct to me, but the second is given as the "correct answer". What am I failing to understand here?

Or...

"Ná bí ag ithe an iomarca anocht, nó beidh tú tinn amáireach", versus "Ná bí an iomarca a ithe..."

"Tháinig sé anseo ag díol caoirigh", versus "tháinig sé anseo caoirigh a dhíol."

"Tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh dhá fhoglaim", versus "tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh é a fhoghlaim."

It seems to me that the only difference is whether the progressive nature of the action is emphasized. Am I completely off-base?

Thanks very much in advance,

Al Evans

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Al Evans (tbtm.org - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 09:17 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well, I figure out the answer for the first one. It has to be "Cé mhead páí atá sé a shaothrú?" because "páí’" is the direct object of "shaothrú".

But I still don't see much difference in meaning in the other three:-)

Al Evans

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Seosamh Mac Bhloscaidh (nyf-ny6-35.rasserver.net - 206.216.76.35)
Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 01:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

1. "Ná bí ag ithe an iomarca anocht, nó beidh tú tinn amáireach", versus "Ná bí an iomarca a ithe..."

The first one is correct; the second incorrect. Literally, don't be at eating [of] too much tonight, or you will be sick tomorrow. You could also say, Ná hith an iomarca anocht, ... In Irish, people have a certain tendency to use the equivalent of the English present progressive when we wouldn't use the progressive at all in English.

2. "Tháinig sé anseo ag díol caoirigh"

This would mean "He came here selling sheep [all along the way, perhaps]." I'm asuming that's not what you wanted to say. (Also "caoirigh" should really be in the genitive plural "caorach".)

versus "tháinig sé anseo caoirigh a dhíol."

This is closer to what I think you want to say, namely, "He came here [in order] to sell sheep. That would be: "tháinig sé anseo le (or, chun) caoirigh a dhíol."

3. Tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh dhá fhoglaim", versus "tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh é a fhoghlaim."

The first one means, "every one is trying to its learning." and is not right. The second is completely correct: "Every one is trying to learn it."

There are several different sentence patterns involved here, so I don't know if I can answer your question.

One pattern involves the prepostion 'ag' plus the verbal noun in the equivalent of progressive tenses in English. These require the object to follow the v.b. and be in the genitive case (making allowance, of course, for the dislike of the genitive case in Conamara Irish):

Tá siad ag ól beorach. They are drinking beer. ("at drinking of beer"; beorach < beoir)
Bhídís ag ól bláthaí i gcónaí sa bhaile sa samhradh. They always used to be drinking buttermilk at home in the summer.
(bláthaí < bláthach)
Beidh siad ag baint na bprátaí amárach. (Conamara: Beidh siad ag baint na bhfátaí amáireach) They'll be digging the potatoes tomorrow.

When the verbal noun is used where we would use the infinitive in English, the object is put in front of the v.b. (preceded by the preposition 'a' (which lenites the verbal noun):

Ba mhaith leo an teach a dhíol. They would like to sell the house.
Ní raibh sí sásta rud ar bith a cheannach uaim. She wasn't willing to buy anything from me.
Chuaigh sé go dtí oifig a' phoist lena chuid poist a fháil. He went to the post office to get his mail.

Your "Cé mhéad ... " sentence also involves an object that precedes the v.b. (and which is also preceded by 'a' and lenited).

The verbal noun is important in Irish, so it's worthwhile giving it special attention.

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Al Evans (tbtm.org - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 - 04:24 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you very much, Seasamh, for your explanation.

Hesitantly, I request one clarification:-)

3. Tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh dhá fhoglaim", versus "tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh é a fhoghlaim."

The first one means, "every one is trying to its learning." and is not right. The second is completely correct: "Every one is trying to learn it."



The second was my answer, the first was the one given in the answers for the worksheet. It seems to be consonant with the examples given in Ó Siadhail, e.g., "Tá sé dhá bhualadh," "He is hitting him/it."

So is this a question of dialect, of usage, or are the two examples different in a way I don't see?

Thanks again for the help,

Al Evans

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Seosamh Mac Bhloscaidh (nyf-ny2-124.rasserver.net - 207.93.56.124)
Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 12:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post

No, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. This gets sticky. First, I don't think these two sentences are parallel.

The equivalent to "Tá sé dhá bhualadh," would be "Tá sé dhá fhoghlaim." He is learning it -- as long as the subject is masculine -- like Béarla. Likely subjects would mostly be feminine: matamaitic, ceimic, fisic, Fraincis, ríomhaireacht (computing), Spáinnis, Sínis, ealaín (art), innealtóireacht (engineering), etc., giving: "Tá sé [dh]á foghlaim."

"Tá 'chuile dhuine ag iarraidh dhá fhoglaim," is not the same pattern -- you have an intervening verbal noun. I am sure that "Tá chuile dhuine ag iarraidh é a fhoghlaim" is correct. It is parallel to the following sentence from that same Lesson l5 of Learning Irish: Nuair a bhí mise óg, dhá mbeadh posta ag fear óg, bheadh sé ag iarraidh é a choinneál". (When I was young, if a young man had a job, he would try to keep it.)

That other version doesn't sit right with me but you may have put your finger on the problem when you mention dialect. But as I understand it, the "dhá" in Conamara is equivalent to "á" in the standard and in other dialects, i.e., it combines the prepostion "a" with a pronoun object.

In contrast, a simple "a" in front of a verbal noun does not incorporate an object, but it does call for careful attention. It can indicate purpose, in which case it is lenited (if possible) and in speech sounds like one or two sentences above with the preposition "ag". Here are two examples from Ulster Irish:

Tháinig sé anseo a cheannach(t) mónadh =
Tháinig sé anseo le móin a cheannach(t)
He came to buy turf.

And:

Chuaigh sé an aonaigh a dhíol na bó. =
Chuaigh sé an aonaigh leis an bhó a dhíol.
or sometimes,
Chuaigh sé an aonaigh chun an bhó a dhíol.
He went to the fair to sell the cow.

This is awfully close to your second sentence above (about the sheep).

Ádh mór.
Seosamh

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