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Daisy ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2002 - 11:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hey, fun board you've got here. Many things of interest to a beginning student of Irish like myself.

Quick question. A couple of months ago I had the privilege of hearing Gerry Adams speak when he was in San Francisco. He spoke mostly in English, with occasional Irish tangents (of which I understood perhaps one word in twenty). I noticed that he prefaced many sentences in both languages with the phrase "sin é". Now, I understand the literal translation of this phrase, but what I don't get is the way it was being used. It reminded me of when I was in France and every other sentence began with "donc" and I was like hey, none of my textbooks told me you guys were going to say "donc" so much. Again I knew the literal translation, just not why it was being used in the particular situation.

So is "sin é" just a filler-type thing, like saying "well" in English? Or "now", as I did a few sentences back? Or is it something else? Or perhaps this was just a speech tic particular to Mr. Adams?

Síocháin, ya'll.

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alec1 ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 02:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm not anyway sure about this but maybe if I try an answer someone else might correct me!

In manty languages (when talking) an 'introductory' word or phrase is used by the speaker to give an extra second to gather thoughts and compose a coherent statement/reply

In Ireland(english speakers) the word 'Well' is often used as the first word of a reply

e.g. Well,the reason I'm not going is beause....

There are several variations -some people use the words 'basically' to start each sentence.

Basically,the reason I'm not going is because....

These words 'Well' and 'Basically' lose their real meaning and become 'no meaning' words used as a crutch or launchpad for the rest of the sentence. Then they just become an unbreakable habit for the user.

If you told the user of these words that they use them at all times they would not believe you.

There is an Irish phrase 'sin é a rá'(that is to say) which is used when the speaker feels that the initial direction/ meaning of his words is not correct and moves to another 'tack' in mid stream.

'Sin é a rá' -can and has become one of these verbal crutches and I guess that Adams has developed the habit of using a truncated version over the years.

It has no real meaning.

Purely guess work on my part.

Sin é


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