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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (January-March) » English to irish « Previous Next »

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john (213.202.162.226 - 213.202.162.226)
Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2003 - 03:52 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I hear that it is difficult in certain occasions to translate english to Irish as sometimes when a phrase is translated directly it makes no sense in Irish...is this true? if so could i see some examples?

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James (199.112.57.105 - 199.112.57.105)
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 03:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia Dhuit A Shean, agus failte,

Yes, it is absolutely true. I'm a veritable neophyte so my examples will be basic. Some of the fluent and native speakers can give you some real doozies. It actually works both ways, though. Irish to english and english to Irish--it isn't always (actually, almost never is) word for word.

1) An bhfuil gaeilge agat? Understood to mean "Do you speak Irish?" but often translated as "Do you have Irish" but literally translated "Is Irish at you?"

Turning this around:

2) "Do you speak Irish?" Word for word this would probably look something like "Cáinte tú gaeilge?" (My conjugation is probably off but as this isn't correct anyway that part becomes moot). From an Irish speaker's persepective this would probably sound as rediculous as "Is Irish at you" sounds to us.

You'll get some more examples I'm sure but this is the one that jumps immediately to my mind.

Le meas,

James

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Maidhc Ó G. (65.128.200.193 - 65.128.200.193)
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James, a chara,
You've given a fairly good and simple example in english and also a HUGE example in your attempted translation 'isteach Gaeilge'.
At face value, "Cáinte tú Gaeilge?" is gibberish. You may have meant "cainte", but even still, that would be the gen. used as adj. form of the noun 'caint'(speech). - cainte(oral)
"Cáinte", on the other hand, I think, would be the vb.adj.(condemned?) of cáin(penalize, condemn, fine). My foclóir shows it also to be the gen.sing. of cáineadh(nm. condemnation).
Whew! So, depending on which you actually were to SAY to an Irish speaker - "(Cáinte or cainte) tú Gaeilge?", - by the inflection of your voice indicating a question, they can mistake you as to be asking if they are condemning the Irish language (Cáinte) or if they may be oral in Gaeilge (Wha-?!) or that you've had WAY too many pints. (Yeeahh, that's the ticket! LOL)
Now, if you were to ask, "An laibhar tú Gaeilge?", this may be understood as "Do you speak Irish?". But, I think it may also mean, "Do you EVER (choose to?) speak Irish, along with the implications of Where?, With whom?, Why? - rather than if they have the ability.
Of course, I could be wrong. (Just look at the hammering I get from my other posts. LOL!)
-Maidhc.

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Phil (159.134.209.56 - 159.134.209.56)
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 02:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

First of all, "caint", there's now such verb. It's purely a noun. You use the verb "labhair" in its place.

Example: "He talks the talk but does he walk the walk"

Why was the word "walk" chosen? Because it rhymes with "talk". Not in Gaeilge it doesn't.

In Gaeilge, you can say "Happiness is on me", "Love is at me", "Anger is on me", and it's perfect grammar. Doesn't sound too well in English.

There's much more things in Gaeilge that can't be translated into English properly.

"Scéal atá á noctadh aige"

That isn't straight forward when putting into English, yet it is pefect grammar in Gaeilge.

It's the same with every language.

-Phil

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James (199.112.58.37 - 199.112.58.37)
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 03:36 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

The big question is, did we give John what he was looking for? I'd say that's a resounding yes, all the way around.

I knew that Cainte thing was off, but like I said, it's not comprehended by native speakers which therefore renders the grammatical error a moot point.

I'd be interested in some other examples, especially idomatic expressions that mean total gibberish in english but are perfectly eloquent in Irish.

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Phil (159.134.209.91 - 159.134.209.91)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 06:54 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The sayings and phrases differ alot.

English "There's no place like home"

Gaeilge "Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin"

which means "There's no fireplace like your own fireplace"

-

I still haven't really figured out the use of "i gceist" in Gaeilge.

Cad a bhí i gceist acu?

What did they have in question? Doesn't make much sense to me

-

The way I work when I'm translating Gaeilge to English, or vice versa, is that I first convert the sentence into a thought (wow gettin' technical here!) and then into the other language.

"Scéal atá á noctadh aige"

"It is a story which is being revealed at him"

But in my mind, I go straight to "It's a story he's revealing".

Same with "He only ate one cake", "Níor ith sé ach cáca amháin". My mind doesn't think "He didn't eat but one cake".

-Phil

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Phil (159.134.209.91 - 159.134.209.91)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 06:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

"I knew that Cainte thing was off, but like I said, it's not comprehended by native speakers which therefore renders the grammatical error a moot point" -James

What exactly do you mean by that. When I saw the error, I immediately noticed that it was an error but still I knew what was trying to be said.

In case anyone's in doubt:

caint = talk (noun)
An chaint = the talk
Ag caint = talking ( or "at the talk" )

-

"Seán was talking to Jerry"

"Bhí Seán ag labhairt le Jerry".

Labhair = speak (verb)
Labhairt = speech/speaking (noun)
Ag labhairt = speaking


-Phil

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Phil (159.134.209.91 - 159.134.209.91)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 07:01 am:   Edit Post Print Post

One more thing

"Do you speak Irish"

forget for the moment that it's really "An bhfuil an Ghaeilge agat?"


You said "Cainte tú Gaeilge":

which should have been "An labhraíonn tú an Ghaeilge?"

If you leave out the "An", you've got "You speak Irish?", which is a proper question, but might not always be understood in some contexts. For example "You took the bike?", "No, I didn't take the bike, why accuse me!?"


-Phil

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Maidhc Ó G. (65.128.204.177 - 65.128.204.177)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 08:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Excellent points, Phil. I'd also thought of "An labhríonn tú Gaeilge?", but took a more literal approach to the question.
I, too, have a tendency to first, think of what I'm going to 'try' to say, and then 'attempt' to visualize and say it in the new language. Try to put myself in the other person's shoes, so to speak. Your example of, "Scéal atá á noctadh aige.", worked well for me here. At first, I had mistaken it for, " The story was being told 'to' him.", but after a second realized that, "....'leis'.", would be correct for this. - A quick mini-lesson in itself.
"Níor ith sé ach cáca amháin.", brought another thing to me. How poetic Gaeilge sometimes sounds when translated literally. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Aonghus has pointed out to me more than once over how "flowery" I came off by trying too hard.
As far as "i gceist", I got that straight off as "in question". "Cad a bhí i gceist acu?"- What was in question by them?, What were they questioning?
And (getting a little technical myself now) you mentioned the leaving off of "An" at the start of a question. Its part of the point I'd made over the inflection of ones voice determining the difference between statement and question. - You took the bike. vs. You took the bike?
Pretty much, the only thing I didn't think jived was your comparison of "..no fireplace...your own". I felt it was quite similar to the "..no place like...".
Anyhow, mostly very good, go deimhin.
Le meas,
Maidhc.

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James (199.112.58.34 - 199.112.58.34)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 09:07 am:   Edit Post Print Post

My point with cainte was precisely that it is wrong...regardless that I didn't use labhraíonn. What I was trying to illustrate was an example of how a direct word for word translation gets confusing. That, after all, is what this post was all about in the first place! If you'll read my initial response you'll see that I offered "An bhfuil Gaeilge agat?"...so I left off the definite article and the subsequent and requisite lenition....my point was that word for word translations don't work well in Irish. That's what John was asking about. Honestly, Phil, you've taken all the fun out of it. I'm really glad that Irish is so simple for you. Perhaps if I had been educated in a formal setting with immersion on my back doorstep I'd be able to respond in a manner that meets with your approval. Unfortunately, I've been slugging away at it, by myself, at home, with books and tapes and this site for nearly 2 years. Hell, right now I'm not even in the freakin' states. I'm living out of a flippin' duffel bag in some god-forsaken litter box of a country.

This used to be a really fun site with a nurturing, tutorial atmosphere. Now, it's like I'm in Catholic school just waiting for the Nun to crack me across the knuckles. Where did the old crowd that loved Irish and loved teaching it go?? Where did these freakin' guardians of the "true and righteous gaeilge" come from??

Gan meas,

James

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Maidhc Ó G. (65.128.208.58 - 65.128.208.58)
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 10:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

OK then. Right. Back to the original point of the matter. Something that just doesn't translate at all well into English from an idiomatic Gaelge phrase.
One I thought of was "Cad é mar atá tú féin?" Some how, this seems almost existentialistic to a fairly simple queston. My first try at putting it directly into English comes off as "What's it like being yourself?" instead of the simple "How are you (yourself)?"
Ther's got to be one that's really off the wall though.
-Maidhc.

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Phil (159.134.209.36 - 159.134.209.36)
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 07:23 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Cad a mharaigh an madra?

What killed the dog?

There's a little word left out there:

Cad é a mharaigh an madra?

Now you see it means "What is it that killed the dog", or "What killed the dog".

"Cad é mar atá tú féin?"

mar = because, like, as

What is it like yourself is.
What is yourself like.

-Phil

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Brian T (209.130.218.157 - 209.130.218.157)
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 12:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Cén chaoi a ndéarfá ‘what did the dog kill?’

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Spíd (193.122.47.178 - 193.122.47.178)
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 12:26 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

‘what did the dog kill?’

Cad a mharaigh an madra?

or

Cad ata maraithe ag na madra?

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Brian T (209.130.221.222 - 209.130.221.222)
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 01:44 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Spíd,
Cad ata maraithe ag na madra?
Déarfainn go bhfuil sé sin mícheart mar gheall ar “ag na madra” Tagairt at shampla Phil shuas a bhí i gceist agam.

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Phil (159.134.209.224 - 159.134.209.224)
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 02:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Brain T, that's a fantastic question. It's one which I have wanted to know the answer to for about 2 years, but I can't seem to get the answer ANYWHERE, not from a grammar book, a teacher or anyone here.

"Cad a mharaigh an madra"

According to almost everyone who's fluent in Gaeilge, that means both "What killed the dog" and "What did the dog kill". But I wasn't satisifed with that, it's far too ambiguous; I wanted a proper way of doing it. I think this is the official way:

"What killed the dog?"

Cad a mharaigh an madra?

"What did the dog kill?"

Cad gur mharaigh an madra

-

And other tenses:

"What kills the dog?"

Cad a mharaíonn an madra?

"What does the dog kill?"

Cad go maraíonn an madra?

-

But every book I read or article always use the first one, regardless of which it means.

-

"Cad atá maraithe ag an madra" = "What has the dog killed"

ag an madra

ag na madraí


-Phil

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Sinéad (195.152.239.252 - 195.152.239.252)
Posted on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A phrase I have always found odd is when people say "Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam" (may God rest his soul) about a recently deceased. Literally it means "on the right hand of God was his soul". Should it not be "Go mbeidh" or "Bíodh" ar dheis Dé a anam?

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Maidhc Ó G. (65.128.208.4 - 65.128.208.4)
Posted on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 12:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm prety sure that "was" and "have been" are the same i nGaeilge. So that phrase can also be understood as "On the right side of God had been his soul." - May his soul had been on the right side of God. (While he was still alive, so that he will find peace now that he is not.)

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john (194.165.171.79 - 194.165.171.79)
Posted on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

i was actually looking for examples of english to irish rather than irish to english. i heard you cant translate things directly from english to irish sometimes as sometimes you have to make slight alterations, is this true? any examples?

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Phil (159.134.209.204 - 159.134.209.204)
Posted on Monday, May 26, 2003 - 04:48 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Go raibh maith agat" = Thank you

It does NOT mean "That you had good".

It means "May you have good".


-


Go raibh a anam = "May his soul"

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam = "On God's right hand may his soul be"


-

"On God's right hand was his soul" :

This would be written like this

"Ba é ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam"

If you leave out the "ba é", then you leave out the emphasis; if you leave out the emphasis, the sentence is invalid. Without the emphasis, it would be:

"Bhí a anam ar dheis Dé"

So there's no ambiguity at all with the sentence

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam"

-


Bhí athás air = "He was happy"


"He has been happy"

I'm not sure about this at all. This is a Q for Aonghous. I think it would be a variation of these two sentences though:

Bhíodh athás air = "He used to be happy"

Bhí beith atháis air

I'm not sure about that one at all.

-


"i heard you cant translate things directly from english to irish sometimes as sometimes you have to make slight alterations, is this true? any examples?" -John

That's probably the first question answered in interpretor school.

For example

"He was happy"

could be translated into:

"Bhí áthas air"

or

"Bhí sé áthasach"

Both of which are exactly equal to "He was happy"


-Phil

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Sinéad (195.152.239.252 - 195.152.239.252)
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 07:02 am:   Edit Post Print Post

GRMA Maidhc agus Phil.

John,

One example that occurs to me is that you cannot directly translate "he committed suicide" into Irish. You can say 'Mharaigh sé é féin' (he killed himself) but it is much more common to say 'Thóg sé lámh ina bháis fhéin' (he took a hand in his own death), which when you think about is a much more sensitive and intelligent way to put it.

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Maidhc Ó G. (65.128.204.206 - 65.128.204.206)
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 10:29 am:   Edit Post Print Post

In lesson #6 of Ó Siadhail"s "Learning Irish", it says," In the verb tá, there is no distinction between a preterite 'was' and a pluperfect 'had been'. A perfect meaning can be expresed by using the present, e.g. Tá Cáit anseo seachtain anois 'Cáit is/has been here a week now'."
So by this, I would think that 'bhí' could be used for the past pluperfect 'was/had been'.
Bhí sé áthasach. He was/had been happy.
-Maidhc.

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Phil (159.134.209.200 - 159.134.209.200)
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 01:22 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Is there any fluent people here that know for sure?

-Phil

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Aonghus (159.134.62.177 - 159.134.62.177)
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 04:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam" is the Modh Foshuiteach, a special mood of the verb in Irish used to wish something.
The usual way to translate it is "May his soul be at God's right hand"

In answer to John's original question:
You can't translate word from word from any language into another without frequently having a very odd result.
The most noticeable difference between English and Irish is that a Yes or No answer to a question is not possible in Irish: the answer must use the verb used in the question.

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shay (213.202.164.56 - 213.202.164.56)
Posted on Sunday, June 01, 2003 - 04:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

i think i know what you mean John and a good example is seen with emotions

for example in English you would say 'He is angry'
in Irish you would say 'Tá fearg air' which actually means there is sadness on him.

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shay (213.202.164.56 - 213.202.164.56)
Posted on Sunday, June 01, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

sorry 'Tá fearg air' means there is anger on him!

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Phil (159.134.209.53 - 159.134.209.53)
Posted on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 01:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

not really,

"Tá peann aige"

I wouldn't agree that that sentence means "A pen is at him". It means "He has a pen".

Similarly with "Tá fearg air". I wouldn't agree it means "Anger is on him". It means "He is angry".

-Phil

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Diarmuid (217.163.5.253 - 217.163.5.253)
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 11:50 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The English royal familys' motto is 'Dieu et mon droit' this is more or less the same same expression in Irish! So maybe the Normans brought it to Ireland??

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 04:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Huh? Dieu et moin droit means "God's law and mine", which is quite different to Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam!

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Diarmuid (217.163.5.253 - 217.163.5.253)
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 08:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Maybe I got my French wrong there but I it definitely means God on my right

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Risteárd (138.96.243.2 - 138.96.243.2)
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 09:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

"Dieu et mon droit" can be translated as "God AND my right", but my right here means my entitlement, my birthright (or maybe my law), but not my right as in left & right.

The problem is confusion over the French word "droit", which gives 2 different nouns (in addition to an adverb and adjective).

le droit (nm) = right, entitlement
par exemple, "être dans son droite" = to be within one's rights, "le droit" = the law.

la droite (nf) = right (note the e!)
par exemple, "à ta droite" = on your righthand side

So, Aonghus was correct, it doesn't have a link with the Irish phrase Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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Aonghus (62.77.191.130 - 62.77.191.130)
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 11:08 am:   Edit Post Print Post

cf: http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/motto.html

or
http://www.szyk.com/print/visual/bri.html

or
http://www.heraldica.org/topics/warcry.htm which says "The most famous instance is the English royal motto: Dieu et mon droit, supposedly the war-cry used at the battle of Crécy in 1346 (God and my right, i.e., to the throne of France).
"

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Brandon (66.91.187.109 - 66.91.187.109)
Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Question of Interest!

I was hoping someone could help me out with this. I have a large tatoo on my left arm of Irish heritage. And I want to place the words IRISH PRIDE in the old languages. With the Word IRISH above my shamrock and PRIDE below it. If anyone can help me spell this it would be greatly appreciated!!!
Please contact me at bl2891@hawaii.rr.com

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Fear na mBróg (159.134.103.181 - 159.134.103.181)
Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 09:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Bród na nGael

Sé sin go gcuirfinnse air.

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