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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (April-June) » What does this mean? « Previous Next »

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Al Evans (208.188.101.145 - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 11:01 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I've been reading _A Thig Ná Tit Orm_ le Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé. Actually, I've already read it, now I'm reading it again with a realtime translation to English for my wife. I find this an excellent way to make sure I know what every word means.

Toward the end of the book, Maidhc is working at Sears Roebuck in Chicago. The time is about 1960. He has just been hired, and is assigned to work with a black man, George. He's talking about George, as he gets to know him.

"Nuair a chuireas aithne cheart ar George fuaireas amach gur duine bocht le Dia am ea é agus ná raibh sé ar an saol seo ach chun peana an tsinsir a chúiteamh."

In English, I read this as:

"When I became better acquainted with George, I found out that he was one of God's poor, and that he was only on this world to repay the sins of his ancestors."

(That's not intended to be a word for word translation, just how I would express the same thought in English.)

If I've got that wrong, please let me know. If I've got it right, well, what does it MEAN?

I'm familiar with the concept of original sin, which seems to be involved, and with the idea that the "sins of the fathers are visited on the sons". But I feel like I'm missing something, and that the statement must mean either more or, maybe, less than I'm reading into it.

--Al Evans

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Al Evans (208.188.101.145 - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 11:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

"...am ea é..."

Urk, typo:

"...ab ea é..."

--Al Evans

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Phil (159.134.209.122 - 159.134.209.122)
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 02:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It means it was never intended for him to ever have any prosperity in life. It was decided long ago that he would have to suffer and make-up for what his ancestors did. So first of all, he has to be poor.

'Sé sin mo thuairimse

-Phil

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Aonghus (159.134.62.177 - 159.134.62.177)
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 04:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Duine le Dia" means someone who is simple minded.
Does that make the sentence clearer?
I don't think I have that particular book of Maidhc Dainíns or I'd look it up myself

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Al Evans (208.188.101.145 - 208.188.101.145)
Posted on Sunday, June 01, 2003 - 10:24 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks, Phil and Aonghus.

Phil, I agree with you about what the author is saying. My problem is that he gives no indication why he thinks this, or what it has to do with the story. I've never seen an author say anything like this, without an explanation, in English, French, or Russian.

So I'm assuming that maybe it means more than I think. For example, maybe it identifies or labels a particular group of people under some metaphysical system, so that other people who know the system understand the label. Or, maybe it means less than I think, and is just some sort of conventional phrase, like "buiochas le Dia" in most of its uses, that only seems odd when read literally by a non-Irish reader.

Aonghus, that is the SORT of meaning I had in mind, but it doesn't seem to apply here. The author doesn't speak of the person in question as though he were simple-minded. He seems to respect and admire George as someone who does well in a difficult environment (i.e., being black in Chicago in 1960).

Thanks again to both of you.

--Al Evans

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