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The purpose of this forum is to provide a place for people who are interested in the Irish language and various Celtic languages to discuss them, to practice them, and to share information about them, particularly (but not exclusively) in the context of traditional music and culture.

This is not a "translation forum," per se, though translation requests may occasionally be honored at the discretion of the moderators. If you're seeking a one-time translation for something like a tattoo, engraving, wedding vow, or other such purpose, we strongly recommend that you visit our friends at ILF: http://irishlearner.awyr.com



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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 3:46 pm 
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MTGuru wrote:
izzarina wrote:
You also have to remember that Irish was the language the Republicans used primarily when speaking to one another

Really?? I find that generalization very hard to believe, Izz, especially by the 70s; that Republican partisans would be any more fluent in Irish than the general population outside the Gaeltacht, and not communicate primarily in English - except for the "I have a little Irish" sort of thing that allows for demonstrating a badge of identity, and occasional code switching. Especially among rank and file, not early leadership enthusiasts of the Gaelic League, etc. And in the North, where there was no general Irish language education, which doesn't lead to the kind of fluency you're implying anyway. I'd like to know your sources or evidence to change my mind.


Irish was the language of choice because it wasn't widely known by the English. They spoke it to one another so they wouldn't be understood. I'll look up references for you, though, MT. Give me a bit on that one....dinner time here.

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 4:10 pm 
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Thanks, Red, that's closer to what I thought.

I spent time back in the 70s working with Chicano activist groups of mostly young adults. And the language situation was instructive, vis-à-vis Spanish. They were mostly English speakers primarily, with very poor or rough Spanish, picked up at home, or indifferent classes, or in casual social ways. Lots of slang, catch phrases, etc., and few were fully fluent. But to the extent that a person could code switch even a little, it was definitely an overt badge of identity. More important, I think, was being able to show one's comfort level around the language, regardless of ability. And I'll wager Irish functioned much the same way in Republican circles.

izzarina wrote:
Irish was the language of choice because it wasn't widely known by the English. They spoke it to one another so they wouldn't be understood.

Yeah, there's the secret language thing, too. In prison, mixed public settings, etc. But at some point, instrumentality and fluent communication is more important when you're planning a raid or building a bomb. :-)

And I'd think the problem outgroup was not the English, except those serving in the military; but rather British authorities, and non-sympathetic Irish and Ulster Irish on either side of the border. Especially in the Republic, where speaking Irish is no guarantee of secrecy anyway.

Sure, if you've got pointers, especially on line, I'll take 'em!

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 4:42 pm 
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I am unable to find something that would substantiate what I said above, so I'll drop it and apologize for the 'generalization". It is something I've read a few times in various Irish history books, but I can't seem to find anything to support the claims via the internet. I'm sure I'm not punching in the right words or something...either that or I didn't read what I thought I read (which isn't too far fetched given the fact I read these things quite some time ago).

So consider my above post retracted, and I am sorry for the confusion.

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 5:03 pm 
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That's OK, Izz. I'm not trying to bust your chops. Yours is an interesting point to raise, whether it's strictly accurate or not. Sociolinguistics is one of my "areas", and I get fussy about the details.

I remember the IRA activism in Cambridge, Mass. back in the 70s during the Troubles. Centered around places like The Plough and the Stars pub near Central Square, and The Celtic Realms in Harvard Square. And my casual impression was that there was a lot of "identity Irish" going on, and not a lot of fluency.

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 5:50 pm 
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In some ways, yes. In others, well...let's just say that grammar and pronunciation points get argued endlessly among Irish speakers, and what might have not been considered good grammar by some Irish speakers was (and is) actually perfectly acceptable.

Redwolf

Nanohedron wrote:
Redwolf wrote:
I do know that Irish was the language of choice among the hunger strikers (they didn't always have good Irish, but they used whatever they did have out of preference).

I am informed (Rightly? Wrongly?) that a good deal of this was as best as they could do without knowing much in the way of grammar or pronunciation, so it sort of became an Irish-related patois in its own right and was termed "Gaolic" (pronounced "Jail-ic", for those of you who don't read British English well. :wink: ). Jocular, in a dark sort of way.

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Redwolf wrote:
...let's just say that grammar and pronunciation points get argued endlessly among Irish speakers...


OK, of this thread so far, I am lead to think:

1) that argument about Irish grammar and pronunciation could be near endless.

2) that argument about Ireland and Northern Ireland could be near endless.

and 3) that argument about being Irish and non-Irish could be near endless.

Therefore, I gather that being Irish and being argumentative could largely be synonymous.


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 6:57 pm 
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Cork, this is one of those cases where the reasoning is fatally flawed ... Yet somehow you come to exactly the right conclusion.

:lol:

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 12:52 am 
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In all honesty, in my recent virtual tour of Ireland I also saw some signs that tensions apparently are easing, in a number of ways.

Yet, apparently some tensions do exist, and so I apparently could do well to be aware of them, and to tread lightly.

As I was saying, it's not just about learning the mechanics of a language, but about its culture, too.

Meanwhile, I've got a pile of homework to do!


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 4:24 pm 
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Update:

About Irish, let me first say that I've never encountered such an embroiled language to learn! Gaeltacht, Galltacht, there is argument at virtually every aspect.

However, it was also said that there are many who could talk about learning Irish, but that few actually do.

So, and with that reminder, I'm back to my homework, thank you.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 2:51 pm 
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Update:

In these past few weeks I've discovered an unexpected degree of, well, controversy, in regard to a study of the Irish language.

For instance, it's been said that ten Irish translators could give ten different transcriptions of the language. In short, hold off on that tattoo!

However, I've also discovered that there's a genuine interest in welcoming newcomers to Irish, and a genuine willingness to help such newcomers.

But, there seem to be some inviolable rules. 1) First, do your homework. 2) Then, feel free to ask intelligent questions, as based on your homework. 3) Otherwise, keep your Internet mouth shut, or, 4) Be prepared to be thoroughly trampled upon, in fact, there indeed are experts who could either assist you, or who could flay you, and they will not hesitate to flay you to the bone.

So, the apparent recipe of learning Irish involves doing your homework, and then asking intelligent questions.

Fortunately, the Internet helps to make that challenge relatively easy.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 5:36 pm 
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For the first, do you really mean "transcription" or do you mean "translation"? As with all languages, there can be many ways to express a particular idea in Irish. There's rarely "one true way" to translate something something...and typically, the more cryptic the request, the harder it is to translate. Very, very rarely is there any kind of one-for-one correspondence between Irish and English. And when you throw in the idioms, well...there's a good reason why we ask people to wait for three to be in agreement before proceeding with anything permanent.

To see it another way, let's try translating something from Irish to English. How about the much-abused "go n-éirí an bóthar leat":

One person might see that and try to translate it literally (in fact, someone has, and it's been perpetuated on just about every Irish-themed plaque and tea towel since, which makes Irish speakers cringe): "May the road rise with you." Ouch. Literally correct, but factually wrong.

The trouble is, while the words may say that if taken individually, that's not what they actually mean. When the verb "éirigh" is combined with the preposition "le," the meaning changes. It becomes "succeed." So another, more learned person, will come along and translate it as "may your road succeed." That's closer...certainly more correct than "may the road rise with you"! But it's not quite perfect.

Someone else may come along, though, and say "That really doesn't make sense in English. How can a road "succeed"? A better way to translate that would be "may your journey be successful."

Another will come along and say "well, actually, idiomatically, that phrase is akin to "bon voyage." So that's how I'd translate it."

And still another will come along and say "ah c'mon lads...it just means 'good luck'".

The problem is that everyone (except for the first person who didn't understand about the verb/preposition combination...that one's just plain wrong) will be right.

Or to take another approach...how may different ways might there be to say "stop talking" in English?

Stop talking
Don't talk
Be quiet
Shhh
Shut up
Shut your mouth
Zip it
Keep it down
Etc.

Is it any wonder, then, that one might get many different possible translations for any give phrase?

As far as homework goes, we have a very strict homework policy. The student must make an attempt first, and post his attempt. After that, we will help him sort it out, but we won't simply do the translation for him. You ought to see the number of requests we get to translate this article or that essay for someone's Irish homework...especially at this time of year, when students who haven't put in much effort for 13 years are suddenly confronted with their final exams. Kids (and parents) who have been willing to work with us on this have learned a lot (and it's a very satisfying thing for us to work with them as well, even though it can take a lot more of our time than simply translating the work would take), but those who just whine and say "c'mon...Irish is hard...translate it for me pleeeaasse!" aren't going to get much satisfaction out of us.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:13 am 
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Transcription vs. translation.

I used the term transcription simply because much of the Internet is a medium of the written word. For instance, if I ask a written question, to translate, and then receive a written answer, it's both a transcription and a translation. However, if I ask the same question while in the physical company of another person, their verbal answer would be a translation, and not a transcription.

Come to think of it, from now on I'll just stick with translation. ;-)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:49 am 
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i find this book to have been very illuminating:

http://www.amazon.com/Who-Needs-Irish-R ... 1853907774

it's called who needs irish. it's a collection of various essays about the use of irish in every day life, as well as the struggles to speak it and the setbacks from all sides. all of the essayists view the irish language as an essential part of their daily life and identity.

i cant seem to track it down for a reasonable price. i bought it when it was first published.

if you have a library card in the states, it seems you can borrow it:

http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54779628?tab=details

(repeat after me: interlibrary loan is my friend).

my favorite quote from the book (off the top of my head) goes something like this: tg4 is like making a tv station for your 90 your old mother to watch while she dies.

one of the most illuminating stories was the struggles of setting up gaelscoileanna, and the increasing regulation which inhibits the creation of new schools and jeopardizes the movement as a whole. this story has had a very strong effect on me, and has influenced me far beyond my views of a minority language in a foreign culture.

i strongly recommend this book, as it helps you really understand what a unique situation the irish speaking culture of ireland is.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:53 am 
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avanutria wrote:
So yes, I have a basic understanding of Spanish, and if they offered that on a survey I could tick the box.


I used to say of my command of french that, "I know a (few) thousand nouns, a hundred verbs, and one verb-tense."

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:42 am 
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daiv wrote:
i find this book to have been very illuminating:

http://www.amazon.com/Who-Needs-Irish-R ... 1853907774

it's called who needs irish. it's a collection of various essays about the use of irish in every day life, as well as the struggles to speak it and the setbacks from all sides. all of the essayists view the irish language as an essential part of their daily life and identity.

i cant seem to track it down for a reasonable price. i bought it when it was first published.



Thanks for that. There are several used copies at Amazon.co.uk for under 20 pounds. Think I'll grab one while I can!

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