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Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 18:15
by Peadar
Sorry for inserting a new topic, but I really don't have any idea where should I put this in :oops:

Do irish people say something like: I know what that is?
My point is at the subordinate part - what that is.

I've checked out every grammar book that's available, but, incredibly, this isn't discussed anywhere in those books.
Most clauses that you can think of are introduced, only this one can't be found.
I also searched that on the internet, but, you know what happened.

Then, a very clever idea hit me. I searched in English what I am / what you are / what he/she/it is, and found something related with the bible.(Pardon me for my lack of Christendom)

I found Phillipians 4:12-13:
Philippians 4:12-13 New International Version (NIV)
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


And I looked up its irish version in an app. It goes like this:

Filipigh 4:12 ABN
12 Tá eolas agam ar an gcaolchuid agus ar an bhflúirse. Tá seantaithí agam ar gach sórt: ar an mórdhóthain agus ar an ocras, ar an bhflúirse agus ar an ngannchuid. 13 Táim in ann gach ní a dhéanamh le cabhair an té úd a thugann neart dom.


It's literally translated like this:
12 I have the knowledge on the need and on the abundance...... .

Other irish versions don't translate it as expected, either.

So, I turned to Google translate.
I put the sentence "I know what a pig is." into the English box, and it gave me quite some choices:
(1) Tá a fhios agam cad is muc ann.
(2) Tá a fhios agam cad é muc.
(3) Tá a fhios agam céard é muc.
Number one seems to be the most used form, though, I just can't be sure about that, 'cuz, you know.

Is the sentence below syntactically right?
An rud a insíonn duit cad is Síocóis ann

I would appreciate if someone can solve this problem.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 19:09
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:So, I turned to Google translate.
I put the sentence "I know what a pig is." into the English box, and it gave me quite some choices:
(1) Tá a fhios agam cad is muc ann.
(2) Tá a fhios agam cad é muc.
(3) Tá a fhios agam céard é muc.
Number one seems to be the most used form, though, I just can't be sure about that, 'cuz, you know.

Number 1 is actually totally ungrammatical. You can't use ann with is like that.

(2) and (3) are variants of each other. (2) would be more common in Munster and (3) would be more common in Connaught. Céard is a colloquial contraction of cé an rud "what [is] the thing".

Peadar wrote:Is the sentence below syntactically right?
An rud a insíonn duit cad is Síocóis ann.

I don't actually understand what you're trying to say here.

Chapter 13 of Gramadach na Gaeilge has an explanation of this construction in the section "Miscellaneous". It's a form of indirect speech, which is pretty straightforward in Irish. The subordinate clause is constructed just like the corresponding interrogative clause:

Cad é muc? "What is a pig?"

The main clause simply precedes:

Tá a fhios agam cad é muc. "I know what a pig is."
An bhfuil a fhios agat cad é muc? "Do you know what a pig is?"
D'inis sí dom cad é muc. "She told me what a pig is."

Note that a lot of other languages work the same way. You can tell because their speakers often get confused by the use of inversion in English and say things like *"I know what is a pig" instead of "I know what a pig is".

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 19:25
by Peadar
linguoboy wrote:Tá a fhios agam cad é muc. "I know what a pig is."
An bhfuil a fhios agat cad é muc? "Do you know what a pig is?"
D'inis sí dom cad é muc. "She told me what a pig is."


I was trying to translate this sentence: The thing that tells you what Psychosis is.
But, when things come to copula, it gets quite entangled for a beginner.
I should learn to read irish texts to improve my grammar as soon as possible. But my vocabulary is still very poor.

Thanks :D Your informations are really helpful.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 20:00
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:I was trying to translate this sentence: The thing that tells you what Psychosis is.

In that case, you got pretty close. It should be: An rud a insíonn duit cad í síocóis. (There's no reason to capitalise this word in either English or Irish.)

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 21:18
by kevin
linguoboy wrote:Number 1 is actually totally ungrammatical. You can't use ann with is like that.

Huh? I am pretty sure that Cad is X ann? is a good way to ask for definitions. GnaG even says it's used in all dialects.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 21:47
by linguoboy
kevin wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Number 1 is actually totally ungrammatical. You can't use ann with is like that.

Huh? I am pretty sure that Cad is X ann? is a good way to ask for definitions. GnaG even says it's used in all dialects.

Odd, I don't ever remember coming across this construction anywhere in any dialect. But you're correct that GnaG lists an example, as does Ó Dónaill. I googled and found a few examples in native Irish texts. (E.g. "Cad is fírinne ann?" in one of Ua Laoghaire's Bible translations.) So I guess "Cad is muc ann?" would be acceptable as well.

Agus mé ag ceapadh nache ea an rud atá i gceist ach Google Translate á iompar féin go hait!

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-19, 22:18
by kevin
Sin a cheapfainn féin mura bhfeicfinn riamh é. :)

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-20, 8:15
by Peadar
Thanks for all you guys' help.

So, as kevin said, the cad is ... ann structure is acceptable in every dialect.
About the cad é/í ... structure, what's the difference when using male or female?
Does the pronoun here agree with the complementary? :hmm:

Also, what irish reader or book would you guys recommend?

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-22, 15:35
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:About the cad é/í ... structure, what's the difference when using male or female?
Does the pronoun here agree with the complementary?

In general with the copula, yes, the pronoun needs to agree in gender with the following noun. There are exceptions, though. The most important one I know of is when you use an extended version of cad with rud "thing". Rud is masculine, so you use é before it (and--optionally--after it) even when the following noun is feminine. E.g.:

Cad é an rud (é) taibhse? "What is a ghost?" [Cf. Cad í an taibhse í? "Which ghost is it?"]

(In Connaught, cad é (an) rud is contracted to céard: Céard é taibhse?)

Peadar wrote:Also, what irish reader or book would you guys recommend?

I don't really know of a good introductory reader for learning Irish. If you're learning Connemara Irish, Ó Siadhail's book Modern Irish had graded reading exercises among the other exercises in each chapter. I tried reading a book of short stories written expressly for younger learners (Gomih by Ré Ó Laighléis) but I wasn't impressed with either the writing or the language.

Hopefully kevin has some suggestions.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-22, 22:20
by kevin
I'm afraid that I don't have good suggestions. I never really used a textbook, you gave me a different way to get started. ;)

And even later, I haven't read many books either, so I can't really compare and make recommendations. I really should read more, but so far I'm better at buying books than reading them...

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-25, 5:34
by Peadar
Well, I wish there'll be more books written in irish in the future.
Go raibh maith agaibh as ucht bhur gcabhrach! :)

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-25, 17:50
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:Well, I wish there'll be more books written in irish in the future.
Go raibh maith agaibh as ucht bhur gcabhrach! :)

Níl a bhuíochas agat!

There are a lot of books available in Irish already and more being written, we just don't happen to be familiar with many of those aimed at learners. In particular, there's been a huge growth in Irish books for children and young adults recently. I just happen not to be interested in reading them. In general, I'd rather hack my way through a book for adults than read something aimed specifically at younger people.

So when I learned Irish, the works I started with were An béal bocht--which is still one of the funniest books I have ever read in any language--and a bilingual edition of the poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. The latter was especially helpful for getting the hang of some more difficult syntactic constructions. I also had access to an English translation of Brian O'Nolan/Flann O'Brien/Myles na gCopaleen's book which I could refer to when struggling with some of the more difficult passages.

When I learn a new language, the texts I tend to prefer are (a) graphic novels and (b) short stories. I don't know much about graphic novels in Irish, though I do know that there was a highly-acclaimed adaptation of the Táin published some years ago. I don't have any good short story collections to recommend in Irish, but I'm sure you could find them if you looked.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-26, 11:15
by Peadar
Thanks for sharing!
An Béal Bocht seems interesting, I'll try my best to find texts or books that improve my reading skills.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-26, 14:31
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:An Béal Bocht seems interesting

It is hilarious, but to really appreciate the humour, you need to be at least somewhat familiar with the classics of modern Irish autobiography (particularly An t-Oileánach, Fiche blian ag fás, and Rann na Feirste). But that doesn't mean you can't try reading it and then circle back to it later once you've got more context for some of the satire.

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-31, 10:45
by Peadar
linguoboy wrote:
Peadar wrote:An Béal Bocht seems interesting

It is hilarious, but to really appreciate the humour, you need to be at least somewhat familiar with the classics of modern Irish autobiography (particularly An t-Oileánach, Fiche blian ag fás, and Rann na Feirste). But that doesn't mean you can't try reading it and then circle back to it later once you've got more context for some of the satire.

Wow! That seems quite a lot of works!
If I got any problem, I'm sure you guys are willing to help.
Thanks for the reminding. Now I'm gonna get onto the road to my own Gaeiltacht.
Go raibh maith agat :partyhat:

Re: Some questions about irish syntax

Posted: 2019-07-31, 13:22
by linguoboy
Peadar wrote:Wow! That seems quite a lot of works!

That's fewer than you need to appreciate Cold Comfort Farm! And they're not as long either.

Peadar wrote:Thanks for the reminding. Now I'm gonna get onto the road to my own Gaeiltacht.

(The l in Gael and Gaeltacht is broad, not slender as in Gaeil and Gaeilge.)