Fáilte (Welcome) › Forums › General Discussion (Irish and English) › Deciphering Irish Dictionaries
- This topic has 15 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 6 years, 7 months ago by Dáithí.
July 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm #36917
Here’s a stumbling block that I have with using Irish dictionaries: the word order described in the examples and definition of the word often requires a knowledge of how to rearrange that order in order to form a sentence. Here’s an example: I want to know how to say “I gave Brutus a chance.” So, the first thing I do is look up chance using the online dictionaries, which I already know is seans, but immediately notice that the English Irish dictionary has a different form than FGB – separate but interesting phenomenon. 🙂
Next I luck out and I see that in FGB has the phrase I want, but here comes the tricky part. The phrase “to give someone a chance” is shown as “~ a thabhairt do dhuine.” Now I do know what the words mean and can sometimes grasp the proper necessary rearrangement of “~a thabhairt do dhuine” to what I want to say: “Thug me seans do Bhrutus.”
But often the phrases provided in FBG or the English-Irish dictionary require the same word re-ordering effort but the re-ordering is often perplexing and I don’t know how to proceed. Any deciphering help is greatly appreciated. Maybe I need to provide a more challenging example, but I wanted to at least bring up the subject.
DáithíJuly 30, 2016 at 12:47 pm #45968LughaidhParticipant
Just ask, whenever you don’t know how to put the words in the right order.
It’s true that it’s hard to use an Irish dictionary if you don’t master the grammar… It’s true with most dictionaries of most languages anyway…July 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm #45969
Great – thanks for the advice.July 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm #45970
Yeah, give us examples of ones that you have a hard time with.
In general, you need to logically break down in your head what is happening with the sentence. Identify the pieces and how they work in the example phrase. Ask yourself, what is the subject? What is the object? What is the indirect object? How are each of those pieces treated in the example and how would you have to substitute in the new pieces that you want to actually use? If you can answer those things, in most cases you’ll be well on your way to restructuring it to your needs.July 31, 2016 at 2:50 pm #45971LabhrásParticipant
Yes, you are right. You need a thorough knowledge of Irish grammar and a more than basic vocabulary to use Irish dictionaries. 🙂
There are often forms you cannot understand if you just speak Standard Irish, e.g. relative forms of verbs, non-standard forms of irregular verbs, etc.
Entry tnúth in FÓD. There’s an example tnúth a threabhas = Where is a will there’s a way. What?
For no good reason “threabhas” links in the online version to the special entry “threabhas”.
Probably even the (online) dictionary makers didn’t understand this word because there is no translation given but the same example, tnúth a threabhas.
No hint at all that threabhas is (probably) a form of the verb treabh (plough)!
Even worse the example fonn a níos fiach (entry: fonn), same figurative translation: Where is a will there is a way.
níos fiach? No hint, that a níos = a dhéanas = a dhéanann = “that makes”.
It’s a wish that makes hunt!August 4, 2016 at 10:40 pm #45972
Go raibh maith agaibh! Here’s a pretty straightforward example from FGB that almost trips me up:
feidhm. And then the example: “~ a bhaint as rud.” So, I would have “bhain mé feidhm as an mbord.”
Maybe I got the eclipsis right, but the sticking point is understanding that rearrangement is required and that although “bhaint” is shown, I need to conjugate it instead. This is one of the more challenging ones, but it gives an example of the struggle to use the dictionary. And why “bhaint?” I understand the lenition, but is FGB using the verbal adjective here?
I was hoping there would be a formula for dealing with such constructions and I guess it’s just a matter of practice. Thanks for the offers to help.August 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm #45973LughaidhParticipant
I understand the lenition, but is FGB using the verbal adjective here?
“Bhaint” is not a verbal adjective, it’s the verbal noun of “bain”. Verbal adjectives all end with -te, -ta, -the or -tha.
Phrases like “to do something” are “rud éigin + A + verbal noun (with lenition when possible)”. Rud a dhéanamh, teach a cheannach, leabhar a léamh, etc. That’s what the dictionary uses, to provide an expression with a verb and an object, most of the time.August 5, 2016 at 3:13 am #45974
Like Lughaidh says, basically consider the “a + verbal noun” construction as the dictionary version of the infinitive (which technically doesn’t exist in Irish, but this is the closest approximation of it). So, “rud a dhéanamh” is roughly equivalent to “to do something (lit. a thing)”, “duine a fheiceáil” = “to see a person”, etc.August 5, 2016 at 10:50 am #45975
Thanks Héilics Órbhuí and Lughaidh. I really appreciate the advice. The tricky part is correctly rearranging the examples, but I think I’m getting to understand the process. And Héilics suggestion of focusing on the components of the sentence or thought is perfect!
Here’s another example: I want to say I gave something to someone. So I know the verb is tabhair. Now tabhair is quite an popular verb, and I expect a lot of entries, but what I’m looking for didn’t make either the short or long list.
tabhair, v.t. & i. (pres. tugann, p. thug, fut. tabharfaidh, vn. ~t, pp. tugtha). 1. Give. (a) Grant, bestow, confer, provide, contribute. Rud a thabhairt in aisce, go fonnmhar, le gean ar dhuine, to give sth. gratis, willingly, out of affection for s.o.
But, luckily, way at the bottom with the phrases the form I’m looking for is given:
Thug mé arán dó ach níor mhian leis a ithe, I gave him bread but he did not want to eat it.
So looks like it’s practice makes perfect and I’m learning other important aspects as I better embrace the dictionaries. I’m also fortunate enough to attend Daltaí classes and brought the same issue up with one of the teachers last night. And did a little more reading on the preposition a which should helpAugust 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm #45976
It’s funny that Ó Dónaill doesn’t have a more prominently featured example for “rud a thabhairt do dhuine”, so you’re right there. This brings up another piece of advice: check multiple dictionaries. If you look up “give” in De Bhaldraithe, one of the first things you’ll see there is precisely the example I mention. While overall I think Ó Dónaill’s is the superior dictionary (mostly because it has more stuff in it), sometimes if you’re looking to go from English to Irish, De Bhaldraithe’s will give you a clearer result. Focloir.ie is also a good resource that shouldn’t be ignored. Between those three sources you should be able to find just about anything. And of course tearma.ie will be useful for newer more technical things that might not be in any of those.August 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm #45977
Go raibh maith agat a Héilics. And I do see the example you mention and appreciate the advice about using the other De Bhaldraithe more often. Focloir.ie looks very interesting and helpful. I think I’ve gotten to the point of understanding the basic steps of what I’m looking for. Here’s the focal point: although the dictionaries do a good job displaying the verbal noun preceded by “a” , nobody talks like that. 🙂 Nobody wants to say “to give something to someone.” To be of any use, we have to take following steps, using my initial example in this post:
“seans a thabhairt do dhuine.” Basic Form: direct object + “a” + verbal noun +do + indirect object
and rearrange that to this form:
Conjugated verb + seans + do + indirect object
Tugaim seans do Mhícheál
Now that’s an easy one that even I can get and it has only one preposition. What I’ve written may be considered a base template from which I can build other templates for more complex scenarios on how to use the dictionary to extract useful information to form correct Irish statements.August 7, 2016 at 1:46 am #45978
People sure do say stuff like that, though. “Tá sé riachtanach seans a thabhairt do dhuine”, mar shampla. “Tá sé thar am seans a thabhairt do Mhícheál”.
But I think you’re getting it now and with a little more usage you won’t have any problems reconstructing things. In fact, it’s one of the most essential language skills in general, even if no dictionary were involved. You would still be hearing people saying things that you had to re-purpose for new utterances of your own. I would suggest whenever you come up with a new phrase you take an approach like: 1. (if the sample is in the present tense) how do I say this in the past or other tenses like the conditional, etc.? 2. how do I say this after or with something else (i.e. with the above example – if the phrase is saying something like “to sue someone”, how do you say “he regretted that he had to sue someone”), and on and on.
Good luck! 😉August 8, 2016 at 11:54 am #45979
Thanks Héilics! – I really appreciate the time you’ve spent and your sharing of knowledge that helped me overcome this stumbling block. And now I see thanks to you that there are actual uses of the phrases shown after the headwords. I’ll also practice the phrases in different tenses and persons…. now that I know what I’m doing. 🙂
DáithíAugust 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm #45980
Here’s one that is a little challenging. It’s from FGB at http://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/íoc
The verb is íoc (pay) and my question is with one of the entries under the verb form:
Cards: An bord a íoc – “to put one’s money on the table.”
I understand that it’s probably idiomatic, but I’d like to form a sentence with it e.g., I put my money on the table (present tense). Here goes:
íocaim an bord. Or should there be a preposition, say like íocaim ar an mbord?
Go raibh maith agaibh.
DáithíAugust 9, 2016 at 4:38 pm #45981
Unfamiliar with that phrase, but it should be as you suppose: “íocaim an bord” (or “d’íoc mé an bord” in the past tense). If there were a preposition required it would indicate it somehow.
I believe the logic behind the phrase is that when you put money on the table (i.e. in a betting game) you are paying the table. In fact, the phrase “pay the table” exists in English too, if I’m not mistaken, meaning to put money down before gambling starts.
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