Tattoo translation “The lights tell about life”

Fáilte (Welcome) Forums General Discussion (Irish and English) Tattoo translation “The lights tell about life”

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    Héilics Órbhuí

    LOL, Why am I not surprised in the slightest that you can’t remember even that?? It happened ON THIS PAGE. You must be a bangin’ translator.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    This look vaguely familiar?

    And I’ll thank you to disagree with my translations without telling me what I understand or don’t understand

    And your response….

    Ok. Let me rephrase what I said earlier or at least try to word my thoughts in a clearer way. As an experienced translator, we translators don’t as a general rule leave the target text as vague or ambiguous as the source text. What we do as a general rule, when we don’t completely understand the text, is approach the client and try to find out what the source text means. The aim is to carry the meaning of the source language into the target language. That’s not always easy to do, of course, but the translator is at least obliged to do that research into the target text. The text we’ve been asked to translate appears from the explanation given to be reasonably clear as to its meaning and so we can make a reasonable stab at transferring the meaning into the target language.

    Good job. High-fives all around?


    I probably caused part of the problem in saying that the statement doesn’t mean anything. I can understand the words in English, but as I said earlier they really don’t mean anything. It can be translated into Irish word for word and it will still mean nothing. That is why I suggested that Helmut should leave it in German. There is no reason to try to push it through the “English” middle-step.

    I am not an experienced translator but I am an educated English speaker. As a lawyer, I spoke and wrote words as my profession for decades. Helmut, I think I would encourage you again to put it into German and then translate directly into Irish. I would caution you however that it may have the unintended effect of being one of those weird tattoos that doesn’t mean anything like one I saw on Facebook that says “Teaghlach Céad”. Helmut those words literally mean “Household” and “First”, but in Irish they do not mean “Family First” which I think the person had intended. I did a quick “Google Translator” search and it says that is the meaning.

    I’ll give you another example. In colloquial English “get along” can mean different things. If I say to Carmanach and Héilics “Get along”. It means: Stop arguing and find a point to agree on. The Google translator says “Holen Sie sich entlang”. Does that say, “move on somewhere”, or “be at peace with each other”? If I put that on a tattoo on my arm would all understand that it is my desire for all peoples to live together in harmony? I don’t mean to be ridiculous but it may help you to see part of the problem. It has definite meaning in colloquial Texan English, but it may be meaningless when put into other languages. Now, having said all that, Carmanach and Héilics do need to “get along”. We need to focus on helping you, but remember that our site is really to assist people to learn Irish. We are not really perhaps your best source for a tattoo translation. There are groups that do that. Try and I wish you the best of luck! :coolsmile:

    Héilics Órbhuí

    You’re right féabar, in that this is really not the place for this, and I’m slightly ashamed that this has been so public, but you’re definitely wrong if you think you caused what is happening now in any way. This is the result of one thing: two stubborn people. It doesn’t even matter at this point who is right. I’m not going to dispute any more in this thread. If I haven’t made myself clear by now, then there is no further explanation that will suffice. I apologize to the OP for Camanach’s and my mutual ruining of his thread.


    Both of you are stubborn but you are passionate, learned, and of great value to this forum. You are both critically important to my furtherance in the Irish language. I started my journey getting on this forum over 4 years ago. It was helpful to me then and it is helpful to me now. Please don’t either of you go anywhere.

    JUST “GET ALONG !!!’ and ” BEHAVE ”

    Ps: I’m glad I’m not married to either of you! I don’t think I would enjoy never winning at an argument.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    Haha, well I’m glad to hear that someone values my participation. I don’t pretend to be as knowledgeable as Carmanach. His shortcomings are not his knowledge, but his attitude. As a non-fluent speaker, I’m often dubious of how much good I’m really doing, but I try to help in what ways I can without totally sending someone astray.

    And to Carmanach, I’ve sent you a private message response to your most recent post.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    It’s actually pretty telling that you have no concept of the term PRIVATE message. I’m actually glad you’ve given everyone such a clear view of your qualities. I tried to take this fight out of the thread and you actually refuse to do so. Thanks for staying classy, Carmanach.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    You really have no shame…


    The shame would be if both of you were banned from the forum.

    If your aim in coming here is to try and help people, than please do so. Your incessant bickering is having the opposite effect.

    Use the ignore button and take your petty squabbles elsewhere.



    so… and what is about me???


    Seraphel; Don’t worry…… we have not forgotten you!

    Daltaí is way bigger than any one person so don’t worry about a squabble between a couple of members. As we’ve explained, you’ve given us words in English that individually have meaning but they don’t mean anything in the English language when they’re put together. Did you visit the site to which I referred you? That is what they do routinely. I would suggest you post there in German and see what they can come up with. I am a member on that site as well. This is by definition an Irish-Learning site and although this site does many things well, perhaps a tattoo translation is done better in another place.

    If I were the only person in the world with any Irish, I might translate it something like:

    “Déanann soilse cur síos ar an tShaoil” (literally: “Lights make description on life”) : Lights describe Life

    Does this help?

    Ps: I am a mere intermediate speaker of Irish (only about 4 years learning) so tattoo yourself with caution

    Héilics Órbhuí

    I had considered some variation of “cur síos” as well. I abandoned it because at the time I thought it lent more to a physical description rather than a more complete image of what or who someone is as a person. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but that’s why I personally dropped that line of thinking. It should also be “ar an saol” or “ar an tsaol”, depending on dialect, but that’s probably a typo on your part.


    Yes…. sorry I should have written “Ar an tSaol” Both “Ar an Saol” and “ar an tsaol” sound right to me. (saoil is the genitive) I probably don’t know the pronunciation difference in “saol” and “saoil” In time I’ll be able to hear the distinction.


    Dear Helmut,

    I would recommend the translation offered by Carmanach in an earlier post: “I ndathanna an bhoghaisín atá scéal an duine” or “I seacht ndath an bhoghaisín atá scéal an duine”. This would literally mean “The person’s story is in the (seven) colours of the rainbow”, but sounds neat and I would even say poetic in Irish. I’m not a native speaker, but to me the Irish word for “light” (“solas”) does not convey the multiplicity of colours/experiences you refer to.

    Grüße 🙂

    Bríd Mhór

    Hey there,

    I’m not sure if I’m right here in this forum, but I really need help for a translation, ’cause irish friends doesn’t speaking here (in germany) good gaelic. I need the translation of a short phrase for a tattoo and I don’t want a mistake in the context and grammatic.

    The phrase is “The lights tell about life”

    The plural of the light is correct, it means the seven colours of the spectrum (rainbow) which is a symbol for the different facettes in life. And of course means “life” in the phrase not the life-span, but rather the biographie of me.

    Maybe it is possible to use more “poem”-words not a allday-slang, but of course it isn’t so important ’cause in germany the most people doens’t speak gaelic.

    It would be great if you can help me 🙂

    Thanks and greetings from Germany

    Guten Tag Helmut, and welcome to Daltaí. Don’t mind the children, they get out of hand sometimes. We have to give them a smack.

    I think Helmut has made it clear he wants “lights” rather than “colours”.
    All colour is light anyhow. Colour depends on how light is absorbed and refracted. So the rainbow is made up of lights of different colours.

    As you mentioned biography, and also said you are open to interpretation.
    May I suggest this –
    “Insíonn na soilse an scéal” – The lights tell the story. With Google translate plus my limited knowledge of German grammar I think this is the correct German – Die Lichter die Geschichte erzählen.

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