Every terrier is bold in the door of its house.

Note: This seanfhocal is very similar to the English proverb, ‘Every dog is a lion at home.’ There are two ways to interpet it. The extreme lion metaphor conjures an image of bravado, a false courage, as in the lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” or Christy Mann in “The Playboy of the Western World.” However, the terrier (madra gearr: literally short dog) subject, a breed known for its intelligence, courage, and tenacity, suggests someone who will defend home and hearth to the death where discretion might prevail elsewhere.

Note also: One could rewrite this seanfhocal, ‘Bíonn gach madra gearr teann i ndoras a thí féin.’ The first few words of this more usual grammatical form tell you that this sentence is about terriers. Suppose, however, you use this week’s alternative grammatical construct, ‘Is [adjective] [noun]…’ Now the first words you hear are ‘Is teann …’ You immediately know that this alternative sentence is about boldness. Therefore, by shifting word order you have naturally shifted emphasis. This method of combining the verb ‘Is’ with a word at the begining of a sentence to show emphasis is called ‘fronting’.

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