Tomhas na Teanga – September/October 2005
All the articles from this column are available on-line. At www.scoilgaeilge.org , click on ‘general reading’ in the menu (to the left) and the first link you will see is to the archives for this column. I have added a little more information to the index, to make it easier to find particular subjects that were covered. I try to have information about the language, lessons, and reading material in Irish, in each column. Hopefully that is something for everyone!
Séamus Blake did a radio show featuring my work, and that of my friend Raymond Clarke, on July 16th. This can be heard at http://wfuv.venaca.com/archive/4945.asx . There are many other very interesting programs in the archives at www.wfuv.org , especially this program, Míle Fáilte, which is on Saturday mornings. The program is always about the Irish language. The CDs which he played on this particular show are all available if you go to http://www.cdbaby.com , and search for ‘Neachtain.’ There are lots of other samples you can listen to there. One of these CDs is Brian De Vale’s Raise Your Glass. This has been re-issued as a re-master and has a new bonus track. It features a number of songs and a poem in Irish about 9/11. This poem is also in my bi-lingual book, along with several others on that subject. The book is ‘An File ar Buile,’ and is available from any internet book seller (www.amazon.com or www.bn.com , for example), or shops can order it via Ingram – ISBN: 1-4134-3854-7 (Paperback), 1-4134-3855-5 (Hardback). All of us who produce Irish language related material appreciate your support.
There are two ‘to be’ verbs in Irish. One is the verb ‘bí’ (bee). This is one of the twelve irregular verbs in Irish. Its present form is ‘tá’ (tah). This verb is used to describe things, and talk about things generally. There is another verb, which is really a defective verb, and has a special name because of that. This is ‘is’ (iss), and is called the copula. The copula is used to identify and classify. It is more like an equal sign in function.
The distinction between these is one of the things that beginners tend to mix up the most. We looked a little at the copula in July of 2004 – you may want to look at that again. Let’s look at some examples to get the feel for how to know which verb to use.
Tá fear ann (tah farr (‘a’ like in Harry) ow-n (or ‘onn’) – there is a man, a man exists. Literally, there is a man in it (the world). This is a very general statement. It doesn’t identify the man. It does not classify the man. We could add an adjective, which would describe the man, but not put him into a particular class of people, like teachers or soldiers). Tá fear mór (more) ann. There is a big man. Tá bean bheag ann (tah van vug ow-n) – there is a small woman. Tá an fear mór – the man is big. Tá an bhean beag (bug) – the woman is small. These are describing sentences. ‘Tá’ is also used to describe feelings, opinions, general conditions, etc. Conas ‘tá tú? How are you? Tá mé go maith. I am well.
But to identify or classify, the copula must be used. Is fear é (iss farr ay) – he is a man. Is bean í (iss ban ee) – she is a woman. Is fear mór é – he is a big man (now we are talking about a specific class of things – men, or big men – and putting him into that class). Is mise Séamas (iss misha shaymus). ‘Mise’ is an emphatic form of ‘mé,’ me/I. I am Séamas. This is an identification sentence. Is é ár múinteoir é (Iss ay are moontyoor ay) – he is our teacher (another identification sentence). Is múinteoir é – he is a teacher (classification sentence). The syntax is slightly different in the two types of sentences, but both require the copula. It is completely wrong to say ‘tá sé fear.’ And remember, ‘is’ is not pronounce like ‘is’ in English. There is no ‘z’ sound. The ‘s’ is like the ‘s’ in ‘yes.’ This is an exception to the usually slender (sh) ‘s’ sound which occurs next to an ‘i’ or an ‘e’ in Irish.
There are some more complex ways of using these verbs, but that is the basics (for the present tense). Use what you learned this time and last time to read these short sentences:
Tá Dia ann. Is fear agus Dia é, Íosa Críost. Is é Íosa ár nDia é.
Mar is iondúil, seo daoibh scéal faoi mo laethanta saoire. Ach an uair seo, rinne mé suíomh idirlín fúthu. Tá sé as Gaeilge, agus tá leagan eile ann as Béarla:
(As usual, here is a story about my vacation. But this time, I made an internet site about it. It is in Irish, and there is another version in English):
Chuamar go dtí Iarthar na Stáit Aontaithe, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah agus Colorado. Ní raibh mo pháistí ann roimhe seo, agus is fada an lá ó bhí mise is mo bhean chéile ann. Chonaiceamar áiteanna nach bhfacamar riamh roimhe seo. Mar sin féin, d’fhilleamar ar ais go cúpla áit an-aitheanta dúinn, an Cainneon Ollmhór (Grand (really really big) Canyon) go háirithe. Bíonn an iomarca le déanamh aon uair a thugtar cuairt ar na háiteanna áille seo. Níl aon deireadh leis an iontas.
Nuair a bhíomar in aice leis na Ceithre Chúinne, chualamar Navaho ar an raidió. Tá áiteanna ann ina bhfuil Navaho ar na comharthaí, freisin. Tá a leithéid ann in áiteanna eile na laethanta seo, agus is maith an rud é. Tá na Meiriceánaigh dúchasacha ag iarraidh a dteangacha a chosaint. Go maire siad!
Rinneadh cinneadh in Éirinn chun Béarla a ghlanadh de na comharthaí bóthair sa Ghaeltacht. Tá sé conspóideach, go háirithe sa Daingean. Deir daoine áirithe go bhfuil ‘Dingle’ tábhachtach mar logainm do na turasóirí. Deir daoine eile gurb í an Ghaeilge an rud atá ó na turasóirí, agus nár mhiste leo má tá gach comhartha as Gaeilge ann. An fhadhb is mó, sin nach mbeidh na hainmneacha Gaeilge ar na léarscáileanna go ceann tamaill eile, agus cuirfidh sin dallamullóg ar dhaoine. Sílimse gur maith an rud é, mar cuireann sé béim ar an nGaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, mar is cóir.