Irish Lesson 5.
Idiomatic Uses of "ar", cont'd.
"Ar" can be used with "ag" and a form of "tá" to express the concept of owing money, or owing anything else for that matter:
"Ag" goes with the person being owed, and "ar" with the person who has to pay up. This is easier to remember if you think of the English expression "I have something on you".
"Ar" can be used to express obligation using a form of "tá" and an "infinitive" verb. The infinitive is the indefinite form of the verb which in English is preceded by the word "to" and which is used when there are two verbs in a sentence, e.g.:
The infinitive in Irish is also used as the second verb in a sentence. It is formed easily by taking the verbal noun and dropping the "ag". For example:
As you can see, if what we are trying to say is "I have to..." then in Irish we express it as "is on-me..." Note that there is no subject pronoun as such -- we don't say "tá sé orm", for example.
Additional Idiom with "ag"
A handy "ag" expression I forgot to mention previously is "tá suim agam", which means "I am interested":
Tá suim agam i nGaeilge. -- I am interested in the Irish language.
Incidentally you should know have enough Irish to translate the following devout proverb:
Tá Dia láidir agus máthair mhaith aige.
All these words you have met before, except for "Dia", God.
Prepostional Pronouns of "i"
The combined forms for the word "i" (in) are:
Most of these forms are not very common (tho' you do see expressions like "tá suim agam inti" -- "I am interested in her" etc.) but the masculine form "ann" is by far the most important of the lot. The reason is because it's often used idiomatically to express a kind of metaphysical quality of "being there" in certain statements. One of these idioms involves using "ann" as a replacement for English "there" (and instead of the specific Irish word "ansin"):
"Ann" is also used to talk about the weather: instead of "it's raining", one would say "rain is in it":
-- which is an odd expression, but then again so is "it's
"Ann" is also often seen after the word "atá", which is a combination of "a" (a relative pronoun, not to be confused with the possessive "a") and the verb "tá". "Atá" means "which is", "who is", or "that is", as in "the man who is here", "the house that is blue", etc. For example:
When "atá ann" is used after a noun, however, it can't really translated into English. In one of the stage directions at the beginning of an act in an Irish play there is this sentence:
Literally this sentence means "the afternoon that is in-it". "Ann" conveys the same kind of out-there quality in this case as it does with the weather in the examples above.
"i" + possessive pronoun, part 2
A couple of lessons back phrases like "tá sé ina thost" for "he is silent" and "bhí mé i mo shuí" for "I was sitting" were introduced. The combination of "i" plus a possessive pronoun is also used to join two nouns together, for example when trying to say that thing A is thing B. From the same Irish play mentioned above ("An Giall" (The Hostage) by Brendan Behan) there are these sentences:
In the first example Thing A is "a athair", his father, and Thing B is "easpag", a bishop. To join them we say that "his father was in his bishop", which sounds a bit surreal or even giggle-inducing but which just means "his father was a bishop". The literal translation of the second sentence, then, is "He was not in-his corporal, but in-his general", where Thing A is "he" and Things B are "corporal" and "general", respectively. Note how "corporal" and "ginearál" are aspirated by "ina", which refers back to "sé" and is masculine. If it were a woman being referred to, one would say "ní raibh sí ina corporal, ach ina ginearál" without the aspiration, following the rules for possessives we learned earlier.
This idiom is not confined to linking people with their professions or with their identities; in the Irish Bible there's a good example of it being used with inanimate nouns as well:
Notice that "tine" and "coinleach" are aspirated; this is because the "a" in "ina" is a masculine possessive pronoun, which in turn is due to the fact that "teach" (Thing A) is a masculine noun. The translation of the above passage is
"The house of Jacob will be a fire,
... but as usual, the literal meaning of the Irish version is "the house of Jacob will be in-its fire, / and the house of Joseph will be in-its blaze, / but the house of Esau will be in-its rubble."
"Le" means "with" (among other things) and is another hard-working Irish preposition like "ag" and "ar":
Note that it adds a small "h" to words beginning with a vowel:
le hEibhlín -- with Eibhlin
"Le" also means "by" when speaking of authorship:
leabhar le James Joyce -- a book by James Joyce
You can use it to express a length of time (note the use of the present tense in these examples):
When "le" comes before the definite article "an" it changes to "leis" and, like "ar" and "ag", causes eclipsis on the noun (except with nouns beginning with "t" or "d"):
As with "ag an" and "ar an", some people use aspiration instead of eclipsis after "leis an".
Le + Personal Pronoun
The combined (prepositional pronoun) forms are:
Verbs with "le"
Some verbs require "le" to complete their meanings, e.g.
There are oodles more idioms involving "le" but they'll have to wait until later.