This letter replies to Fleming’s letter of 19th December, and where unclear the original query will be given in italics.
Castlelyons Co. Cork
21st December. 1917
My dear Fr. Richard
Your letter has just come to hand and your questions are, as usual, most interesting.
[Did you ever heard aoibhneas pronounced ínneas?]
1) No I never did. I have always heard the bh quite distinct.
[Aithris p16 is uaimse a fachtar gach ní
Aithris p136 gan saothar ní gheibhtear suaimhneas
Could these forms of the verb be interchanged?]
2.) I suppose they could. But I prefer them as they stand. I feel that fachtar means that there was no saothar in the getting. Gheibhtear seems to be the result of the saothar. If I say Is uaimse a gheibhtear gach ní I mean that, nevertheless there is some saothar in the getting. When I say fachtar the thing is got without saothar. It is simply “found”.
[My last difficulty about cuardaigh arose from cuardód an áit seo ar dtúis dóibh p11 Sgothbhualadh. Here I thought that cuardaigh do rogha rud = “search” and not “search for” unless the preposition do were used (at p88) Aithris.]
3.) I think you are just perfectly right in what you say here. Cuardaigh is simply “search”. Cuardaigh na gamhna = “search (for) the calves”. Cuardaigh an baile dhóibh = “search the (whole) land for them”. You see there is a double object for the cuardach, the place and the calves. Until this moment I have never adverted to the fact that cuardach is from cuaird = a going round. So that cuardach is going round in search of a thing. The going round might be confined to a very small “round”. A person may be searching for something in a very small bundle of straw.
Cad ’ta agat á dhéanamh ansan? Táim ag cuardach. Cad ’tá agat á chuardach? Táim ag cuardach mo shnáthaide. Ní haon mhaith dhuit bheith ag cuardach na háite sin di. There is the double object. But I could just as well say Ní haon mhaith dhuit bheith dhá cuardach san áit sin. Lorg = “a trail”. Hence we have ar lorg = “on the trail”. But the idea of “trail” is often abandoned and we say táim dhá lorg = “I am searching them”.
[Mór-is-fiú mórtais móráil éirí in áirde The last I imagine involves disdain of others. Which of them does a person possess who is mórchúiseach?]
4.) Mórchúiseach is the one that has most disdain in it. I once saw a young lady pass. She was goodlooking, but she had a look of the utmost contempt and disdain for everyone and for everything. A boy near me said Aililiú! airiú cé hí an mhórchúis?
Mór-is-fiú = extreme self-complacency.
Éirí in áirde = Assuming an attitude for above what a person has a right to by his worldly position.
Mórtais = overweening joyousness.
Móráil = the expression of that same joyousness.
Mórchúis is always looking down on other people.
[Aigne seems to mean a passing frame of mind and inscint = reason? but I don’t quite understand íntinn. You use it as a translation of spiritus desiderium (p108) and sentire (p111). Sometimes like aigne it means intention. Then we have meabhair and íntleacht.
Meabhair = memory, reason; and
meabhair chínn commonsense
a) Is íntleacht = power of penetration
and éirim aigne power of comprehending
But “comprehend” is not a clear word in English; it seems to embrace everything from perfect comprehension (as in God) down to mere apprehension. Again, you use breithniú as the translation of comprehend.]
5.) Aigne is “mind”, in every sense in which the word “mind” is used in English, “frame of mind” included. I have never heard the word inscint. I don’t know what it means. Aigne is “purpose”, “resolution made”, an aigne atá curtha rómhat agat = “the purpose which you have set before yourself”. (I did not translate literally.)
The fundamental idea in íntinn is “purpose”. We have íntinn mhaith = “(he) means well”, “(he) is well disposed”. Meabhair is “sense”. Níl aon mheabhair aige – “he has no sense”, i.e. you can’t be certain that he will do the right thing in any emergency. We have meabharú = “putting all the details of a subjec together in his mind, i.e. thinking a matter out”. Íntleacht is, fundamentally, the inventive faculty. I saw a boy looking at the works of a watch. “Ó!” said he “níl aon teóra le híntleacht an duine!” I have heard “memory” called meabhar chínn. Of course cuímhne is the general word for the act of “remembering”. I have not heard meabhair chínn used as Irish for “common sense”. As a rule, ciall simply is what I have heard Irish speakers use where they would use “common sense” when speaking English. We have the term meabhair shaolta, a very common expression, Do baineadh a mheabhair shaolta dhe, = “He actually lost his wits”.
a) Yes. Íntleacht is “invention”, and therefore