Idioms that remind one of English idiom

It can be difficult to work out sometimes if something is Béarlachas or not, or whether English and Irish have genuinely said things in similar ways for centuries. As nearby cultures, this would be unsurprising, according to the linguistic Sprachbund theory (possibly reflecting the Celtic substratum that underlies English?).

I am compiling a list of phrases from good Irish authors where an English speaker can leverage his knowledge of English and put the idiom directly into Irish in the knowledge that it will still be good Irish:

  • Níor fhéadas a dhéanamh amach cad é an saghas ruda é:  I couldn’t make out what it was. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Ba mhaith liom a dh’fhághail amach, má’s féidir é, cé r’ bh’ í féin: I’d like to find out, if possible, who she was. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Gur thuit [sí] i ngrádh leis: she had fallen in love with him. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Óir do chuir a máthair suas chuige í: for her mother had put her up to it. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Na Cheithre Soisgéil.]
  • Do chíodh Cormac sinn, ach ní leigeadh sé air go bhfeiceadh: Cormac saw us, but he didn’t let on that he could see us. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Tháinig sé chuige féin: he came to (after being knocked out). [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Dheineadh daoine a ndícheal chun oiread des na prátaíbh miona do choimeád agus dhéanfadh an garaidhe do chur i gcóir na h-aithbhliana: people would do their best to keep as many of the little potatoes as would “do” to sow the field (or just “could sow the field”) for the next year. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • B’éigean dom fanmhaint sa bhaile, agus pé múineadh a thug mo mháthair dom déanamh leis: I had to stay at home, and make do with whatever instruction my mother gave me. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Níor chuir san mé ó é bheith daingean am’ aigne gur am’ shagart a bheinn: that did not put me off from being sure in my mind that I would become a priest. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Ansan bhí rudaí eile nár airigheas riamh aon teacht thórsa: then there were other things I had never come across. (never heard mention of) [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • An triail comórtais, féachaint cé gheóbhadh dul go Coláisde Mhaighe Nuadhat: the contest to see who would get to go to Maynooth College. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Srutháin beag ag ruith ó-dheas tríd an ngearadh: a little stream running south through the cutting. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Gur imthigh sé agus gur dhíol sé iad: that he went and betrayed them. [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin.]
  • Níor bh’ fhéidir cur suas leis: it was impossible to put up with it/tolerate it [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Níor chuaidh sé ró dhian ar an gcuid eile acu: he didn’t go too hard on the rest of them [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Chómh fada agus chuaidh an obair a deineadh ins na sgoileanaibh: as far as the work done in the schools went, as far as it was concerned [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Do phioc cuid des na buachaillíbh suas an t-eólus go tiugh: some of the boys picked up the knowledge quickly [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Tharaingeas chúgham na seana leabhair agus ghlanas an ceó dhíobh agus chromas ar fhéachaint tríotha: I took out my old books and cleaned the dust from them and began to look through them [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Ní dhéanfadh an chaint fhada Bhéarla an dá mholadh leath chómh deas agus dheinean an dá fhocal sa Ghaeluinn iad: the long passage in English would not praise the two things half as nicely as the two words in Irish do [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Is gearr ná féadfaidh aoinne dul uaithi-seo, tá sí ag iompáil amach chómh deisbhéalach!: it won’t be long before no-one escapes from her, she is turning out so witty! [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • Bhí sé i n-am mhairbh na h-oídhche: it was the dead of night [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • Nuair a tháinig an fhírinne amach: when the truth came out [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • Do gheibhdís sgoluigheacht agus bia agus deoch agus díon, agus gach coimeád suas eile a theastuigheadh uatha, saor i n aisge: they got an education, with food, drink and accommodation, and everything else they required in the way of their upkeep, free of charge [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Ba ghearr go gcurfá na h-uaisle ’na gcómhnuidhe, agus ba ghádh san: you would soon put the gentlemen in their place, and that is badly needed [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • A cheann d’á sgoltadh le teínneas agus ná feuchfadh aoinne agaibh ’na dhiaigh, his head bursting with pain, and none of you looking after him [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • B’éigean do Chormac a slígh féin do thabhairt di, Cormac had to give her her own way [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • Tóg t’aimsir, take your time [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • fheicim conus a bhéadh aon tairbhthe ag teacht chúichi ó n-a mbás san: I don’t see how their death could bring her any benefit [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Do rith Conn i dtreó gur choimeád sé suas le Caoilte: Conn ran so fast he kept up with Caoilte [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Do tugtí na fir amach os a chómhair agus do curtí tré n-a ngleacaidheacht iad: the men were brought out before him and put through their exercises [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Bhídís ag feuchaint rómpa amach chun an lae ’n-a mbéadh an chuaird críochnuighthe agus iad go léir ag teacht abhaile go Ceann Cora i n-aonfheacht leis an Árdrígh: they were looking forward to the day when the visit would be over and they would all be coming home to Kincora with the High King [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Is dóich leó féin go mbeidh deich míle fear acu, agus go dtógfaid na mná agus an chlann suas oiread slíghe agus thógfadh deich míle eile fear: they themselves think they will have 10,000 men and that the women and the children will take up as much room as another 10,000 men would have [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Niamh].
  • Ní thaithnean fear liom a shéidean fuar agus teith: I don’t like a man who blows hot and cold [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Aesop].
  • Bhí caora aige ’á ghearadh suas: he was cutting a sheep up [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Aesop].
  • Is é céad rud a dhein sé ná iompáil go fíochmhar ar an bhfear a thug isteach as an bhfuacht é: the first thing it did was to ferociously turn on the man who brought it in out of the cold [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Aesop].
  • Is féidir dúinn a dteastuígheann dé do dhéanamh suas le gníomharthaibh aithríghe uainn féin, it is possible for us to make up for all that is lacking therein with penitential deeds of our volition [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, An Teagasg Críostaidhe].
  • Do thuit muinntir Shamaría agus muinntir Ierúsalem amach le n-a chéile, the people of Samaria and Jerusalem fell out with each other [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Críost Mac Dé].
  • Chómh héadtrom ar a chosaibh le cú, as light on his feet as a dog [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, An Craos-Deamhan].
  • ‘Ghá dhéanamh amach ná raibh oireamhnach do’n ídhbirt, making out they were not suitable for the sacrifice [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Críost Mac Dé].
  • Dá bhfeiceadh sé beirt i riocht tuitim amach le chéile, if he saw two people on the verge of falling out with each other [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Séadna].
  • Fuair sé é féin ullamh, he got himself ready [Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh, Scéalaíocht].
  • I ndeireadh an scéil, nuair a bhí sé a’ críochnú suas, at the end of the story, just as he was finishing up [Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh, Scéalaíocht].
  • A shlí a dhéanamh tríd a’ gcoill, to make its way through the wood [Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh, Scéalaíocht].
  • Dheineas suas m’aigne chun dul ann, I made up my mind to go there [Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, Scéal mo Bheatha].
  • Thug sí suas an scoil, she gave up the job at the school [Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, Scéal mo Bheatha].
  • D’fhéadfadh sé teacht agus lóisdín a thógaint sa tsráid, he could come and take up lodgings in the town [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Mo Sgéal Féin].
  • Oir bhí an Tighearna tar éis gach bruinne i dteaghlach Abimelech do dhúnadh suas mar gheall ar Shara, bean Abrahaim, for the Lord had closed up every womb of the house of Abimelech on account of Sara, Abraham’ s wife [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Bible translation, Genesis 20:18].
  • Imthighean Iacob. Leanan Laban é, agus tagan sé suas leis, Jacob’s departure: he is pursued and overtaken (caught up with) by Laban [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Bible translation, Genesis 31].
  • Conus mar a mhínig Ioseph na taibhrimhthe a deineadh do bheirt seirbhíseach le Pharao a bhí sa phrísún: agus gur tháinig an míniú fíor, how Joseph interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants in prison, and the interpretation came true [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Bible translation, Genesis 40].
  • Tré thalamh na h-Égipte go léir, díoltar an cúigmhadh cuid leis an rígh, agus tá sé tagaithe chun bheith ’n-a dhlígh, in the whole land of Egypt, the fifth part is paid to the king, and it is become (come to be) as a law [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Bible translation, Genesis 47:26].
  • Do thug sí aon eolas do fhéadfadh, she gave him any information she could [Amhlaoibh Ó Loíngsigh, Trí Scéal ó Mhúscraighe].
  • Nách mise tá chun iad a rith síos, I’m not the one seeking to run them down (i.e. criticise them) [Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, Aodh de Róiste].
  • Tóg chúghat bríc leathan agus cuir os do chómhair é, agus taraig air samhaltas catharach Ierúsalem, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee: and draw upon it the plan of the city of Jerusalem [Peadar Ua Laoghaire, Bible translation, Ezekiel 4:1].
  • Rite amach as min, run out of meal. [Cnósach Focal ó BB]
  • Rud éigin a bhrisfeadh an ciúnas, something that would break the silence [Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, Aodh de Róiste].
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One Response to Idioms that remind one of English idiom

  1. P. O Floinn says:

    Tá sé seo ag Seán O Ruadháin i Feasta – nár chóir “Bhain mé taitneamh as ….” a úsáid. N’fheadar ar tháinig an chaint seo as, “He took a shine to …” Nó ar tháinig an rud ón dtreo eile. Cad a cheapann duine éigin (éicin, éicín…)

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