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PostPosted: Mon 24 Oct 2011 10:28 pm 
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Lughaidh wrote:
Maybe it's "dá" in standard Irish then (instead of the á). I can't find my 'New Irish grammar'...

Nope. In the Caighdeán,  is only for the ‘normal’ standalone preposition do, not for the ‘prepocombosition’ ag/do used with the verbal noun.

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From this it can be seen that á is actually reduced from dhá = do + a, rather than from ag + a*, even though the latter is what it appears to replace grammatically.

It may help (or at least not hurt) to think of this as ag + a, but isn't the do + a derivation based on historical forms? It would seem a rather strange thing to make up otherwise!

It’s a mixture of both, actually.

In Middle Irish, do an ag were both used with verbal nouns. I don’t know if they initially arose in different dialects or how it came about, but they were soon completely mixed up and used seemingly at random, both for the continuous forms and for infinitive constructions. Then at some point (fairly late, perhaps even into the Modern Irish period? Not sure), a trend emerged to use ag for continuous forms and do in infinitive constructions with transitive verbs (ag ithe ‘eating’, but rud do dhéanamh ‘to do something’). The do was frequently lenited (as often happens in unstressed position) to dho, and subsequently reduced to just a (as it is in the standard language now, rud a dhéanamh).

However, by the time the uses of ag and do more or less settled this way, there had already arisen contracted forms of both prepositions with possessive adjectives (forms which, like do above, were frequently lenited and further reduced as well). And since many of these forms were no longer really recognisable as belonging to either ag or do proper, they kind of stayed in use as before, even when the general use of either preposition itself waned in particular structures. So this rather daunting maze of contracted forms remained in use (and many of them still remain in use as stylistic alternatives to the standard dialectal forms) for a long time.

Basically, the developments would have been something like these:

Ag:
gam > gham > am
gad/gat > ghad/ghat > ad/at
ga > gha > a
gár > ghár > ár
(gur/gbhur/ag bhur > ghur/ghmur/ag bhur > ur/mur/úr/bhur/ag bhur)
ga > gha > a


Do:
dom > dhom > om/am
dod/dot > dhod/dhot > od/ot | ad/at
dá > dhá > á
dár > dhár > ár
(do bhur > dho bhur > dhur/dho’ur/dhor)
dá > dhá > á


I’m sure both prepositions have at least a dozen other forms scattered around, but this kind of gives you an idea—and also an idea of how similar many of the forms became, particularly once lenition kicked in and gh/dh was no longer distinguishable. The forms are not linear forms (like gam becomes gham, which becomes am, at which point neither gam nor gham exist); rather, they all coexist(ed) as varying degrees of corruption of the ‘full’ forms. In the current dialects, some full forms are lost (the full forms of ag are, as far as I know, only used in Scottish Gaelic nowadays), while in other cases, reduced forms have been lost (I haven’t come across gham/ghad/ghat/dhod/dhot/a used in any current dialect, for example).

I assume (though I don’t know specifically) that this seemingly random mixture of initial d’s and g’s is what led to, e.g., the current Connemara situation, where you write do mo/do do, but the preposition is pronounced as [gə]. (Or is do usually pronounced [gə] in Connemara in general?)

The Caighdeán seems to have settled on a few forms that aren’t really used in any dialect at all (do mo/do do with the preposition pronounced as [də], for example), and others just from various dialects, more or less arbitrarily.

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Always wait for at least three people to agree on a translation, especially if it’s for something permanent.

My translations are usually GU (Ulster Irish), unless CO (Standard Orthography) is requested.


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PostPosted: Mon 24 Oct 2011 11:43 pm 
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kokoshneta wrote:
(Or is do usually pronounced [gə] in Connemara in general?)

Affirmative. :yes:

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WARNING: Intermediate speaker - await further opinions, corrections and adjustments before acting on my advice.
My "specialty" is Connemara Irish, particularly Cois Fhairrge dialect.
Is fearr Gaeilge ḃriste ná Béarla cliste, cinnte, aċ i ḃfad níos fearr aríst í Gaeilge ḃinn ḃeo na nGaeltaċtaí.
Gaeilge Chonnacht (GC), go háraid Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge (GCF), agus Gaeilge an Chaighdeáin Oifigiúil (CO).


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PostPosted: Tue 25 Oct 2011 9:08 am 
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Oh, so it's both, that's really interesting. I know old Munster writers used to use dá for the
passive and ghá for the active:
Táid 'ghá mbualadh = They are hitting them.
Táid dá mbualadh = They are being hit.

However I read that this distinction of 'ghá/dá is basically made up, does anybody here know why?

(Thanks for fixing the typo Breandán!)


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PostPosted: Tue 25 Oct 2011 8:36 pm 
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An Lon Dubh wrote:
However I read that this distinction of 'ghá/dá is basically made up, does anybody here know why?

Do you know if it was also pronounced correspondingly?

If yes, then at some point obviously g(h)á and d(h)á were assigned different roles in Munster. This is quite natural when you’ve got such a hodgepodge situation as these two prepositions long were: the speakers will avoid the hodgepodgeness of it all by simply (gradually) making up a distinction, which will then become fixed. Here, apparently the distinction that emerged would have been that ag is more active and do is more passive.

If there was no difference in pronunciation, then it’s just a case of another, similar, phenomenon: that of writers wishing the written language to be more precise and unambiguous than the spoken language has ever really been (especially if they observe that other languages make distinctions that their own language doesn’t). I can’t think of any good examples of this in English right now, but I can think of one from Chinese:

The dialect of Chinese that has become modern-day Standard Mandarin has always had just one pronoun in the third person: (traditionally written 他, whose significant part [the radical] is a person/man). However, since the Chinese came into contact with Indo-European languages and their ability to distinguish ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’, the writers of Mandarin felt that such a distinction should be had in Chinese, too. So they introduced 她 (which has a woman as its significant part/radical) and 它 (which is an older form of 他, without the personal radical) for ‘she’ and ‘it’. So Mandarin now have three different pronouns, just like the Indo-European languages: 他/她/它. But all of them are still pronounced , because obviously the spoken language never cared about the distinction.

Similarly, since Modern Irish really doesn’t quite have a specific passive voice, scribes could easily have thought that the English passive (which, despite also being a periphrastic construction, is closer to being a true passive) was something that ought to be distinguished in Irish, too—and voilà, you have an artificial distinction from out of nowhere.

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Always wait for at least three people to agree on a translation, especially if it’s for something permanent.

My translations are usually GU (Ulster Irish), unless CO (Standard Orthography) is requested.


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