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 Post subject: translation for a dirk
PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug 2012 4:34 pm 
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Hello everyone. I'm getting married in October and the ceremony is going to be mix of modern and ancient traditions with a heavy Scottish influence. I will be in full Highland formal attire, and in addition I am having a Scottish dirk made to bring it all together. This dirk will be an heirloom piece that will be passed down to my children, and I am having the MacNeil clan motto etched onto the blade.

Clan mottos were typically written in one of four languages: Latin, used by the church and scholars, English, heraldic French, and most rarely Gaelic. I'm descended from the MacNeils of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, which even today has a very high Scottish Gaelic speaking population. Though rare on period originals, I felt that given my heritage that the motto should be written in Scottish Gaelic.

The clan motto is: "Conquer or Die", and most websites list the translation as "buaidh no bas" for Scottish Gaelic. I did my own research and found the term "bas" to mean "palm" in Scottish Gaelic and the term "die" translated as "bàsaich". At this point, I really don't know what to think, as I am certainly no linguist.

I really want to get a proper Scottish Gaelic translation of the motto. After all, this dirk is a high quality piece and I'd hate to ruin it with an improper translation. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

- JM


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PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug 2012 6:07 pm 
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Hi, Josh. Welcome to the forum. :wave: We only have a few Scottish Gaelic speakers here so you may have to wait a little until one of them logs on.

I have very little Scottish Gaelic (SG), but I think buaidh no bas is missing an accent or two. Bua nó Bás would be "Victory or Death" in Irish Gaelic (but be aware that the accent usage is different from SG). This paraphrasing is necessary in Irish Gaelic because the verb for "die" is phrasal faigh bás "receive death". I suspect something similar will affect the SG translation.

Definitely wait for correction to the SG translation you found.

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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 28 Aug 2012 6:13 pm 
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Possibly Buaidh no bàs but definitely wait for confirmation.


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PostPosted: Tue 28 Aug 2012 7:06 pm 
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Quote:
Possibly Buaidh no bàs but definitely wait for confirmation.


Scooby got it spot on. In addition to Scottish Gaelic using "grave" accents (slanting down to the right), rather than the "acute" accents used in Irish (slanting down to the left), modern Scottish Gaelic does without accents in some cases where Irish uses them (it's partly related to pronunciation differences), although sometimes they are still there in older Scottish Gaelic writings. So, no accent on the word no in Gaelic, but there is one in bàs. And, by the way, the word for "palm" is bas, without the accent. A good example of why accents really matter in Gaelic.

Note that, as Breandán pointed out, buaidh no bàs (he gave you the Irish version, bua nó bás) actually means "victory or death". The Gaelic languages are very noun-oriented, so that's why "conquer or die", which is made up of verbs, sounds better (and is shorter) in Gaelic as "victory or death", which uses only nouns.

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I'm not a native (or entirely fluent) speaker, so be sure to wait for confirmations/corrections, especially for tattoos.


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PostPosted: Thu 30 Aug 2012 3:41 pm 
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Thanks for the replies everyone. This is my first voluntary foray into foreign language, and I must say it's very interesting. So to clarify, the correct SG translation would be "Buaidh no bàs"? That's the translation I see most frequently on clan badges and such, but usually missing the accent over the a in "bàs".


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PostPosted: Thu 30 Aug 2012 10:25 pm 
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Josh MacNeil wrote:
Thanks for the replies everyone. This is my first voluntary foray into foreign language, and I must say it's very interesting. So to clarify, the correct SG translation would be "Buaidh no bàs"? That's the translation I see most frequently on clan badges and such, but usually missing the accent over the a in "bàs".

It's definitely bàs with the accent.

Buaidh no bas without the accent would be "victory or a slap" or even "victory or the flat of the blade", not quite the same thing, you see? :LOL:

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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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