Irish Language Blog

Ó Abair An Léir Dhuit, Véarsa 3: Oh, Say Can You See, 3rd verse (Amhrán Náisiúnta na Stát Aontaithe) Posted by on Jun 24, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

By now maybe you’ve made your way through the first verse of “An Bhratach Gheal-Réaltach” (The Star-Spangled Banner) and proceeded on to the less frequently sung second one, presented in the two recent blogs (naisc thíos).  But, mar a déarfadh Ron Popeil (dá mbeadh Gaeilge aige), “Ach fan, tá a thuilleadh ann!”  Yes, tá dhá véarsa eile ann cé nach gcantar go minic iadSeo véarsa a trí, mar a d’aistrigh an tAthair Ó Gramhnaigh é sa bhliain 1898.  As with the previous two verses, I’m adding a pronunciation guide, my own literal translation of the Irish back into English, and a glossary.  Francis Scott Key’s original lines are in italics in each box.  They rhyme, naturally; my literal “back-translation” doesn’t rhyme and isn’t meant to.

A further note here for singers (as opposed to foghraithe, teangeolaithe, sintéiseoirí cainte agus a leithéidí): this pronunciation guide is really designed for singing, not for individual analysis of focail or siollaí.  In most cases, in fact, I’ve transcribed the sounds as I would also speak them (not trying to fit a meter), since it seems to work.  Occasionally, though, I’ve made the words flow together even more than may be typical in speech, as for example in:

‘S tá an bhratach gheal-réaltach [stawn VRAH-tukh YA-AL-RAYL-tukh]

I’ve collapsed the first three words (‘s tá an) into one sound (“stawn”), since it’s more singable that way (IMThF, ar a laghad).

One or two more notes before plunging into the text:

a) Maidir leis an bhfocal “drong” – does it look or sound familiar (even before you peek at the translation)?  If it does, that’s because it’s a direct parallel to the English word “throng.”  Remember, the initial Irish broad “d” sound has a dental quality, with the tongue pressed against the back of the upper teeth, so it’s not surprising that the English equivalent has a “hard th” sound.

b) Maidir leis an bhfocal Béarla “vauntingly”: I think “go teann” was a good choice here, given the context.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything described as occurring “vauntingly” in actual spoken English.  The ordinary Irish words for “vaunting” (if anything about the word “vaunting” could be described as “ordinary”) are “maíteach” and “gaisciúil.”

Maíteach, sometimes spelled “maoiteach” [MWEE-tchukh] means both “boastful” or “begrudging.”  You might remember the word from the catchy, semi-rhyming phrase “cuíosach gan a bheith maíteach” (lit. fair/middling without being boastful). And btw, please do note the síneadh fada in the first spelling given for this word, a near-look-alike to “maiteach” [MWATCH-ukh], which means “forgiving” or “forgiven” (!), based on the verb “maith” (forgive).

Gaisciúil” [GASH-kyoo-il] can have both a positive and a negative sense in Irish, meaning either “warlike/valiant” or “vainglorious/boastful.” The noun on which it is based, “gaisce” [GASH-kyuh], can also have a neutral/positivish implication or a negative one (neutral: arms, weapons; positive: a feat of arms; negative: bravado, showing off, or, as I’m tickled to note, “swank.”)

And where’s that “vaunting” from anyway?  Apparently from Latin “vanus” (“vain” — That figures!).  Hmm, you’re so “vaunting”? As in, “you probably think this song is about you!”  — sin definitely ábhar blag eile!

All that before we even get to the text!  Well, ar aon chaoi, you’ll be well prepared now to discuss braggadocio in Irish!  We might even need the word “glóirdhíomhaoineach” [GLOH-irzh-YEE-WEEN-yukh, vainglorious] someday.  I can’t wait!  All sesquipedalian interests aside, seo an téacs, agus sin é go dtí an chéad véarsa eile (agus sa chás seo “an chéad véarsa eile” also is “an véarsa deireanach,” SGF, Róislín

Gaeilge agus Treoir Fhuaimnithe Aistriúchán Focal ar Fhocal (NB: very literal!) agus faoi sin, an gnáth-théacs i mBéarla
An Bhratach Gheal-réaltach, Véarsa 3 The Star-Spangled Banner, Verse 3
Mini-Guide to the Transcription System: a) “rzh” like the “r” in English “tree;” b) “le” like “let,” not like French “le;” c) “kh” like German “Buch,” Welsh “bach,” Scottish “Loch;” this sound isn’t in std. English; d) “uh” like the “u” in “putt,” not like “put” or German “Huhn;” e) “oo” like English “fool” or “cool;” f) “hy” like English “human,” “hew,” or “hue,” NOT like “hydrogen” or Welsh “hylo;” g) “dh” please see the June 18, 2012 blog
1a Is cad d’éirigh don drong                             [iss kahd a DAYR-ee dun drong] And what happened to that throng                         (And where is that band)
1b a thug mionna go teann                                  [uh hug MIN-nuh go tchawn] Who gave oaths strongly                                 (who so vauntingly swore,)
2a Go bhfágfadh gan tír                            [guhWAWG-huh gahn tcheerzh] That they would leave [us] without a country         (That the havoc of war)
2b sinn gan áras ‘na sheasamh?                        [shin gahn AW-rus nuh HASS-uv] Us without a building standing?                         (and the battle’s confusion)
3a Is go dtabharfaidís léan leo,                         [sguh DOR-hidj-eesh layn lyoh] And that they would bring grief with them,           (A home and a country)
3b is leatrom is lann?                                           [iss LAT-rom iss lahn] And oppression and blade                            (should leave us no more)
4a Ó, do scrios a gcuid fola                                  [oh duh shkriss uh gwidj FOL-uh] Oh, their share of blood destroyed                     (Their blood has wash’d out)
4b rian gránna a gcosa.                                     [REE-un GRAW-nuh uh guss-uh] The ugly track of their feet                                      (their foul footsteps’ pollution)
5a Níl cara ná cáil                                                    [neel KAH-ruh naw kaw-il] There is no friend or reputation                         (No refuge could save)
5b ag fealltóir ná tráill,                                         [egg FYAWL-toh-irzh naw TRAW-il] At a traitor or a thrall                                            (the hireling and slave)
6a San uaigneas, san uaigh,                                 [sun OO-ig-nyuss, sun OO-ee] In the loneliness, in the grave,                        (From the terror of flight)
6b níl a bhfoscadh le fáil!                                   [neel uh WOS-kuh le faw-il] There’s no shelter available (from it)                    (or the gloom of the grave)
7a ‘S tá an bhratach gheal-réaltach                      [stawn VRAH-tukh YA-AL-RAYL-tukh] And the star-spangled banner is                        (And the star-spangled banner)
7b go buach go síor                                               [guh BOO-OO-uh-ukh guh-uh shee-ur] Victoriously eternally                                                (in triumph doth wave)
8a Os cionn thír na gcrógach                            [us kyun HEERzh nuh groh-GUKH] O’er the country of the brave                                (O’er the land of the free)
8b is talamh na saor!                                               [ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer] And the land of the free!                                     (And the home of the brave!)

Gluais 1 (only the words that weren’t glossed in the previous two blogs)

1 Áras Building, house 18 Lann Blade
2 Cad? What? 19 Léan Grief
3 Cáil reputation 20 Leatrom Oppression, unevenness
4 Cara Friend 21 Leo With them
5 Cos; a gcosa Foot; *their feet 22 Mionn, mionna Oath(s)
6 Cuid Share, portion 23 ‘na sheasamh Standing (in its standing)
7 D’éirigh + do Happened to 24 nor
8 Do (past tense marker, untranslated) 25 Níl Isn’t; there isn’t
9 Drong Group, throng 26 Rian Track, trail (n)
10 Fág; go bhfágfadh Leave; that (they) would leave 27 San In the
11 Fáil getting 28 Scrios; do scrios Destroyed: no difference in meaning
12 Fealltóir Traitor 29 Sinn We, us
13 Foscadh; a bhfoscadh Shelter; their shelter 30 Tabhair; Go dtabharfaidís Give; they would give
14 Fuil; fola Blood; of blood 31 Tráill Thrall, slave
15 Gan Without 32 Thug Gave
16 Go teann Strong, tight, firm 33 Uaigh Grave (n)
17 Gránna Ugly 34 Uaigneas Loneliness

*Iarsmaoineamh (28 Eanáir 2015): For “rian gránna a gcosa,” we see “a gcosa” for “(of) their feet.”  The official modern standard form for this would be “a gcos,” without the final “-a.”  But at the time Ó Gramhnaigh’s translation was made, the Caighdeán Oifigiúil didn’t exist yet.  Many words had numerous variations in spelling and grammatical treatment.  In fact, many still do, even after the spelling reforms of the 1950s.  It’s impossible to know now whether Ó Gramhnaigh was debating between “a gcosa” and “a gcos,” but he may have felt, as I do, that “a gcosa” flows better.  Pairing “gránna” with “gcosa” not only creates some alliteration (g + g), but the two “-a” endings create a loose sort of end rhyme.  And, while we’re at it, vowels are widely recognized as being easier to sing, mar is eol do na hIodálaigh!   

Gluais 2 (don “réamhrá”): cantar, is/are sung; foghraithe [FOW-rih-huh], phoneticians; sintéiseoirí [SHIN-TAYSH-ow-irzh-ee], synthesizers; teangeolaithe [TCHANG-OHL-ih-huh], linguists

The links for the two previous blog articles, le véarsaí a haon agus a dó, are:

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