Irish Language Blog

Six Ways to Say, “I Want Some More” in Irish (ag cur Gaeilge ar athfhriotal clúiteach Oilibhéir) Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Cad a deir Oilibhéar tar éis "Le do thoil, a dhuine uasail"? What would an Irish-speaking Oliver Twist say after "Le do thoil, a dhuine uasail ..." (Please, Sir, ...)

Cad a deir Oilibhéar tar éis “Le do thoil, a dhuine uasail”? What would an Irish-speaking Oliver Twist say after “Le do thoil, a dhuine uasail …” (Please, Sir, …)?

“Please, sir, …” ráite go truacánta.  And then what?  In the last blog (nasc thíos) , we talked about the “please” part of this sentence.  But there wasn’t enough room to include the different ways to say “I want” or “more.”  So here goes.

Our keywords could include the following: maith, díth, iarraidh, teastaigh, sá, and dóthain, and I’m sure there are other possibilities.

Before we plunge in, I’ll just note that there are some other words for “want” that deal more with abstractions (like “wanting patience”), something being missing (like a page in a book), or being “wanted” (by the police).  Those will have to be for blag éigin eile lá éigin eile.

So now, on to our main topic, “I want some more.”

I thought about several options but decided they didn’t seem quite right for the Dickensian context.   Of course, I’d be interested to hear what you think, a lucht léite an bhlag seo.  Oh, I nearly wanted to say, a lucht leite (which almost means “O porridge folks”) but of course, it would have to be “a lucht leitean” because of an tuiseal ginideach.  Hmmm.  Never underestimate the power of the “fada“!

Anyway, from porridge to parsing,

Ba mhaith liom tuilleadh, I would like (some) more.

Ba mhaith liom níos mó, I would like (some) more.

The words “tuilleadh” and “níos mó” both mean “more,” so that’s not the main focus of this blog.  They’re more or less interchangeable.  We’ll basically be dealing with the word “want.”

This option (“Ba mhaith“) strikes me as too polite for Oliver Twist’s situation.  Oliver doesn’t say, “I would like some more.”  He says, “I want some more.”  Curiously, a lot of people, including, at one point, myself, remembered the phrase as “May I have some more,” but apparently that’s not what the original Dickens text says.

Another choice for “want” could be “Tá tuilleadh de dhíth orm. ”  Nothing wrong with it grammatically, but it just doesn’t sound quite right for this context.  The phrase “de dhíth” [de yeeh, with a breathy “h” sound at the end but with the “t” silent) literally means “of want,” “of lack” (i.e. lacking), “of need,” or “of requirement” (hmmm, An Seomra Díthe ó shraith Harry Potter?  Ach sin ábhar blag eile).

So what’s option three?  The verb “iarraidh.”

Tá mé ag iarraidh tuillidh.  Hmmm.  More like “I’m asking for more” or “I’m requesting more.”  Again not quite the same.

Rogha a ceathair? (Option 4): the verb “teastaigh” (be wanted, be needed) as in “Teastaíonn cabhair ó na daoine sin,” (Those people need/help, lit. help is needed/wanted by/from  those people, but note that the sentence isn’t in the passive voice).  This verb often has a sense of necessity, as in “Teastaíonn tuilleadh uaim,” which sounds more like “I need more,” as if talking about supplies or money.  Another example is “Sin a raibh ag teastáil” (That is all that was necessary).

At this point, it seems time to veer away from the verb “want,” “be wanted,” and even ” would like.”  Let’s try a different tack for “I want some more.”

A very characteristic structure in Irish is to say, essentially, “I have my sufficiency,” “I didn’t get my sufficiency,” etc. There are several words for “sufficiency,” in Irish: dóthain and sáith (or ““).  I know that sounds a bit awkward as translated, but it’s important to remember that we’re not simply saying, “I didn’t get enough.”  Literally, we’re saying, “I didn’t get ‘my’ enough,” which obviously doesn’t work in English grammar.  The possessive adjective is required here in Irish.

So, for the remaining roghanna (choices), we’ll use quite a different structure:

Ní bhfuair mé mo sháith.”

Níl mo dhóthain agam.”

And some more examples of “sáith” and “dóthain” in some other contexts:

Tá bean in Éirinn a phronnfadh séad domh is mo sháith le n-ól” (ón amhrán, “Mná na hÉireann”):  There is a woman in Ireland who would bestow treasures and my sufficiency of drink upon me. (from the song, “Women of Ireland”)

Tá mo shá ólta agam, I’ve drunk enough, lit. My sufficiency is drunk at (i.e. by) me

sáith rí de chaisleán, a castle fit for a king, lit. a king’s sufficiency of a castle

dóthain rí de bhéile, a meal fit for a king, lit. a king’s sufficiency of a meal

Tá a seacht ndóthain le rá aici, She talks far too much

So for Oliver Twist, my vote is to bypass the word “want,” as such, and use either “,” “sáith,” or “dóthain.”  I think it conveys the directness of Oliver’s request, “I want some more.”  So we could say either:

Níl mo sháith agam.” or

Níl mo dhóthain agam.”

Barúlacha ar bith agaibh, a lucht léite an bhlag seo?  Now that I’ve gotten this far with the topic, I’d like to find out how this has been  or could be expressed in other languages as well.  Which could keep me busy for quite a while, given the nearly six thousand languages (sé mhíle teanga) that exist in the world.  Never a dull moment!  Even if the “leite” was more like “praiseach.”  SGF — Róislín

Nasc: (6 Bealtaine 2014).  Discusses “le do thoil” and “más é do thoil é,” amonst other phrases.

Gluais: béile, meal; cabhair, help; caisleán, castle; leite, porridge (leitean, of porridge); praiseach, thin porridge; , king

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  1. Aine:

    Rogha eile do Oilibhéar, ceann simplí a fheileanns go maith agus é ag lorg tuille bia: “Tá níos mó uaim.”

    “Lurk”álaim anseo go minic, agus bainim an-taithneamh as a mbíonn dá phlé agat. Rath Dé ar an obair!

    • róislín:

      @Aine A ‘Lurkálaí, a chara,
      Sin smaoineamh maith freisin. Tá áthas orm go mbíonn tú ag ‘lurk’áil anseo. Go raibh maith agat!

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