Monday, April 20, 2015

Scríobhann “Myles” na gCapaillín

Our correspondent Myles na Gopaleen writes:

The other day a writer on the leader page of The Irish Times referred to the revival of the Irish language, not, indeed, for the first or last time in our rough island story. He said:
Surely the Government has realised by this time that it is very far from an easy task to eliminate and extend the use of the Irish language [sic] [sic] in place of English. The task would be hard enough in normal years […] but at such a time as the present, when children all over the world are trying to keep pace with an influx of new words as a result of the war news bulletins, it becomes well-nigh impossible. Parents who confine the family meal-time discussions to conversations in Irish must find it very difficult to explain such words as air-raid warden, incendiary bomb, non-aggression pact, decontamination, and Molotoff bread-basket. […]
One can imagine the stormy philological breakfasts that obtain in the households of the Gael:

Mother: Anois, a Sheáin, caith do chuid bracháin.

Shawn Beg (peering into The Irish Times): Ní maith liom brachán agus ní réidhtigheann sé le mo ghoile. Cuir Gaeidhilg ar ‘Molotoff bread-basket’ le do thoil.

Mother: Anois, a Sheáin, bí suaimhneach agus caith do bhreicfeasta. Ní fhásfaidh tú aníos gan brachán agus bainne.

Shawn Beg: Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon Ghaeidhilg ar ‘Molotoff bread-basket’. Ní’l sa Ghaeidhilg seo acht sean chanamhain ghagach. Cad chuige nach dtig linn Béarla a labhairt sa teach seo?

Mother: Mura mbíonn tú ’do thost ní bhfuighidh tú do phighin Dia Sathairn. Caith do brachán!

Shawn Beg: But, Maw! What’s Molotoff bread-basket?

Mother: BI DO THOST, ADEIRIM!

Shawn Beg: Aw Maw, maith go leor. Ní chaithfead brachán go deo agus ní bheith aon mheas agam feasta ar Ghaedhlaibh.

Mother (leading with her right): Bhéarfad-sa Molotoff bread-basket duit, a thaisce, a aingilín léigheanta.

—“Cruiskeen Lawn”, The Irish Times, 4 October 1940

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(A passable translation.)
—Now, Shawn, eat your bit of porridge.
—I don’t like porridge and it doesn’t sit well in my stomach. Put ‘Molotoff bread-basket’ into Irish, if you please.
—Now, Shawn, be quiet and eat your breakfast. You won’t grow up without porridge and milk.
—I don’t think there’s any Irish for ‘Molotoff bread-basket’. This Irish is nothing but an old dried-up language. Why can’t we speak English in this house?
—Unless you be quiet, you won’t get your Saturday penny. Eat your porridge!
But, Maw! What’s Molotoff bread-basket?
—BE QUIET, I SAY!
—Aw Maw, alright. I won’t ever eat porridge, and I won’t have any more opinions about Irish.
I’ll give you a Molotoff bread-basket, my dear, my learned little angel.