A Tale of Three Translations

I was watching the news yesterday, and there was a story about the stone in the image above, which features the lyrics of the song “Galway Bay” in English, Latin, Irish, and French. It was erected, appropriately enough, in my hometown of Galway last year, overlooking Galway Bay, as part of a poetry trail featuring similar plaques with translations of works by different Irish writers. Funnily, I wasn’t really aware of the content of the plaque until yesterday, even though for most of last year I lived very close to it, and in fact passed it practically every day. I had seen it alright, but in my defence, I was usually cycling, driving, or running, so never really stopped to look at it, and there are many little cultural markers like that around the city, so you do kind of get used to them.


The offending plaque, as it is now, in storage

Anyway, the issue with the plaque was with the Irish-language translation. A few months after it was erected, An Coimisinéir Teanga (the Language Commissioner) received a complaint about the quality of the Irish translation, which suggested that it didn’t capture the spirit of the original English-language lyrics. In a report, An Coimisinéir stated that there were approximately 40 errors in the 20 lines of the Irish version. I found this quite shocking, so had a look at the lyrics myself.

Continue reading

To a T

I imagine that you would have no trouble identifying the sound of the letter T, if I asked you. Or any other letter of the alphabet, for that matter. If you’re young enough, you might still remember the chart on the wall of your primary-school classroom, which perhaps said T for Teddy Bear, or Train. But take a moment to say a few words to yourself featuring the letter T. Not only that, include a variety of words with T at the beginning, middle, and end. I’m quite confident that one or two of those sounds didn’t quite sound like the classic T sound you imagined at the beginning.

Let’s look at the following sentence: Continue reading

Knowledge is Power

What does it mean to know something, or someone? To know is such a common verb that we use all the time, but when you really look into it, it becomes quite complex.

Defining it seems fairly straightforward: it means to understand something, or generally have knowledge about something. But consider the two following sentences: Continue reading

Doing Dutch with Duolingo: Klomp!

I feel like it’s been ages since I started using Duolingo, but it’s really become part of my daily routine. The only real gap was last week when I was on holiday last week. Overall, things are still going ok, but I’m beginning  to feel much more like a typical learner of English feels, and my complaints are really starting to mirror theirs. Continue reading