A pretty simple word, really, but a couple of months ago I began to think about how nuanced it is. Continue reading
This evening I was at my parents’ house, watching a little TV after Sunday dinner. I don’t really watch much TV anymore, at least not in the conventional broadcast sense, apart from Sunday afternoons at home. Gaelic football matches are the usual background noise to Sunday-afternoon dinner, but we had it a bit later today, so I found myself watching an interesting nature programme.
Good question. And I think it’s one I’ve answered here and there across different posts, if not all in one go. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself more often recently.
He’s a dark horse, isn’t he?
How would you describe the expression a dark horse to somebody who’d never heard it before? After thinking for a moment, you might say it’s a person of hidden depths or secret talents/opinions, someone who achieves something when no-one expected that they might. You might give an example of a quiet student in a language class who suddenly speaks confidently and fluently in an oral exam.
Learning any language is never easy. It takes a lot of time, and patience, and practice. But above all, it requires mental readjustment. And that’s the part that a lot of people find the most difficult.
Isn’t that just the classic signifier or a stupid, or at least uneducated, person? How could they possibly confuse these two antonyms? And of course this mistake is especially ironic as it’s related to education and learning. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to make themselves feel smarter by noting how people make this mistake but you don’t, perhaps you need to rethink how wrong these people actually are.
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.
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.