Yesterday we got stuck into the first part of Seán Bán Breathnach’s epic commentary on Katie Taylor’s gold medal fight. Seconds out, round two!
Ó, a leithéid de bhean. Dúirt mé cheanna orthu, laochra na hÉireann - Maud Gonne, Gráinne Úaile, Mary Robinson, Máire Mac an tSaoí - tar isteach, seo í an bhean -
Oh, what a woman. I said already, heroes of Ireland – Maud Gonne, Gráinne Úaile, Mary Robinson, Máire Mac an tSaoí – come in, this is the women -
I’m not at all sure about the grammar of “leithéid de bhean,” but again, this is spoken in the white heat of excitement – we’re not always grammatical in English when we’re roaring. The tuiseal ginideach is here again – “laochra na hÉireann,” heroes of Ireland. Most people get thick when the British refer to Éire – Éire is the correct nominative form of Ireland in the Irish language. Surprise!
Tá an Rúiseach ag gáire - níl aon fhonn gháire ar an Rúiseach. Tá crá uirthí, tá colgach uirthí, tá sí lán d'éad, agus dúirt sí aréir go raibh deich pointe ag Katie sula dtiocfadh sí isteach sa bhfáinne ar chur ar bith. A leithéid de sheafóid! A leithéid de bhean. Katie Taylor!
The Russian is laughing – the Russian has no interest in laughing. She’s tormented, she’s angry, she’s full of jealousy, and she said last night that Katie had ten points before she got into the ring at all! What rubbish! What a woman, Katie Taylor!
Sofya Ochigava didn’t spare the trash-talking before the fight and SBB is inclined to take that stuff personally. When he sees her with a puss on her after the decision was announced he lets her have both barrels. Again, I’m not sure about two of the words, and I’m guessing “crá” and “colgach” – torment and anger. I’d say I’m fairly close.
“An Rúis” is the Irish for Russia, so “Rúiseach” is a Russian. It works for countries and for surnames, probably going back to when clans were their own states, more or less. Sasana, an Sasanach. Ó Brádaigh, an Brádach. Ó Ceallaigh, an Ceallach. Francach is a Frenchman, but it also means a rat. Puns exist in Irish too.
I’m not sure myself about the precision of the grammar in the last three of SBB’s sentences. But again, it’s spoken word and I’m not that clever, really.
Agus dáiríre, tá mé ag tráchtaireacht, a lucht eisteachta, le dhá scór bliain ach seo é an ócáid atá is giorra do mo chroí riamh sa tsaol, go bhfuil an bean seo 'théis craobh Olympic a thabhairt léi. Marach í, ní bheadh aon chraobh - ní bheadh aon bhean san Olympics.
And seriously, I’m commentating, listeners, for forty years but this is the occasion that is closest to my heart ever in life, that this woman is after taking an Olympic title. Without her, there wouldn’t be any title - there wouldn't be any woman in the Olympics.
This is where the commentary comes into its own, and SBB’s own personality comes out. The man’s a big softie, really. “Lucht” is a crowd, or group, so “lucht eisteachta” means “group of the listening.” There are no prizes for guessing what grammatical feature this is. Also here we see the phrase “tar éis,” after, contracted to “’théis.” Contraction is quite common in Irish, and we’ll see more of it.
Agus anois tá brat na hÉireann ag Katie Taylor, tá sí ag dul timpeall an fháinne. Sár-throid, níl aon cheist faoi cé hí an dara duine is fearr sa ndomhan - 'sí Ochigava an dara duine is fearr sa ndomhan, ach ag deireadh an lae, níl aon mhaith bheith ar an dara duine is fearr sa ndomhan mar 'sí Katie Taylor an duine is fearr sa ndomhan!
And now Katie Taylor has the flag of Ireland, she’s going around the ring. A fantastic fight, there’s no question who’s the second-best in the world – it’s Ochigava who’s second best in the world, but at the end of the day, it's no good being second best in the world because it’s Katie Taylor who’s the best in the world!
SBB is still pissed with Ochigava and her big mouth. Happily, it’s not all bad because here we see another of the primary features of Irish as a language – the fact there are two words for the verb “to be.”
If something is inherent to a thing, something that is essential to its very being, it’s rendered as “is fear é,” “is bean í,” – he is a man, he is a woman. If the something is something that can change, you say “tá sé caol,” “tá sé ramhar” – he is thin, he is fat. When Seán says “’sí Ochigava an dara duine” it’s a contraction of “is í Ochigava.” The two verbs for “to be” are another source of schoolroom torture, because there’s no equivalent in English. Spanish has the same system, yet it doesn’t seem to knock a stir out of them. On me head Xavi, on me head!
Phew. All worn out after that. Come back tomorrow for the last round-up.