Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Bridging the Divide

The newspapers have two stories about Irish-language signage this week. In the first, in the Newry Times, Caitríona Ruane decries vandalism against signs on the main Hilltown to Mayobridge Road.

Meanwhile, the Kerryman reports on a brouhaha regarding the correct Irish version of the place-name Farmers Bridge, which has been rendered as Droichead Farmer on the advice of

If the "Farmer" in the English version is a proper name, the translation is, of course, entirely correct, whereas if it is a generic "farmer" or "farmers", it is wrong. Many local residents will no doubt have taken it to be the latter regardless of the truth of the matter. It might, of course, help if English place-name signs had apostrophes, but the convention seems to be that they don't.

Those with long memories will remember that luminaries of the Ulster-Scots Language Society once got into a spot of cognate bother when they translated Belfast's Beersbridge Road as "Yillbrig Road", which must have come as something of a surprise to Mr. Beers.

Unfortunately, the Kerryman blots is copybook somewhat with the following.
"This has led to some puzzlement among local gaeilgeoirs who suggest that the true translation of the name should probably be 'Droichead an Feirmeoir' or something similar."
Well, similar, yes, and no doubt, to those who are semi-conversant in the language, acceptable. Just not to those grammarians who haven't read I dTreo Teanga Nua.

And with that the newspaper sums up Ireland's problem with Irish. Even in a Gaeltacht county, it seems that no one working for the newspaper had the nous to ask a native speaker about the correct form.

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