Welcome (or indeed, welcome back) to the Gaeilge Chun Cinn newsletter. This being our second edition, we can now proudly state that we have doubled our output since our last publication. Cause for celebration? Perhaps.
In this post, we talk about our ongoing work with Hollow Knight, which has taken an interesting turn in the last couple of weeks. Turning to our translation tips and insights, Cormac has compiled two articles on the nuance of drifting and falling in Irish, and one of our less experienced translators, Gary, discusses a minor eureka moment he had in his language-learning journey.
As will always be the case, at the bottom of this post you will find five English sentences to test your translation skills. Our own solutions for last week’s problems are also given. Have a bash, and if you’re thirsty for more why not email us and help with our work? We’re always looking for more translators, be it beginners or veterans.
Since the last edition, our Hollow Knight project has pressed ahead, although much of our focus has been on planning for the next wave of translations.
The majority of work we have left to do involves translating character dialogue. While we could do this in the same manner as the UI and Journal text, an interesting prospect crossed our minds: Hallownest is divided into several distinct regions, with these regions being populated by a diverse range of unique creatures. These creatures have alliances and enmities all described by the game’s deep lore. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if characters from different regions, or belonging to different factions spoke different dialects of Irish!?
leis na gnéithe is suntasaí sna canúintí a dhéanamh amach. Ní haon iontas é go gcuireann seo an obair go mór i ndeacracht orainn, ach ná ligeadh sin ár ndóchas a bhaint dínn. Is mó leas a bhainfidh imreoirí as dul na cluichíochta seo! Is smaoineamh nua é seo agus cé go bhfuil ár gcroí istigh sa smaoineamh seo, tá muid fós ag déanamh amach cén chaoi ar fearr dúinn a thabhairt faoin smaoineamh misniúil seo.
In terms of raw translation, we’ve decided to pick groups of characters which we will all focus on in a series of sprints to get this project done. For the next week or two, we’re going to work on Charm Lover Salubra, Elderbug and Confessor Jiji, who were all chosen somewhat arbitrarily. This seems like the best way for us to focus our efforts and continue making appreciable progress towards a finished Hollow Knight translation.
There have been other happenings, rumblings, and goings-on but unfortunately I have hit my word count, so you’ll have to wait until the next edition to hear about them.
Written by Cormac
There are many different types of “bugs” in Hollow Knight - some that resemble soldiers, citizens, and even bushes, but there are still others that resemble animals, who opt neither to fly or charge in for an attack but rather drift gently through the air while spilling dangerous venom. This raised the question amongst our team members as to how might “drifting” be expressed in Irish. A quick search will show that there is no one clear verb for “drift” in Irish, so similarly to what we did in Iris #1 – Fainic focal ar fhocal, we investigated the fundamental meaning of the action and found the Irish equivalent to be highly nuanced. Here’s one example from Hollow Knight
“Does it realise what a nuisance it is? Drifting around, spilling its noxious juices everywhere it goes? If you see any, make sure to kill them.”
We found that “drift” was used in the sense of “floating aimlessly” or “without a set destination” as a leaf might in the wind. This gave us a much better footing for a search on Teanglann, and we found “titim faoin ngaoth” - literally “fallen under the wind” to be a suitable option as:
- One rarely falls with an aim in mind, and;
- Of all nature’s forces , the wind would surely lead one away into uncertainty.
Satisfied with our find, we set about translating:
“Tite faoin ngaoth, a leachtanna docharacha á ndoirteadh sa chuile áit a dtéann sé. Maraigh iad is bíodh beag trócaire agat orthu.”
But this was only one instance of “drifting” - we wanted to see if our “titim faoin ngaoth” could be a catch-all phrase, or if we needed to have several different translations, thus we compared it to other instances, such as:
“They usually drift about peacefully, but sometimes they cluster together and spit out a sharp, crackling flash…”
Here more direction was involved - “titim faoin ngaoth” did not seem to fit as well. Luckily, Teanglann had another in “lig le sruth” - literally “let with current”, a similar general meaning to “titim faoin ngaoth”, but with more direction.. This resulted in the following translation
“De ghnáth, ligeann siad le sruth go síochánta, ach uaireanta teagann siad le chéile agus caitheann siad bladhm ghéar chnagarnach uathu…”
On another note, English also uses “drifting” in a more metaphorical sense posing yet another problem, with phrases such as:
“I wonder, what will come flying out of me when I die? Will my hopes and fears drift away into the darkness?”
One may think of “drifting hopes and fears” as though hopes and fears once linked to a living mind now begin to fall away - here neither of the above seemed to fit the context, but we had a perfect candidate in “imeacht in éag” - or “to wither away”. This gives us:
“Meas tú céard a eitleoidh amach asam nuair a bhásóidh mé? An imeoidh mo dhóchas agus m’fhaitíos in éag sa dorchadas?”
Here we can easily see how words that in English cover a large variety of different expressions cannot be covered by the same expression when we translate them into Irish - to ensure that we have the same broad meaning, sometimes we have to be a bit more creative with our translations.
Written by Cormac
It's rather common to use “fall” as a means of expressing defeat or death in English, especially poetically. Poetic phrasing abounds in Hollow Knight, as we can see from the following:
“Their bodies are brittle and will easily fall to your nail.”
Like many translations, the equivalent expression in Irish cannot quite be translated directly and one might be tempted to use “titim”. Personally, I don’t think “titim do do thairne” is too bad of a translation,but I’m sure we can do better, right? Teanglann proposed a good and native solution - “bás de thairne agat” - literally “death by the nail by you”, giving us: ,
“Tá a gcoirp briosc agus básfaidh siad de thairne agat gan stró.”
Not half-bad! In fact, this sort of sentence structure is quite common (and simple) in Irish, you might be familiar with expressions such as “rud a dhéanmh de láimh” - “to do a thing by hand”, and covers a broad range of meanings.
Written by Gary
Nuair a bhí mé óg, is cuimhin liom ar éigean na céad focla Gaeilge dár fhoghlaim mé ariamh. Chroch mo mhúinteoir póstaer ar bhalla ár seomra ranga agus pictiúir éagsúla air le daoine ag ithe, ina chodhladh agus ag siúl. D’fhótheidil sí na pictiúir leis na nathanna Gaeilge sin faoi chuile phictiúr. Tá sé barrúil nuair a mheabhraítear na meandair fhánacha seo den tráth oideachais, agus fós féin tá sé níos barrúla nuair a chuireann na focla is bunúsaí dubh-iontas ort, focla a d’fhoghlaimíteá nuair nárbh ionat ach gasúr!
Ba é ceann de na céad focla a d’fhoghlaim “agus” – an cónasc an-chabhrach sin a ligeann do ghasúr a scéal inseacht in aon anáil amháin. Bhaininn an tuiscint i gcónaí nárbh in “agus” ach nath atá go díreach cóibéasach le “and” sa mBéarla. Ach nuair a thosaigh mé ag athfoghlaim na Gaeilge mar dhuine fásta, thug mé faoi deara gur tháinig an focal “agus” aníos go minic in abairtí nach raibh mé ag súil leis. Seo eiseamlár de thús abairte a fuair mé ó Oideas Gael anuraidh:
“Agus an samhradh thart, tá áthas orainn cúpla dea-scéal a roinnt libh sa nuachtlitir seo.”
How unusual. “And the summer is over” as an opening sentence? It took me a while before I realised that “agus” can also be used in a similar manner to the English “as” such as:
- Agus tú ag imeacht… – As you are leaving
- Agus lá te atá ann… – As it is a hot day
- Agus iad ag eitilt – As they are flying
Obviously thinking in terms of these one-to-one translations isn’t always a good idea, but I do like it when I find these connections between functions of words in different languages. I’m a simple man by nature, so this little eureka moment blew my tiny brain to a sufficient degree that I thought it was worth writing about here. Agus an píosa seo thart, fágaim slán agat!
Translations for the Reader
Below are five sentences for you to try your hand at. These all come from our Hollow Knight project and were a ton of fun to work on. We’ll post our own translations in the next edition. Good luck!
- Found only in deep, dark places. Has never been observed to eat or drink anything.
- Fragments of void taking the shape of sharp, thrashing tendrils.
- Simple flying creature protected by a spikey shell.*
- Flying predator that pursues its prey relentlessly.
- The light, forgotten.
* Note that in this context, a “creature” is usually an insect, arachnid, or another form of creepy-crawly.
Translations for the Previous Edition
Here are our translations for the last newsletter’s sentences. It’s important to emphasize that there is no one truly correct answer when it comes to translation. This is just how we chose to do it. If you have come up with a different approach you think fits better, feel free to reach out to us. Or, even better, come work with us!
- Bheifeá i d’amadán dá mbuailfeadh planda bob ort. [You really would have to be a fool to be tricked by a plant.]
- Is deacair iad a fheiceáil mar go ropann isteach ‘s amach ón dorchadas. Bí ar d’aireachas dá súile lonracha. [They can be hard to spot as they flitter in and out of the darkness. Watch for their glowing eyes.]
- Nuair a thugann siad fogha fút, ná tagadh anbhá ort. Seas an fód, agus aisionsaigh agus iad ag teannadh leat. [When they lunge at you, don’t panic. Stand your ground, and strike back as they come close.]
- Is cosúil go bhfuil a bhfuinneamh gan teorainn! An itheann siad riamh? An stadann siad ariamh le haghaidh néal codalta nó ceana? [It seems like their energy is limitless! Do they ever stop to sleep, or eat, or love?]
- Go dtreoraí d’iarrachtaí chun áite fiúntaí thú. [May your efforts lead you somewhere worthy.]