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  5. "'S e ur beatha, Ùna agus Ann…

"'S e ur beatha, Ùna agus Anna."

Translation:You are welcome, Una and Anna.

May 9, 2020



What is the literal meaning of this phrase?


This is a tough one. Basically just Welcome, Una and Anna, since ’s e do bheatha/’s e ur beatha is just a strange idiomatic way of saying welcome that doesn’t make too much sense literally today.

It could be understood as it/he is your life (and probably such interpretation, as ‘He – God or Jesus or other divine being – is your life’, made it keep that form), but originally it probably evolved from something entirely different (especially since it seems to had been used before christianity in Ireland and Scotland, and it doesn’t make much sense as a greeting anyway). Its origin might be Old Irish rot·bia de bethu meaning may (a lot) of life be to you (may you have long life – a long one implied).

But sound changes in the phrase changed it considerably already in the Old Irish period, and the grammar changed in parallel which made it even harder to uncover the original meaning. But the phrase remained in use even though it cannot be understood as original may you have life any more.

See this discussion and the article Jesus is life? on the Akerbeltz wiki, which nicely summarizes it:

So paraphrasing the idiom, it's really just a very Gaelic way of saying live long and prosper.


Very interesting reply - many thanks, Silmeth.


Why is there a ' before the S. And what does 'S translate too?


As for the translation – look at the other comment in this thread: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/38507932?comment_id=38513323 (spoiler alert – it’s a pretty obscure old phrase that does not translate literally today very well).

But nevertheless the ’s is (or at least looks and sounds like, so is interpreted and written as such) a form of the copula verb is which means… ‘is’ (as in eg. ’s esan am fear ‘he is the man’, ’s ann air a bhòrd a th’ an cat ‘it is on the table that the cat is’, or in a high-brow archaic style is rìgh e ‘he is a king’).

From modern language perspective the phrase looks like it means your life is him/it (that…) which would be an incomplete sentence (which often in an attempt to make sense out of it was interpreted as your life is Him or He is your life as a reference to Christian god – but that’s not what the phrase was initially and not really what it conveys today either).


You realize you just set up a recursion with no exit condition, yes?


You mean with my link? Then no – it’s to the same thread, but different comment id, it should bring you to my comment above (which does not link to this one, hence no recursion).

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