1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. "An bhean liath."

"An bhean liath."

Translation:The gray woman.

August 27, 2014



'Liath' doesn't just mean 'gray', it can also can also refer to light/pale blue too.


Kinda makes me think of how a lot of grey pet coat colors are often referred to as "blue." I have a grey cat that is typically called a "Russian blue," and I've heard of several dog breeds that have "blue" (grey) coat/fur colors.


So basically the pale woman?


'Ashen' might be a better translation.


Oh yes Ashen, as in Ash Gray. I get it. :)


that explains all the color people gray would mean pale while blue being sad and pink probaly means embaressed or blushing


Are descriptions like this common in Irish? So far I've seen "red woman", "green boy" and "gray woman"; does the color indicate the color of what the person is wearing, or their hair color, or skin color?


It usually refers to hair colour. "Fear dubh" would mean "a black-haired man". Weirdly, when you're referring to skin colour, "gorm" (literally "blue") is used for "black".


Not so weird: 'gorm' carries the meaning of 'darkness' too, so 'daoine gorma' can reasonably be interpreted as meaning 'dark people'. It's just that the overriding meaning is blue to slightly greenish blue.


It used to refer to the Aran Islanders, as well, not just black people.


Are they called the Bread Islands in Irish?


Totally different words. Bread is 'arán', the Aran Islands are 'Oileáin Árainn'. They don't even sound alike.


Ah, don't worry, it's not a big deal. Everyone's here to learn and teach.


Unless I'm mistaken, doesn't bread require a fada, thus "arán"? This carries a different semantic meaning than without the á accent. There are numerous other example words where an accent completely changes the meaning.


Actually, fear dubh could also refer to the devil. Generally that's with the article, though. An fear dubh is "the devil"


Any speculations on why many European cultures associate red with Satan, yet that instead of red Irish opts for black??


What makes you think that "many European cultures associate red with Satan"? It would hardly be the color associated with Cardinals if that was the case.


I was thinking a lot of French, Italian, and German paintings and poetry used red in their visuals, as well as described "fiery" for coloration. Perhaps my understanding/recollection is off.


So am I correct then that this sentence implies a (somewhat) elderly woman?


"The Gray Lady" is a nickname given to the New York Times. That was the first thing that came into my mind when I encountered this sentence, though it's probably not what the contributors had in mind when they added it to the Irish course.


It would seem not -- typing in "the grey lady" does not get you the point. I tried it.


I did not know that. Thanks!


Would we use "An Fear Glas" to refer to the Green Man of Pagan lore?


Definition 2 in the NEID entry for “green man” suggests that it would be possible.


Bhí Humptí Dumptí ina shuí ar an bhfalla. Tháinig an ghaoth, is leag ar an talamh. Pléascadh a phlaosc, is briseadh a chraoi; cé go raibh sé bán, anois tá sé buí.

Tháinig amach an tseanbhean liath, agus d'fhéach sí ar Humptí Dumptí ina luí. "Anois," ar sí, "níl cumacht ag an rí, na ag an arm is fearr atá faoi - Humptí Dumptí a chur ina shuí ar an bhfalla arís".

mournful music plays



Is lady not acceptable here??


Remember, all ladies are women, but not all women are ladies!


I was just overcome with the urge to answer The Grey Lady, the ghost from harry Potter. :P




I wouldn't be surprised if this is how it's translated in an Irish copy of HP. total Potter nerd here too


I was thinking of her too. :D


Me too «wincing». I forgot we was in Irish fer a wee minute & thought it was lower London...magic London...lol


Why isn't "liath" lenited, if it's an adjective following a feminine noun?


The letters l, n and r are not lenited.

Tips & Notes for the Lenition skill.


Is there any connection between "liath" here being "grey" and of "liathróid" being "ball"??

This was the best etymological "lead" I could find on FNG/NEID - http://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/r%C3%B3id


One possible connection is indirectly given in the eDIL entry for líathróit.


Is this a reference to "the lady in grey" from spy vs spy?


Can this be "lady" instead of woman?


In English, "lady" has two different meanings. It is the female equivalent of "lord", and it is also used as a polite version of "women".

Irish uses bantiarna for the female equivalent of "lord"/tiarna. There is no "polite version" of bhean, so when you need to translate a phrase like "lady of the house" or "tea lady" into Irish, you use bean, but you generally don't translate bean as "lady", unless it a specifically idiomatic phrase in English like "leading lady" - príomhaisteoir mná


What is the difference between a lady and a woman?


That's really a question for English, not for Irish.

English uses the word "Lady" and the word "lady" for two different classes of people, and not all women are ladies. Irish uses different words to resolve these same nuances - "Lady", the female equivalent of "Lord", is bantiarna. in Irish. bean is "woman", the female equivalent of "man". That subset of women who are referred to as "lady" in English are referred to as bean uasal in Irish.


I put 'The grey lady' and it refuses to accept....


Is there anything in all the other comments that made you think that it would or should be?


the grey lady from castleknock collage there is a ruined castle beside the collage. sometimes the owner of the collage gets calls at night saying the alarm has gone off but no one is there. its the grey lady she was forced to marry a man but she hated him so . he locked her in t his castle and she got so miserable that she got a brooch pin, stabbed her neck and died. it is said she haunts the castle today. wonder if this is a reference

Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.