"Bíonn sé le do mháthair."

Translation:He does be with your mother.

4 years ago

97 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/flint72
flint72
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Looking forward to the non-Hiberno-English speakers asking what the devil "he does be" is supposed to mean in British- and American-English!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

Well, it does have an equivalent in African American Vernacular English: Habitual "be".

He be workin' = He is always working (Bíonn sé ag obair)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gwyddnoschdy

That depends on whose AAVE - in these parts (Schenectady, NY), "He be workin'" just means he's working in general terms (most likely right now, and he has a regular job). As I understand the Irish now, after several posts, the closest would of the Irish above would be: He's working now and he always works, or generally works.

But explaining Irish in terms of highly dynamic AAVE isn't really going to help many folks, is it?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SiobhanWray

Cad é AAVE?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/freymuth
freymuth
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African-American Vernacular English

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SiobhanWray

Grma!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ShiraWolf2

African American Vernacular English. It's an American dialect. :)

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John787925

My understanding is that "He does be working" just means he has a job; he's not necessarily there right now.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/freymuth
freymuth
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I'm pretty certain that's wrong. 'Does be working' means he is normally working and he is working right now. I'm sure scilling has a source.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

Scilling is wrong on this issue. The Hiberno-English "does be" definitely does not imply that he is working right now, except in the habitual sense that allows you to say "I'm working in the Civil Service", even when you're sitting in a restaurant on a Saturday night, and very clearly not working at that particular moment - "I work in the Civil Service" is a more technically accurate statement, and is the preferred translation of Bím ag obair sa Státseirbhís.

It doesn't entirely preclude the activity actually happening right this minute (you can say bím ag obair sa státseirbhís on a Monday afternoon in your office), but it definitely doesn't imply it.

There are lots of examples of bíonn on focloir.ie that demonstrate this, including lots of examples of bíonn X ag verbal-noun, even though ag verbal-noun is how you would express the progressive form of the verb, in the absence of bíonn.

"he's a snorer" - bíonn sé ag srannadh
"they're good for a laugh" - bíonn an-chraic leo, bíonn an-spraoi leo
"he has a foul mouth" - bíonn drochbhéal air
"she plays around" - bíonn sí ag dul le fir eile, bíonn fir eile aici, bíonn sí i gcúpla nead
"she sucks her thumb" - bíonn sí ag diúl ar a hordóg
"children are spontaneous" - bíonn páistí oscailte
"he collects works of art" - bíonn sé ag bailiú saothair ealaíne

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/freymuth
freymuth
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Argh, I'm going to need to recalibrate my brain. It's too tense.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flint72
flint72
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Oh wow, I never thought of that. That's pretty cool. Perhaps people will understand it better that way. It might be more fimiliar than Hiberno-English.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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I recognized it as habitual, and tried “is being”, but it didn’t sound quite right.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryMcC
MaryMcCPlus
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It sounds a bit West Country to be honest. He be alright he be. ;)

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elinor863720

Thats because west country English is still very Celtic English as the Celtic people were driven there when the Romans invaded ! I grew up in Somerset and realized this when I first staryed learning Irish a few years ago. Elinor

2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LizGartlan
LizGartlan
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Was always told you never say 'does be' or 'do be'

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dilly_dallyer

You don't. Irish people do say it in English because it is a tense in Irish. It's called the habitual tense. It translates as "He can generally be found working - with your mother"

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesForan
JamesForan
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Being Irish this translation made complete sense to me. I live in london and sometimes use this construction without realising. It doesn't take my English friends long to correct me. They do be doing it all the time!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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There's a lovely thing about these Duolingo discussion fora. Those of us who have never been to Ireland get a little exposure to Hiberno-English as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IvanDickso

Lol

9 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anfeardathuil

Tossing my hat into the "We never say anything like this in American English" ring.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidStyIes
DavidStyIesPlus
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Not in British English either.

It's technically an extant construction, but never used, very alien, and really is not a viable translation here ("He does be with your mother")

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John787925

Extant where? I'd never heard of this being a thing before coming to Ireland. If I heard it in England now, I'd probably assume they were from an Irish family...

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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To indicate that something is habitual in standard American English, we do not use the form of the verb with "do" but rather simply the verb. If I habitually sit in a particular chair, "I sit in that chair." We use "do" to indicate emphasis: "I don't think you sit in that chair. I do sit in that chair!"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gp6am
Gp6am
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People around here would say "I usually sit in that chair" or "I am usually with my mother" to point out habitual nature of an act, but Duo doesn't accept that translation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SiobhanWray

de ghnáth = usually

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/freymuth
freymuth
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I would definitely report that. I've used "usually" in at least one of the habitual present sentences, and I'm sure it was accepted; maybe it was bím ag rithe le mo dhartháir?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidStyIes
DavidStyIesPlus
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Exactly the same in British English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John787925

These same constructions are used in Irish English as well, "do be" is just available as another possibility which can add clarity. "I sit in this chair" would be interpreted as habitual, as opposed to "I am sitting..." for the present moment. "I do sit in that chair!" would be interpreted as an emphatic version of the above.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/magickman
magickman
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I can see the English translation of this causing a lot of problems for non hiberno-english speaking learners. I'm not even sure what 'he does be' actually means.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sartma
sartma
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I love Hiberno-English! Please, keep it coming! It's good to learn forms and phrases that one might hear from English speakers in Ireland as well while learning Irish!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/deannawol

I always learned that it was grammatically incorrect to say "does be". It's a colloquial phrase that we have figuratively beaten out of us when we were growing up. There has to be another way to define this.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mathsft

It's a legitimate part of the dialect but good luck telling that to English teachers

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CaspervanZyl
CaspervanZyl
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It is a legitimate part of A dialect, but it's unreasonable to expect speakers of OTHER dialects to translate it as such. When I (and most everyone who speaks English around me) refer to a habitual present action, the simple present is used, with an occasional "usually" thrown in for good measure. Neither is incorrect, nor correct, simply variation. Duolingo should be accepting both. What goes for the goose, goes for the gander.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

I feel languages could be taught so much better by explaining dialects and when to use 'proper' forms Than just calling everything non-standard 'incorrect'

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/freymuth
freymuth
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I am absolutely enthralled by the concept of registers. The fact that I can speak one level of English with my future baby and write a formal, academic paper on a an intellectual topic of my choice on a completely different level in the self-same language is just fascinating.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/donna382364
donna382364
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in grade school we learned to never write in our books. In college, we were told to write in them. We needed to learn respect for books in grade school, but once we had that respect, we were ready for a whole new level of learning. It just depends where we are in our learning process as far as what is "right."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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In grade school, the books belonged to the school, and were returned to the school at the end of the school year, to be used by other pupils in the following year. In college (i.e. tertiary education), we had to buy our own books, so they were ours to do with as we pleased.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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That is generally how it works in the United States as well. I find my students now, though, are reluctant to write in their books, because the books are terribly expensive, and they want the resale value to be high. Unfortunately, I find that they do not take notes as well now and find it more difficult to discuss the text. Of course, that doesn't explain why they don't take notes on print-outs, so I guess maybe I'm just fooling myself.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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Since I’m a US citizen who went to school in the States, that’s the viewpoint that I was expressing. (When I’d attended college, I wrote my notes on index cards kept in my books.)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LouMimzy1
LouMimzy1
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I gave you a Lingot bc if I were your student i'd take notes.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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Well, thanls.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/segviolation
segviolation
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The verbal mood bíonn doesn't exist in standard English, as far as I know only in some non-standard dialects. In standard English this should be translated as "he is normally" or "he is usually" in order to reflect the habitual nature of the Irish form.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Berckoise
Berckoise
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I think the confusion for the non-Irish here is just that this isn't a good sentence to get the meaning across. If it was "he's there every day" or every Monday he's at the cinema or he's always complaining- people would get it right away and not be complaining!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eoin583226

I know the 'do be' construction is not grammatical for most English speakers around the world but.. is it really that hard to deal with in the context of a Duo lesson?

I think literal or closer-to-literal translations are extremely useful even if they sometimes happen to be ungrammatical in the learner's first language.

In learning Korean, I used literal translations all the time and found them invaluable. For example, the standard way to say "I am tall" in Korean would translate as something like "In the case of me, height is big". That's weird in English, but I don't care because I'm not worried about my English.

For what it's worth, I'm Irish and the "do be" construction is not part of my dialect.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nina462140
Nina462140
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Literal, non grammatical translations are fine. But they still need toake some sort of sense. "Do be" is nonsense in American English. It's impossible to determine what it means looking at it. And still confusing even after explained.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eoin583226

I find that surprising. This is the concept to be grasped:

"Do be" constructions indicate the habitual tense.

I don't mean to sound flip but that honestly doesn't seem expecially difficult to me. If you're participating in the discussion you've probably already got it. Or am I crazy? Maybe it seems less confusing to me because I have encountered this usage before.

I take your point that the problem is not that the translation is too literal, but that its closer-to-literal quality is achieved by means of a non-standard and (to some) confusing structure. Maybe a simple "habitually" in parentheses would have been a better way to do it.

Still, the amount of head scratching and indignation this usage generates surprises me.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeeInCalif
LeeInCalif
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I can see why you're scratching your head! For what it's worth, one thing that I think may be going on for those of us who are native American English speakers is that, while the concept of habitual present makes sense to us (at least after seeing it a few times!), we're struggling to come up with an English translation for bíonn that sounds normal and natural to our ears, that accurately conveys what the Irish is saying — and, perhaps most challenging of all — that Duolingo will accept! In any event, for me the discussions of the possible English translations have been very helpful as I try to wrap my head around the shades of meaning of various Irish usages, tenses, moods, etc.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mgroe1
mgroe1
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Could this be a way of saying that they are dating?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/foolimeoir

Well........I had a friend from Donegal, born in the thirties, and he used 'does be' in conversation , together with a few other things like 'she be's crabbid in the mornings' etc etc

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DeanMadden5

I love that everyone is discussing the grammar and no one is asking what the man was doing with your mother!?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/belalablou
belalablou
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Well, that's her own business. ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mardoyle

As a Dubliner, raised by Dubliners, I wouldn't be translating this the way Duolingo does. I'd usually use "usually" .

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LadySanctuary

I'm irish and would definitely use this construction in my speech but not writing and struggled with this answer! Little frustrating

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FearAsAnt-Oilean

I am Irish and in my 40s and I and a lot of people I know use "Does be" almost every day in normal conversation. It seems perfectly natural to me to use this construction

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MustaphaFagg

I must say that I am amused to read statements like: “It's technically an extant construction, but never used, very alien,” “Extant where? I'd never heard of this being a thing before coming to Ireland”. “This is ridiculous. I've never heard this English construction before in my life”. “this sentence just doesn't work in any type of English. It isn't grammatically correct.” “He does be with your mother (sic) is a ridiculous statement in English. This needs to be treated in a clearer way and translated into something people who speak English might actually say”. As a native speaker of Hiberno-English, for whom the habitual present is as normal as breathing, I can't help but take a wicked joy in seeing people get huffy because the English they speak is lacking a tense. It's the huffiness that amuses. (Though it might be the impertinence of “my English is better than your English in spite of the fact that my English is lacking something your English has”). Here's an idea: perhaps any English that is lacking the continuous present should be described as Lesser English. It does seem to have problems expressing a fairly simple idea. One can, albeit clumsily, express the idea in Lesser English: “He is habitually with your mother”. “He might not be with your mother now, but often he is. Maybe more often than not”. “You are likely to find him with your mother, but he isn't always with her. No”. “He might be with your mother. He is quite often. Though maybe not now”. “Sure, I wouldn't put it past him to be with your mother this very minute. But he might not be. He isn't always, but sometimes he is. Quite often, in fact”. Etc. Oh, but my joy is robbed from me by: “Was always told you never say 'does be' or 'do be'”. “I always learned that it was grammatically incorrect to say "does be". It's a colloquial phrase that we have figuratively beaten out of us when we were growing up”. “It's a legitimate part of the dialect but good luck telling that to English teachers”. “I checked with a couple of my native user friends and they cringed”. What a shame, to exchange riches for dross, and “For shame!” the half-educated teachers who should know better, but embrace the Lesser and decry the superior language that should be their heritage. "You have disgraced yourselves again!

On the other hand, the examples given from foclóir.ie are translated there into a simple present: "he is a snorer", "they are good for a laugh", "he has a foul mouth", "she plays around", "she sucks her thumb", "children are spontaneous", "he collects works of art". Lesser English cannot directly express the habitual or usual nature of the actions, it hath not the competence to do it. Hiberno-English can, of course. So should duolingo be accepting “He is with your mother?” Of course not. Lesser English requires something clumsy like “usually” even if that is often not exactly what is meant by “bíonn”. In my opinion duolingo should stoop to accepting “usually”. Or not, and let a discussion ensue that will draw attention to the continual present. Oh, that's what duolingo did!

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulCulloty
PaulCulloty
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It's not something you'd generally say in conversation, but it seems the only way to show how "Bí" (continuous present) differs from "Tá" (this present moment).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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But, of course, this issue comes up when translating from almost any language to any other. One might as well insist that an imperfect past in French be translated into English as "He did be with your mother" or maybe "He was being with your mother." We do not do so, when teaching French, but rather simply teach the student that when translating any English past tense into French, one must consider whether it was an ongoing action or a single, discrete action. Similarly, when teaching English to a French person, I could insist that he translate "I am going" to "je suis allant." It would be dreadful French, but I suppose it would emphasize to the Francophone learner that this was a different form than "I go" or "I do go."

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SeamusOD2
SeamusOD2
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I checked with a couple of my native user friends and they cringed. There is no question that the "does be" usage is correct as a translation but they were really surprised that simply using "usually" in conjunction with the verb was not accepted as a legitimate translation. Both teach Irish to aspiring future Irish speakers. I think a little "water in the wine" approach here is proper, particularly for those whose first language may not be English, even though they are fluent in it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrJackHackett

does thinking of it as "he tends to be" help?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rostellan
Rostellan
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This is a very 'clunky' translation. I know it is sometimes used by a minority of people in rural Ireland, but it is not an English construction that most Irish people use. I think it's a pity that Duolingo doesn't put these phrases in a context - e.g. 'He is with your mother every Wednesday' - that would clarify which tense they want you to use.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LukaOK

PÓL!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/darraghp
darraghp
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And i do be in my ship going to get me that thar bullion with my pirate ship whilst my fish wife do be darning my darn socks in cornwall ooh arr ( at least i ope she be darning socks and not she do be doing my best friend)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mare57553

What kind of English is, he does be with your mother?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

The best kind of English, the kind that you still hear in Ireland on occasion.

In Irish, "bíonn sé le do mháthair" and "tá sé le do mháthair" do not mean the same thing, and so they are translated as "he does be with your mother", and "he is with your mother". The first sentence describes a habitual occurrence - it isn't necessarily happening at this very minute, but it is an ongoing and recurring event that hasn't stopped recurring.

"Tá sé le do mháthair san ollmhargadh" - they're in the supermarket together right now.
"bíonn sé le do mhathair san ollmhargadh" - he either brings her to the supermarket whenever she goes, or he meets her there, and I always see them together whenever I bump into your mother at the supermarket.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ShiraWolf2

Man, I came here for entendres and I found prescriptivism.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Finnvardr

Just throwing my two cents in. As a former truck diver I have travelled all over the United States and parts of Canada. I have heard the "I do be" colloquialism many times in Canada and in the New England area. I.e. "I do be here most times before sun up" or " I do be working most weekends." I've even caught my self using it at times however I think I got it from watching to many pirate movies as a kid.

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Finnvardr

Because "often" is a different word altogether. Bím-I do be- usually... Go miníc - often

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/halcyondais
halcyondais
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This is ridiculous. I've never heard this English construction before in my life. Even purposely trying to remember what it's supposed to be so I don't lose a heart I keep getting it wrong- I keep putting "do" when it's apparently supposed to be "does".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EavanM

I translated "Bíonn sé le do mháthair" as "He is with your mother" and it was marked as correct.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/deserttitan

Do be. Hee hee.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidStyIes
DavidStyIesPlus
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♫ Do do be do be... Strangers in the night.... ♫

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nina462140
Nina462140
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If bíonn is the present habitual of to be, what is ? Because up to now in Duolingo, all the translations of into Englush have essentially always been rendered in the present habitual.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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is “be” without the habitual aspect, e.g. tá ocras orm means that I’m hungry, not that I’m habitually hungry.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gerritboehringer

well

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveGeema

I think a more neutral dialect should be used. The northern dialect pronounces words very differently to most of the other dialects I find. Like 'agam' is 'aagam'. And it only sounds right to say it that way if you're from the north :-P Just a thought!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LouMimzy1
LouMimzy1
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I read it as does be but i was thinking that doesnt make sense.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ceern

Fecks sake. I wrote "He bes with your mother" and got a big red X.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mare57553

I would translate this way, he does , be with your mother

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArgusC
ArgusC
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"He is usually with your mother" seemed like a reasonable translation to me, but Duo says otherwise.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

To me, "he is usually with your mother" means sometimes he is, sometimes he isn't, which isn't what Bíonn sé le do mháthair implies.

Most of the people learning Irish on Duolingo would probably say Táim ag foghlaim na Gaeilge ar líne, but strictly speaking, once you have made a habit of it, Bím ag foghlaim na Gaeilge ar líne is the correct construction.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheCassifier

What the craic (my fave word in Hiberno English) is 'does be'? Is it like 'is, alright'?

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

If the 70 or so previous comments don't give you some concept of what the habitual bíonn means, yet another 2-line answer probably won't add much to your comprehension.

It does not mean 'is, alright'.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John787925

I love how in all the fuss about 'habitual be', everyone's missing the scandalous burn Duo is handing them here.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/erpee2
erpee2
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I do be not understand

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

This is a grammatical construct that essentially doesn't exist in "standard" English. Over the centuries, as Irish people learned to speak English, and found that this useful grammatical construct didn't exist in English, they used "do be" to translate bíonn into English. Many English speakers in Ireland can still understand the grammatical distinction that is being made here, though it is clear that many other English speakers simply can't understand the distinction between and bíonn, or at least they can't unambiguously express it.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SimonDunne2

I find myself putting in these nonsensical statements so I can move onto the next exercise. It goes against my grammatical sensibilities, I do be finding it frustrating.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTWils
JamesTWils
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Definitely do not take up the Swahili.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TreasaWilson

So 2 sentences ago I was expected to translate "I often run with my brother" with the construct 'Bím ag rith', but if I translate this as "He is often with my mother" it's wrong????

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

It's wrong in the other exercise too, as that was a particularly lame attempt to deal with the fact that English just doesn't have a direct equivalent of bíonn.

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KoJaineAhau
KoJaineAhau
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Thanks to everyone in this thread who took the time to explain the difference between Bí and Tá. In early lessons I often wondered how to distinguish between continuous present and at this present moment, now I know. Yay

2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NicLiam
NicLiam
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Does anybody understand why "bím ag rith le mo dheartháir?" is translated at "I often run with my brother", but this cannot be translated as "He is often with your mother"?

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
scilling
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Bím ag rith is present habitual progressive; it means “I often run and am currently running”. (Rithim is the translation of “I (often) run”.) Bíonn sé is present habitual, but not progressive; it means “He often is” rather than “He often is and is currently”.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL

I know that other Irish people have corrected you on this, but you keep repeating this error:

Bím ag rith is present habitual progressive; it means “I often run and am currently running”.

Bím ag rith DOES NOT MEAN "I am currently running", except in the sense that a regular runner can say "I'm currently running 4 times a week", even when they aren't actually running.

In fact Ó Dónaill actually uses the example Bíonn siad ag rith thart cosnochta in the entry for rith, and translates it as "they run about barefoot" - there is no "currently" about it.

Other examples from Ó Dónaill are Bíonn sé ag caint leis féin - "he talks to himself" and Bíonn na páistí ag déanamh garanna beaga dom - "the children do little turns for me". The Hiberno-English "he does be talking to himself" reflects that progressive form, but again, doesn't imply that it is happening at this very minute, only that it is recurring.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/harrycline
harrycline
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So in Ireland the phrase "to be with your mother" has no sexual significance. HUH?

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CareyDavid1

I do be well confused

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/moryssa33
moryssa33
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Are there any Wheel of Time readers here? I have absolutely no problem with the "I do be" construction, because that's the way Illianers talk. LOL! I just picture Bayle Domon saying the line and move on. ;) (And yes, I was very surprised at the lack of wink-wink-nudge-nudge comments among the 111 that are currently here. :) )

1 day ago
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