"The prizes are presented today."
Translation:Bronntar na duaiseanna inniu.
That means "The prizes are being presented today". However the Duolingo's sentence shouldn't really have 'inniu' as the tense they are using is the present habitual.
It seems to me that the autonomous form is used here to write a sentence using the passive voice, in which case inniu would be perfectly acceptable. Is there an alternative verb form in Irish which could be unambiguously used for a sentence in the passive voice?
The autonomous form isn't really a passive voice, but rather active by an unnamed agent. Similar to the English generic "they" as in "They work hard around here".
In addition to this, the present tense in Irish is actually a present habitual, so this sentence translates as:
"They" always present the prizes today.
or in Hiberno-English:
"They" do present the prizes today.
Basically the fixed moment 'today' sounds odd with the habitual aspect of the verb form.
So is there no passive voice in Irish? If there isn’t, what would be the preferred way of translating an English sentence in the passive voice into Irish? If the autonomous form is preferred for an Irish translation of an English passive voice sentence, then do you believe that no Irish sentence should be translated into English in the passive voice, even with “hints” like inniu?
EDIT: If this page is accurate, then the preferred form for the passive voice is bí + verbal adjective, e.g. Tá na duaiseanna bronnta inniu., but the autonomous form “allows a translation in the passive sense”, even though its preferred meaning is active impersonal. Given the presence of inniu in the original sentence, only a translation into the passive voice would make sense. It might suggest that the author of this sentence (and its intended translation) has English as a first language.
That page also states that (except for bí) the present tense form is used both for habitual and non-habitual (i.e. perfective) aspects, with the intended aspect dependent upon context.
Well this is a complicated issue. Firstly one must remember that the same English sentence structure can mean different things: For example "The bread is baked". Here one could mean:
(a) Someone, unmentioned, bakes the bread. (b) The bread is in the state of being baked, i.e. the bread is now completely baked.
(a) would be translated as: Bácáltar an t-arán.
(b) would be translated as: Tá an t-arán bácáilte.
Now, one can add an agent to the second sentence, via the preposition 'ag', let's say: Tá an t-arán bácáilte agam = I have cooked the bread.
This would be a passive sentence, but it always carries a perfect* aspect (i.e. It becomes "I have cooked" rather than "I cook")
One can also construct a continuous passive with the verbal noun:
Tá an t-arán á bhácáil = The bread is being baked
Tá an t-arán á bhácáil agam = The bread is being baked by me.
Also with regard to the present tense verb form, they can only contextually mean the habitual or non-habitual present with verbs of sense (seeing, hearing, e.t.c.) for all other verbs it only means the habitual.
*or more accurately a resultative aspect, as Irish does not have a true perfect aspect.
Maybe a good example would be:
The tables are cleaned every Saturday at six o'clock.
This would be translated in Irish with the autonomous, even though it is passive in English:
Glantar na boird gach Satharn ar a sé a chlog.
Just to be clear "Tá an t-arán bacáilte agam" is in the present perfect in Irish.
It is not that nualeargais.ie is wrong, it is just that colloquial in this case means the Gaeltacht dialects, i.e. the speech of native speakers.
"In written language" refers not to the language as written by native speakers, but to the official standard as used by non-native speakers. Searching a corpus of fourty novels by native speakers from Munster (totaling over 4,000 pages of text) I can only find one instance of a verbs present tense form being used non-habitually by a writer known for his archaic prose (the novel is Niamh from 1907). Even Amhlaoibh Ua Súileabháin does not use it in this way (well-educated writer from 1800s). This is a archaism in Standard Irish and even then I have not seen it from native speakers when using standard Irish, only non-natives, in what I suspect is a calque from English.
AnLonDubhBeag, your post above (“Well this is a complicated issue. …”) doesn’t offer me a “Reply” choice — I suppose that the forum software is preventing that to avoid the margins becoming too narrow, so I’m replying here instead.
I don’t know about IE English, but US English wouldn’t use your meaning (a) for “The bread is baked.” — it would only be used passively here, i.e. only your meaning (b); your meaning (a) would be expressed here as “Someone is baking bread.”, in the active voice. The influence of Irish could well have introduced meaning (a) to “The bread is baked.” there. I’d translate Tá an t-arán bácáilte agam. as “The bread is baked by me.” to preserve the passive voice, since “I have baked the bread.” is active present perfect.
The nualeargais.ie page stated that the habitual-only meaning of the present tense for non-sensing verbs was colloquial; is that wrong?
Returning to the original topic, I can only conclude that Bronntar na duaiseanna inniu. was not intended to have a habitual aspect.
Thanks for clarifying the use of “colloquial” and “the written language”, and for pointing out the perfect aspect — I should have written “The bread has been baked by me.” as a better translation of Tá an t-arán bácáilte agam. to preserve the passive.
For the translation of “The tables are cleaned every Saturday at six o’clock.” to Glantar na boird gach Satharn ar a sé a chlog., the “every Saturday at six o’clock” certainly provides a hint that the translation should have a habitual aspect. Similarly, the “today” in the sentence “The prizes are presented today.” provides a hint that the translation should not have a habitual aspect. Since (at the point in the lessons where this question was asked) 1. verbal adjectives, needed for the best translation of the passive voice, haven’t been introduced, but the autonomous form of the verb has; and 2. the autonomous form can be used as a translation of the English passive, even if it’s not the most accurate way to do so — is your point that an English non-habitual passive should not have been offered yet as a sentence to translate into Irish? Or that a sentence such as “One presents prizes every day.” should have been offered instead, to allow a straightforward translation into the autonomous form?
Yes, they would both be my point. That a non-habitual passive should not have been introduced yet and a habitual passive offered instead.
I should say that simply Present tense passive rarely occurs in Irish. Native speaker usually use the verbal noun to form a present tense continuous passive, that is typically the closest one gets to the English present passive.