1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. "Níl iontu ach béir."

"Níl iontu ach béir."

Translation:They are only bears.

September 3, 2014

32 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jillianimal

Famous last words...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ecreature

Came to see this, was not disappointed


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cait48

I think I've actually said that sentence, or something similar. (The bears in our woods are actually pretty timid, while the cougars . . . )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MhaireMt

What is so 'only' about a bear??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roentgen

They could be like Pooh Bear: only bears of very little brain. Oh bother.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scilling

I think that the “only” notes that they’re not e.g. a mixed pride/streak/sloth of lions, tigers, and bears, but rather that they’re exclusively bears.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cait48

i interpreted it to mean that they are merely bears, not something worse.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/H66p6e

Maybe they have no brothers and sisters.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/songoftheskies

Would a more literal translation be "They are not but bears"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scilling

A literal translation would be “Aren’t in-them but bears”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StanStanDaMan

How about they are merely bears?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scilling

That would be a possible translation of its meaning, but it wouldn’t be a literal translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StanStanDaMan

I can see that the usual translation "only" would work for Irish and UK English speakers, but I'm starting to suspect that there is more divergent evolution between US and UK/Irish English than is usually discussed.

Realizing also that my own language is divergent from American standard I would say "Merely" is a better fit for me, but I memorized the usual translation.

I think that rote memorization is actually one of the strengths of this course. If you think about it, babies learn their native language by brute force memorization.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/walgen

could be wrong, but i think the point was that either merely or only would both be translating for general sense, not literal.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/I2cGAc67

I translated the sentence as "they are not but bears" and was marked wrong, which is wrong, and reported it. "They are not but bears" or "they are nought but bears" are correct translations. Though I am fond of scilling's literal translation. "Is nought in them but bears!" 100% ursine essence : )


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SatharnPHL

In the last 10 years, how often have you used the construction "they are not but ..." and how often have you used "they are only ..." in real life?

The purpose of an exercise like this isn't just to teach you how to read an Irish phrase, in which case a crude "literal" translation will do, but to teach you how to translate your daily idiomatic English into Irish, in which case that crude literal translation is less than useless, because it doesn't help when you want to translate "they are only ..." into Irish.

There are instances when a "literal" translation is appropriate, and there are times when a "literal" translation will impede your learning progress. This exercise is one of the latter.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roentgen

In some English dialects they say "is/are nought but" and in others "not but".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SatharnPHL

I'm willing to bet £/€/$ 10 that not only is that not true of I2cGAc67's dialect, but that I2cGAc67 has never even been in the same room as someone who would habitually say "not but" instead of "only".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Czesiunia

And these bears need a duck...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArgusC

If they are "only bears," then the speaker must be "just a snack."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cquark

Now, if they were panthers, we'd need to run.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David870992

Could this sentence also be "Níl ach béir iontu"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeffFoster14

I took it to mean that they are ordinary bears, not Beornings.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rpling731

How would "they are THE only bears" be translated?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SatharnPHL

That is slightly complicated. The Irish for "He is the only bear (in the zoo)" is Is é an t-aon béar (sa zú) - or more literally, "that is the one bear in the zoo".

You can't use an t-aon with the plural béir, so you say níl aon bhéar eile sa zú - "there isn't any other bear in the zoo". You can add ach iad/"but them" for emphasis.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/foolimeoir

Cén fáth nach bhfuil "there are only bears in them" ceart?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roentgen

I think because while that may be literally what it says that is not what it means.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kevmur

Thank goodness for that! I thought they were squirrels!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hec10tor

is maith lei Pol an beir.

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