1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. "Níl an cat daonna."

"Níl an cat daonna."

Translation:The cat is not human.

September 6, 2014



The cat may not, but Snoopy surely is.


But the cat wears a hat.


Bwaha! Howdo you say in Irish 'I snorted coffee out my nose?


"Snorted mé caife amach mo shrón"?


Perhaps Dhíchuir mé caife as mo shrón.


Could daonna be translated as ‘humane’? If so, it would be more obvious through English sentences that it is an adjective, and not a noun.


No, but daonnachtúil could.


OK. Anyway, Wiktionary lists ‘humane’ as possible translation: daonna on Wiktionary

But it also does have daonnachtúil.


Wiktionary is not always error-free. For example, the Wiktionary conjugation table for taistil incorrectly treats it as a syncopated second conjugation verb when it’s actually non-syncopated: e.g. it has taistlíonn sé, sí when it should be taistealaíonn sé, sí.


It doesn’t now, as I changed it according to your comment and Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla by Ó Dónaill. Wiktionary has that strong side, that community can correct it.

Is the conjugation correct now? :)


It looks much better — thank you. The “past participle” row title would be better renamed as “verbal adjective”.

If you’re looking to make another contribution, the Wiktionary conjugation table for the verb lorg has been incorrectly done as a first conjugation verb rather than as a non-syncopated second conjugation verb.


Verbal adjectives (and verbal adverbs) are participles, and past participle is what is used by Ó Dónaill. Although, the Irish grammar database uses verbal adjective term. The former sounds more precise to me, and I believe it is why Irish Wiktionary team settled on it. Anyway, you can suggest the change to them on their discussion or on user Angr’s discussion because he seems to run Irish Wiktionary, and he created the Irish inflection templates.

And for the lorg, I also corrected it. Thanks for pointing this out. :)


Yes, it could be translated as 'humane, kindly.' See the entry for daonna in Ó Dónaill's dictionary.

What it can't be used to mean is 'human' in the sense it's used here - i.e. 'The cat is not [a] human'. Certainly, it can't be used alone as adjective with a verb to describe an unchanging state.

All the dictionary examples in Ó Dónaill show that 'daonna' is used, without a verb, to qualify a noun and indicate that this noun has a human quality (e.g. an cine daonna > a race [that is human], cruth daonna > a form [that is human], neach daonna > a being [that is human]).

The usage of 'daonna' in this sentence - and, indeed, all the others where it appears on Duolingo -, should only be translated as 'humane.' Otherwise, the sentences are incorrect since 'daonna' is not used by itself to mean 'human' in the sense of 'being a human being'.


You're misleading yourself if you think that "The cat is not [a] human" is a reasonable reading of this sentence. "daonna" is unambiguously an adjective - this sentence can never mean "The cat is A human", because that would require a copular construction in Irish, and the noun form of "human" is "duine", not "daonna".

You can't rely on a dictionary to disprove something that it doesn't address. The fact that a particular usage isn't described doesn't mean that that usage is necessarily correct or incorrect, it just means that the dictionary doesn't document it.


You seem to be misreading my point, and my use of square brackets. So I'll clarify things for you.

My point was not that 'daonna' is functioning as a noun here. My point was that, in English, the adjective ('human') and noun ('human') have the same form and can be used in the same way (i.e. 'The cat is not human [ADJ]' = 'The cat is not a human [NOUN]' = 'The cat is not a member of the species homo sapiens').

The Irish adjective 'daonna' is not used that way and so, as noted in my comment, the only acceptable translation of 'Níl an cat daonna' is 'The cat is not humane'.

As for the dictionary, I referred to it because I can't refer anyone to my personal 'feeling', one that comes from years of using Irish, that this sentence is wrong. As the user 'galaxyrocker' mentioned, this sentence sounds weird - at least when translated as 'The cat is not human'. It sounds weird because the usage of 'daonna' is wrong here. It's wrong because it's based on a misunderstanding that owes itself to the fact the dictionary's first definition of 'daonna' is 'human' and an assumption that the Irish adjective 'daonna' is used like the English adjective 'human'.

Like I said, I can't refer anyone to my 'feeling' of this usage being wrong. But I can refer them to the dictionary and, for anyone who still has doubts, I can refer them to 'Corpas na Gaeilge Comhaimseartha' (www.gaois.ie) where I guarantee they'll be hard-pressed to find any examples of 'daonna' being used as it is in this sentence. If you want to try finding an example of this usage though, lean ort.

I hope that clears things up.


I'm going to agree with Pat Hargan. She is definitely not pronouncing the n here. I've listened to it over and over again. She is making a vowel sound of some sort. But as a dyslexic with a very specific disability of being unable to distinguish between vowel sounds--a, e, i, o, u, what't the difference--the /a/, /ə/ thing is absolutely meaningless to me. And to many others all around you. We are legion. And we will survive. And the cat is not human.


Is there any reason why 'the cat is not a person' is incorrect? (I disagree with the sentence in any case, and so do my cats, but that is beside the point.


'daonna' is the adjective 'human', 'duine' is the noun 'person'. DL really does aim for "word-for-word" translations.


Could anybody explain why there is no "a" in front of "human", please? The cat is not a human? Does the word "human" in this sentence mean kind of the class?


The Irish word daonna and the English word "human" can both be either a noun or an adjective. As the Irish sentence that you have been asked to translate does not use the copula, it is using daonna as an adjective, and therefore "human" is an adjective in English, and you do not use an article with an adjective.


Could a cat be humane?


Sure, but the Irish for 'humane' is 'daonnachtúil'.


As she doesn't pronounce the n in the article, i wrote "a cat" i.e. her cat. Any difference of prononciation between the two ?


'The cat is not a person' doesn't get a pass


daonna is an adjective. It doesn't mean "a person".


And besides, "The cat is not a person" would require a copular structure in Irish, which sentence does not have.

Related Discussions

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