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  5. "Ithim roimh an bportán."

"Ithim roimh an bportán."

Translation:I eat before the crab.

September 16, 2014



This is a ridiculous sentence.


This site wouldn't be nearly so fun without the ridiculous sentences. My favorite was the one that sounded like a serial killer was making a to-do list that ended "In December, he dies."


My favorite is still "the crab has juice"


who remembers " the deer speaks Gaelic"?


Yeah laughed out loud on a crouded bus


The Dutch one has "ik ben appels" - 'I am apples'


Some of the japanese phrases are seriously nuts. Definitely helps you remember what youre learning


It's totally useful for learning the grammar, for learning how these sentences work. Duolingo doesn't teach you useful sentences that you can memmorize for when you travel around Ireland, it's not a travel guide book!


Well, let's put it this way - after a sentence like that I'm never going to forget the structure! Maybe that is why they chose such a bizarre image?


Unusual sentences can help in establishing intellectual property rights in some jurisdictions.


I make a habit of eating my breakfast before feeding my pet crab. (hereforth: the crab). I eat before the crab.


This is how I read it. We eat before the dogs too.


Ridiculous sentences is how we learn a language. :)


Could this be "I ate the crab before", as in I ate the crab earlier?


No; ithim is not a past tense form, and roimh is a preposition. To use “before” as an adverb, another wording (e.g. Ith mé an pórtan riamh for “I ate the crab before”) would have been used.


I quite agree. I much prefer translating dry statistics and instruction manuals. Iesu grist.


So does "roimh" mean "before" time-wise? i.e. does this sentence mean I'm eating first and the crab eats second? Or does it mean that I'm eating in front of the crab? Can it mean both?


There is at least one sentence (the children eat chocolate before dinner) where it is definitely time-wise and the other occurrences sound more place-wise. So I was guessing it can mean both.
But since I wanted to know and not only guess I looked it up. http://breis.focloir.ie/en/fgb/roimh
The answer is: Yes, definitely both!


many thanks for that link. a wonderful help.


Yes, roimh means before in time. In front of would be quite different. It would be " os comhar" sorry can't do the accents on the O's


Can't remember the last time I was invited to a crustacean's party. It is more likely that 'Ithim an bportán', sorry crabs everywhere. : )


Would it be "Ithim an portán" in that case? (without the eclipsis, because "an" on its own doesn't cause eclipsis)


I see a lot of upvotes, but no reply. I believe the answer is "yes"


I'm in favor of ridiculous sentences. It keeps me from just guessing based on the nouns.


I feel like a nice overview would have been helpful; I went into this with no idea what an eclipsis is


There is one on the web version. Lessons and everything. Mobile is just a quiz to keep you working.


I still can't find the lessons, but here's a lingot :3


(I know it has been 2 years since your post, but, for the benefit of others just now reading it,) in the desktop version, when you click on the lesson, a window pops up that lets you select (click) 'START' to start the lesson, but instead, you can click the 'key in the circle' above 'START' to test out of the lesson, or, click the 'light bulb in the circle' in the upper right of the pop up window to navigate to the 'Tips and notes' section.


https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ga/Eclipsis is for the Eclipsis lesson...I don't see one for this lesson though. If you bring it up, it's just on the webpage-but not on the mobile. I hope they work on that though-there's so much I missed by not knowing this in the first few lessons.


Can someone clear this up for me? Is roimh before as in i eat before the crab eats (in time) or like while the crab watches (location)? Saw this question posted below but the answer wasnt very clear to me.


It can be either. When it's "Paul drinks wine before the cat," the cat isn't drinking wine, Paul is just in front of the cat.


Is mise an rosualt agus ithim roimh an bpotán _ goo goo goo joob!


How is the consonant to be added to the eclipsed noun.(..bportan ) determined?


Presumably "before" is in the positional sense (as in "in front of the crab") rather than a temporal sense (as in "prior to the crab eating")?


Both "before" and roimh can be used spatially or temporally.

Without any other context, the temporal sense seems more natural to me in this particular case.


How do we know which consonant to add to the noun?

It seems to me the "unvoiced consonants" get their correspondent "voiced" ones:

C (that sounds like K) gets G P gets B T probably gets D And so on...

Is that correct?


i just started learning eclipses/lenition so i hope this is not a silly question but: is there any way to consistently know which letter is used? i've seen an bportán, an gcat, an gcailín, an mbuachaill, an bhuachaill. is there a way to figure it out, or is it just something to memorize? thx


b is eclipsed by m
c is eclipsed by g
d is eclipsed by n
f is eclipsed by bh
g is eclipsed by n
p is eclipsed by b
t is eclipsed by d



Why is the difference between bportán and portán


"portán" is the basic version of the noun. There are certain rules for modifying nouns, one of which being the eclipsis. and another being lenition.

Eclipsis means, that the pronounciation of the original first letter is totally hidden / covered by the other sound (= like an eclipsis of the sun by the moon) , in the case of "p" it is the "b". So when you pronounce "bportán" you should not hear the original "p" or when you pronounce "gcailín" you should not hear the original "c".

Lenition softens the pronounciation, so that "portán" is pronounced like "phhhortán", the "p" still being there, but sort of blown away ;-).

Initially this seemed impossibly hard to myself, but actually, once you go on, you will get the hang of it.

The rules for eclipsis and lenition are explained in the corresponding tips and notes sections:




thank you so much for your explanation. I just had the rules for eclipsis and lenition become clearer by reading it. It's so much easier for me to learn a new (to me) language if I can associate a picture with a word or a rule. I really appreciate your help. :) We've had 3 boy goats born on our farm in the last 3 days. Do you know the Irish word for goat and is it the same word for both sexes?


The description for pronounciation of lenition and eclipsis is a gross simplification, for expert advise please do take a look at the below video:


As for goat vs. billy goat the words would be gabhar vs. pocaide




Why didn't it let me use phortán? Is it because the way she said it?


Why is there a consonant in front of the nouns? What did I miss? Thanks


Certain grammatical situations call for a consonant to be placed in front of a word, and that consonant’s sound replaces the word’s normal initial sound. That situation is referred to as “eclipsis”. If you’re using a browser for Duolingo, check out the Tips and Notes section for the Eclipsis skill.


Ithim portán roimh an bportán


That's a bit mean to the crab


When EVER do you use that sentence in a conversation ???


Duolingo is not a phrasebook!


Fair enough... but as a language teacher I cannot emphasize enough the necessity of the communication factor, much like in the "phrases" part of the lessons.


But certainly there's value to knowing the language inside and out, how it's put together, how all the parts move. Weird sentences like this help me understand the functioning of the language because it forces me to think, not just go on "autopilot."

"I eat before you eat." = OK.

"I eat before the crab." = Forces me to slow down and think.


Note that ithim roimh an bportán does not mean "I eat before the crab (eats)". That's ithim sula n-itheann an portán.

"I eat before you eat" - Ithim sula n-itheann tú.


Edit: OK, this has been clarified. Leaving the original post in square brackets for transparency's sake.

[Wait. How does this square with what you wrote in another discussion?

"Just like "before" in English, roimh can be used for time or position. [. . .] Ólann Pól fíon roimh an gcat can be interpreted as "Paul drinks wine before the cat does", or "Paul drinks wine in front of the cat". " From: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/5550345]


Edit: The confusion has been clarified. Original post left below in square brackets for the sake of transparency.

[That is a very helpful clarification, especially since other comments are suggesting that the ambiguity in the English "before" (is it temporal or physical?) is mirrored in the Irish "roimh." Thank you!]


roimh can be used spatially and temporally - ithim úll roimh an ndinnéar - "I eat an apple before dinner". But you use sula before a verb/action.


Got it: "roimh" is ambiguous, in that it can refer to space or time. "Sula" is not ambiguous, because it must be used with a verb and therefore refers to time. Thanks!


how come there's a "b" before crab? like, how come you couldn't just say "portán"?


Please read the existing comments - this question has already been answered.

After a preposition like roimh (or ag, or ar, or le, etc) and the singular definite article an, a noun is eclipsed.


can roimh mean before as in time as well as position?


I love the whimsy and weirdness that comes from beginner level language lessons


i wonder when i will get a chance to say this in Ireland next time i go there?


We'll assume you have peculiar customs in your country ...Good way to start a conversation assuming the other person doesn't edge gradually towards the door.


There are a lot of very silly responses on this page. The point isn't whether you would actually use this phrase or whether it is intrinsically meaningful. The point is that it lacks context and is therefore poor teaching. I would refer those who enjoy silly combinations of words for their own sake to the works of Spike Milligan or Monty Python. Mangrove-Warbler Ftang!


"The point isn't whether you would actually use this phrase..."

i have used this phrase, not to tell anyone that 'i eat before the crab,' but to learn the Irish language, to learn the Irish syntax that this phrase exemplifies; accordingly, i have used this phrase inasmuch as i have used the structure, the syntax, of this very phrase countless times, in Irish and in English, mutatis mutandis, that is, with a different noun or pronoun for the subject, a different verb, a different noun for the object, and so on. being able to figure out a new phrase based on a similar phrase you already know, having more than one application for the same pattern, is part of the skill, part of the point, part of the practical use of a language.

"... or whether it is intrinsically meaningful."

the sentence is intrinsically meaningful: "ithim roimh an bportán" means "i eat before the crab."

"The point is that it lacks context..."

context would make the phrase extrinsically meaningful as well. sure, context, such as an illustration to accompany the sentence, or a story that includes the sentence, would be fine, too, but there are two problems with establishing such context: 1. providing the illustration or story would entail much more work and preparation for the course developers; 2. some exercise sentences can be interpreted in more than one way, or applied in several contexts; providing a specific context might limit the students' understanding of the many ways in which some words, phrases, and sentences can be applied.

the duolingo format, the template, is what we have. i do not know the technicalities of how such an application is developed, but i am guessing it could be expanded to provide context (such as pictures or stories) for certain sentences, but, it just hasn't been developed that way, in this case. some of the students here provide a context in these discussion forums, often with a response whose humor derives from framing the sentence in another context. personally, i generally find those comments to be both entertaining and instructive, especially when the reaction is in Irish and a moderator or other students respond with corrections to the grammar or variations. but even the English reactions, and even those without humor, expand my understanding of the range of contexts in which the Irish words may apply. the exercise may lack context, perhaps for the very purpose of accommodating various circumstances and interpretations, deliberately to be general rather than specific, but often the students provide specific applications, and i am grateful for both.

"... and is therefore poor teaching."

a lack of context is not necessarily ('therefore') poor teaching. how did you learn math? for instance, multiplication tables? didn't you keep practicing the multiplication tables, reciting them aloud or in your head, until you had the tables memorized? i mean, yeh, there are also 'story problems' that provide a context ('billy gets a quarter for every glass of lemonade he sells; how much money will he earn if he sells 48 glasses?'), and later in life, there are obviously practical applications of math in the real world, but a portion of learning is, indeed, learning without context, studying the basics as such, for example, manipulating numbers regardless of what those numbers might refer to (machine parts, dollars, hours, decibels, or whatever). and it's not just math, it's the same with many subjects. to play chess, you need to know how each piece moves. music is another example. nobody goes to a concert just to hear a musician play scales (and i don't want to hear any of you slagging on Orhan Demir!); nevertheless, practicing scales, without any song or chord progression for context, is one way that musicians build their chops. analogously, no one takes a trip to a gaeltacht in Ireland just to tell someone 'i eat before the crab,' or to observe, 'he runs, she runs, they run;' nevertheless, practicing such phrases helps students learn the language.

"... Monty Python. Mangrove-Warbler Ftang!"

if i could translate my favorite Monty Python sketches and songs, or phrases such as 'mangrove warbler ftang,' into Irish, then i would be proud of such an achievement: i would feel that my Irish is pretty good at that point.

'there is a penguin on the telly' involves a pun: the television screen could be showing a picture of a penguin, or, an actual penguin could be standing atop the television ('i think it's nesting'); to translate that phrase into Irish, i would have to ensure that i maintained the wordplay, both possibilities of the English word 'on,' in the translation. theoretically, another language might not have one way of saying both things, but have one distinct way to express the 'broadcast' meaning and another distinct way to express the 'positional' meaning. to translate, i would have to know; i would have to do the research and find out; and i would learn along the way. such questions come up in these discussions all the time. here, for instance, some students are asking whether 'before' is temporal, spatial, or both. this is how we learn.

'we are the knights who say --' hang on, should i translate that last word as the word 'knee,' actually meaning 'knee?' is that what the knights are really saying? or should i translate that last word as a mere sound? are the knights simply saying 'ni' in the same way that 'the cow says "moo?"' and in the latter case, how would i spell 'ni?' how is it even spelled in English? maybe i'd have to look at a copy of the script, or maybe i could choose a spelling that would allow Irish listeners also to wonder whether the knights are saying a word or a mere noise. the humor itself may seem silly, but translating that humor involves an understanding of the language that, in my case, is usually far too sophisticated for my present familiarity with Irish. i hope my Irish will be that good someday; for now, i will just keep plugging away.

tá m'árthach foluaineach lán deascanna. (i had to take someone else's word for that one.)


Wait... Why is crab spelled like bportán now...


Because of eclipsis (see SatharnPHL's comment a little bit above).


I wrote I eat the crab first, didn't think it could be the real answer

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